This monograph examines the ideological legacy of the the apparently
innocent kinship metaphors of "mother tongue" and "native speaker" by
historicizing their linguistic development. It shows how the early nation
states constructed the ideology of ethnolinguistic nationalism, a composite
of national language, identity, geography, and race. This ideology invented
myths of congenital communities that configured the national language in a
symbiotic matrix between body and physical environment and as the ethnic
and corporeal ownership of national identity and local organic nature.
These ethno-nationalist gestures informed the philology of the early modern
era and generated arboreal and genealogical models of language, culminating
most divisively in the race conscious discourse of the Indo-European
hypothesis of the 19th century. The philosophical theories of organicism
also contributed to these ideologies. The fundamentally nationalist
conflation of race and language was and is the catalyst for subsequent
permutations of ethnolinguistic discrimination, which continue today.
Scholarship should scrutinize the tendency to overextend biological
metaphors in the study of language, as these can encourage, however
surreptitiously, genetic and racial impressions of language.