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Tue Oct 09 2007

Review: Language Planning: Fishman (2006)

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Message 1: Review: Language Planning: Fishman (2006)
Date: 09-Oct-2007
From: Randall Eggert <>
Subject: Review: Language Planning: Fishman (2006)
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Announced at AUTHOR: Joshua A FishmanTITLE: Do Not Leave Your Language AloneSUBTITLE: The Hidden Status Agendas Within Corpus Planning in Language PolicyPUBLISHER: Lawrence Erlbaum AssociatesYEAR: 2006

LIU Haitao, Institute of Apllied Linguistics, Communication Universityof China.

SUMMARYThe title of this book recalls Hall (1950), which had almost the same title, butwithout the words ''do not.'' More interestingly, the title also directly comesinto the core of language planning, which can be defined as a science ofdeliberately changing the status, structure and development of a language,although the definition of language planning has more or less changed since itsbirth in societal development (Liu 2006).

The activities of language planning often are differentiated into two classes:corpus and status planning. Corpus planning is concerned specifically withattempts to modify language itself, and status planning with attempts to modifythe environment in which a language is used. For detailed overviews of languageplanning, see Kaplan & Baldauf (1997).

In practice, it is very difficult to clearly distinguish the two activities(corpus and status planning) in an activity of language planning. In the prefaceof this book, the author expresses two positions: the two types of languageplanning are not as fundamentally separate as previously assumed; corpusplanning per se is also impacted strongly by other factors, such as societalbiases, ideologies and attitudes, which often are the crucial points in statusplanning. In this way, readers can understand the book's subtitle.

Aiming at readers without prior knowledge of the field, this book begins with abeauty contest story in the bible's Book of Esther showing that languageplanning/policy has a longer history than commonly supposed. Chapter one is abrief introduction to language planning with the emphases on corpus planning andits connation to societal components. The author clearly examines when and whylanguage planning comes into a language community's agenda: ''societal changes isprominent, problem-solving is vital, and a premium is paid for communicationease and consensual clarity of meaning''(p.9). It is also noteworthy that modernlanguage (corpus) planning often aims at the written language.

''Corpus Planning and Status Planning: Separates, Opposites, or Siamese Twins?''is the title of Chapter 2. Focusing on the relation between corpus and statusplanning, the author first asks: if they are really separate from each other,''with which one of these two does the total process begin?''(p. 11). Manyexamples tell us, that this is a very difficult question, because many factorsimpact such processes. The book provides a very transparent (or fuzzy) answer''Where it starts, when it starts, and in which way it develops is determined bythe context - political, economic, cultural - in which it develops''(p. 17). Thatis why, in language planning, the sequence of corpus and status planning hasunequalness of intervals and irregularity of sequencing.

''The Directions and Dimensions of Corpus Planning'' is a shorter chapter (only4.5 pages), which treats the problem of how to understand the notion''modernization'' and its relation with corpus planning in an age ofglobalization. The author tells readers ''there is no (and can be no) politicallyinnocent or value-free corpus planning''(p. 21). If this is true, corpusplanning, just like status planning, is also an activity driven by politics,profit and other nonlinguistic factors. In the following chapters, the authorconstructs and presents a framework of corpus planning, which include 4 bipolardimensions: purity and vernacularity, uniqueness and westernization,classicization and panification, Ausbau and Einbau.

Chapter 4 investigates the relation between purity and vernacularity, whichreflect the attitudes of corpus planners to ''foreignisms'' in their own language.If ''[p]urity is not easy to come by, neither in language nor in the rest oflife''(p. 26), why do the language planners still prefer it? Is a pure languagemore powerful than a mixed language? In this chapter, the author gives someinteresting examples. Americans are more tolerant regarding the messiness oftheir language than the French; American English is ''the (international) linguafranca of an informal, egalitarian, frequently irreverent culture that placesmuch higher value on folksiness and trendiness than on formality and purity''(p.34). Perhaps, we have to do much more investigation before saying that aninternational language should be a mixed language, but at least for now we cansay ''vernacularity rules the English waves!''(p. 37).

Compared with purity, as one of two dimensions in Chapter 5, uniqueness opposesall borrowings from other languages. Chapter 4 indicates that purity is adifficult goal in corpus planning. So, uniqueness is a much more extreme anddifficultly attained task for language planners. Linguistically, ''very few ofthe world's 5000+ languages are 'isolates', that is, really unrelated to anyother language or grouping of languages anywhere in the world''(p. 41).Sociologically, it is also difficult to find a language community completelyunlinked with other communities. Contrasted with uniqueness, Westernization ison the other end of this bipolar in corpus planning. Today, Westernization oftenis limited to Anglicization, because ''the importance of English in all sorts ofhigher (post-elementary) education makes it appear to be an 'open sesame' inmany parts of the world''(p. 51). Many practices prove, ''neither choice iswithout some negative consequences, but both are to some extent, also desirableand desired at the same time''(p. 60) In this sense, language planning is acompromised activity (Liu 2006).

