LINGUIST List 6.292

Thu 23 Feb 1995

Disc: Language Policy

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  1. , language policy

Message 1: language policy

Date: Wed, 22 Feb 1995 15:46:04 -0400 (EDT)
From: <>
Subject: language policy

Admittedly, I'm coming in on the middle of this discussion, having missed
the earlier messages. However, I was struck by M. Hale's disturbing feelings
about "references to such (non-linguistic) issues as "citizenship" and
"ethnicity"". How can you manage a language planning project without taking
into consideration such non-linguistic factors, in addition to a study of
language attitudes, government policies past and present, language of education
and social mobility, etc. etc.? And something else to think about perhaps...
while the language planner(s) might not favor legal restrictions outright,
the legal promotion of a language or languages, which seems like the opposite
course, could actually lead to unofficial restrictions of the other
 language(s).Someone mentioned the case of Spanish and English in the US. Last
 week I
heard a radio (NPR?) news report that some monolingual English speakers can't
find work in the Miami area because they don't speak Spanish (the report was
in reference to a politician's support of making English the official language
of the US). At a national/federal level, one could argue that Spanish is
a minority language; at a local/city level, one could argue that it is not.
Do we have here a case of the promotion of Spanish leading to unofficial
restrictions on English-speakers, at least at a city level, in terms of
employment opportunities? My point is that the definition of "minority
language" is going to depend on the specific situation. I am currently
involved in a small-scale language planning project (in the capacity of
director) and the toughest decisions I come across have to do with the
"non-linguistic" factors: the people, the emotions, the feelings and the
ideas they have towards the other people who don't speak their language.
Even a small project is extremely complex.

Deborah Du Bartell, Ph.D.
Linguistics Program
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Edinboro, PA 16444 USA
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