Classicization and panification is another bipolar dimension in corpus planningand the theme of the sixth chapter. Classicization relates to corpus planningthat may be desired for the vernacular of an already united and recognizedentity. Panification hopes to reconstruct or reconnect different vernaculars toa hypothetical classical language. Obviously, the latter is more difficult thanthe former. Thus, in practical language planning, panification has very lowsuccess rate. More commonly, we can find the projects of planned (artificial)language based on the panification principle (Blanke 1989).

In chapter 7, the author use two German terms Ausbau and Einbau to explain therelation between two languages in corpus planning. Ausbau is the efforts toovercome and decrease the similarity between the structural, lexical and writingsystems in the related languages. Contrastingly, Einbau aims at fostering andincreasing the similarity. The cases show that Ausbau and Einbau are not simplyopposite. They are often sequentially linked and are seriously influenced bysocial and political factors. Quoting the latest sentence in this chapter,''corpus planning is no different from any other tool that enhances human controlover the environment; every increase in human power requires a correspondingincrease in human responsibility relative to the uses and users of that power.''(p. 102).

How do we construct the interdependence and independence clusters for the fourbipolar dimensions and eight poles in the corpus planning of written languages?This is the task of Chapter 8. The author categorizes ''purity, uniqueness,classicism and Ausbau'' as the independence cluster, because they all try tofoster the ''authentic individuality'' of one's own language. The remaining fourpoles are labeled as the interdependence cluster for underlining the coexistingrelations between the languages.

Viewed from these 8 poles, a natural question is raised: can opposites andincommensurables be combined? Perhaps, there is not a clear answer yet, becausethe author tells us ''all in all, corpus planning reflects all of the foibles ofhuman nature, rather than runs counter to them, and we are a very contradictoryspecies... Could corpus planning really do otherwise and would it be any more(or less) successful if it did? A greater or lesser decisional inconsistency maybe its saving graces, its human grace.''(p. 116-117). In other words, languageplanning is not a simply activity, because ''to plan language is to plansociety.''(Cooper 1989: 182)

Chapter 10 is the concluding summary of this book. Just like the implications inthe subtitle, corpus planning is not easily and clearly distinguished fromstatus planning. ''[C]orpus planning proceeds in accord with the more generalpoliticolinguistic culture of the society that engages in it''(p. 125).

EVALUATIONThe book provides a new look at corpus planning. As one of the most importantfigures in language planning, the author tries to build a broad, integrativeframework of corpus planning in written language and discusses many cases oflanguage planning in detail. His efforts are very useful for understanding theessentials of language planning in general, and political/social factors in theactivities in language planning in particular.

The book is intended as an introductory text for higher undergraduate and lowergraduate level courses in language planning and policy. Formally, it is veryappropriate for such targets with the contents of 126 pages and 11 questions forclass discussion or written assignment. Substantively, it is not only useful forthe aforementioned course of language planning, but also is valuable forresearchers in the field of language planning and language policy, and moregenerally, for all who are interested in human intervention in the languagedevelopmental processes.

It is noteworthy that, although the book is described as a text for corpusplanning alone, if we consider that the author is trying to construct aframework of corpus planning based on nonlinguistic principles, it is also agood reference for the students and researchers of status planning. It seems tome, however, if you are searching for a text for corpus planning from atraditional point of view, there may be better choices.

The book is well organized, but the figures, particularly, the maps accessedfrom Internet, have lower quality.

The author writes in the preface, ''Language planning is ultimately judged not bythe its small coteries of specialized language planners but, most crucially, byits intended consumers''(p. x). This is also true of the book, please judge itfor yourself.

REFERENCESBlanke, Detlev (1989) Planned languages - a survey of some of the main problems.In Schubert, Klaus (ed.), _Interlinguistics. Aspects of the Science of PlannedLanguages_ (Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs 42). Berlin-New York:Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 63-87.

Cooper Robert L. (1989) _Language planning and social change_. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.

Hall, Robert A. (1950) _Leave your language alone!_ Ithaca: Linguistica.

Kaplan, Robert B. & Richard B. Baldauf (1997) _Language planning: from practiceto theory_. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Liu, Haitao (2006) Language planning and language policy: the definition'schange and field's development. In _Theory and practice of language planning_.Beijing: Yuwen Chubanshe. pp. 55-60. In Chinese.

ABOUT THE REVIEWERLIU Haitao is professor of applied and computational linguistics at theCommunication University of China (CUC). His research interests include languageplanning, computational linguistics and syntactic theory.