LINGUIST List 19.2859

Fri Sep 19 2008

Review: Sociolinguistics: Liddicoat (2008)

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        1.    Haitao Liu, Liddicoat, Anthony J.

Message 1: Liddicoat, Anthony J.
Date: 19-Sep-2008
From: Haitao Liu <>
Subject: Liddicoat, Anthony J.
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Announced at EDITOR: Liddicoat, Anthony J.TITLE: Language Planning and PolicySUBTITLE: Issues in Language Planning and LiteracyPUBLISHER: Multilingual MattersYEAR: 2007

LIU Haitao, Institute of Applied Linguistics, Communication University of China.

SUMMARYLiteracy is a central issue to many language planning works. However, there arefew studies which focus primarily on literacy as a language planning activity.This volume tries to explore some of the complexities and consequences ofliteracy in a range of contexts and from a range of perspectives. It bringstogether a collection of fifteen papers on language planning for literacy inofficial and vernacular languages and deals with the related issues in first andadditional languages in North America, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Pacific. Thefollowing is a summary of these fifteen papers. A similar summary can be foundin the Introduction written by the editor (Anthony Liddicoat) and the abstractsin each paper.

Liddicoat examines two main issues in language planning for literacy: the waysin which literacy has been defined and the relationship between literacy andlanguage selection. This paper argues that contemporary literacy planning has toconsider more than models of delivery and become involved in issues related todefine the nature of literate capability and the selection of languages in whichliterate capabilities will be developed. According to the author, thesequestions are important to the literate futures of people in a globalizing world.

Stevens explores federal policies for early literacy in the United States andpresents questions of how language and literacy are being defined and for whom.Using a Foucaultian analysis, she shows that literacy is an ideologicallymotivated concept and that although one ideology may be embedded in policytexts, the conceptualization may be modified through the discursive practices ofimplementation. The paper concludes that language and literacy policies would dobest to recognize and work within the complex learning setting of schools andclassrooms.

Muthwn gives a critique of the interaction between language planning andliteracy development in Kenya. The paper looks at the impact of the choice ofEnglish as the language of literacy development. However, the choice of languageis not the single cause of Kenya's literacy problems. Other factors, forinstance the working definitions of literacy used in Africa and school languagepractices, also contribute to the literacy problems. The author provides somepractical suggestions to solve these problems. One of them is to redefineliteracy in Kenya because the definition plays an important role in determiningthe most suitable approach.

Cray and Currie examine the concept of literacy in Canada's current immigrantlanguage-training policy. The official policy in Canada is that immigrantsshould be assisted in acquiring one of the two official languages as a part oftheir integration into Canadian society, but that actually in most parts ofCanada, the priority is on English rather than French. The authors found thatthe implementation of this policy fails to fulfill the original promise oflanguage instruction to a level that would allow for successful settlement andintegration.

Chua reviews the ideological roots of literacy in the multilingual context ofSingapore where there is a conflict between the place of English and that of thelocal official languages: Chinese, Tamil and Malay. While Singaporeans have tomaster the English language for political and economic reasons, ideologically,they should remain Asian by rejecting the cultural components of English,replacing them with Asian values. The author argues that this makes Singaporeancitizens as bilingual and bi-literate in English and their mother tongues, butas mono-cultural. The concept of functional literacy is the basis of thisdichotomization and serves as a framework for understanding language policies inSingapore. Currently the cultural component is subordinated to the economic inSingapore's policy practice and the result is a shift from the local languagesto English.

Another investigation about the place of literacy education in a multilingualcontext is the paper written by Kamanathan who presents an analysis of therelationship between English-based and vernacular-based education in India.Drawing on an eight-year ethnographic study of English and vernacular mediumeducation in Gujarat, the author argues a situated approach that beginsaddressing the related inequities around language planning and policy by firstfocusing on what is on the ground. At the core of her argument is a contestationof what constitutes the literate subject and the value system in which literacyis acquired.

Zhou investigates the development of minority language literacy planning in thePeople's Republic of China since 1949 and claims that language planning forliteracy has shifted from a literacy campaign approach to a legislative approachwhich treats compulsory education as the mainstream means for literacydevelopment. Zhou identifies three stances in Chinese language planning:promotion, which involves active support for minority language literacy;permission, which provides a place for such literacies in education; tolerance,which allows, but does not actively support, minority literacies. While thenational laws generally take a permissive stance towards literacy in minoritylanguages, local laws adopt stances ranging from promotion to tolerance. Theauthor argues that the stance that is adopted in legislation depends on twofactors, the political desire and power of the minority and the economic contextin which literacy practices are developed and rationalized.

Kosonen comparatively examines literacy planning for ethnic minorities in threecountries: Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. According to the author, in all threepolities, literacy is understood as a process tied to the standardized officiallanguage and that vernacular language literacy is marginalized, although todifferent degrees in each country. In all three countries, minorities benefitless from the education services currently provided than do the dominantlinguistic groups. Kosonen asserts that the present emphases in languageplanning and literacy development appear to be widening the educational gapbetween the minority and majority populations, creating an internal literacydivide. In spite of the lack of official recognition of minority languages ineducation and literacy development, the vernaculars are used orally in educationin all three polities for pragmatic purposes. The author argues that these localvernacular practices may provide the basis for developing viable biliteracyprograms. In other words, language planning at the grassroots is possible and achange in the conceptualization of literacy at the national level does notnecessarily have to be a ''top-down'' process stipulated by centralized governmentagencies.

Siegal looks at the origins of pidgins and creoles and explores some of thereasons for their lack of use in formal education. According to the author, oneof the key difficulties of these languages is the low prestige. Therefore, indeveloping literacy in these languages, status planning and corpus planning needto be accompanied by prestige planning in order to respond to the existinglinguistic value system. Only four polities have adopted pidgins or creoles aslanguages of education: Seychelles, Haiti, Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, butin each case only as a transitional program towards literacy in anotherlanguage. Siegal argues that, while pidgins and creoles form a range of literateactivities in many societies, literacy in these languages is typically acquiredby transfer from practices learned in the official language, that is, firstlanguage literacy is derived from second language literacy. The practices inthese languages shows that there is a long way to go before these languages arefully recognized as legitimate vehicles for literacy.

Crowley investigates the question of literacy in indigenous languages from anecological perspective. The author argues that literacy in the Pacific does notgive added status to local languages and that it inevitably weakens theselanguages, leading ultimately to the replacement of a huge number of languagesby colonial languages. The core problem for language planning, as Crowley pointsout, rests with the indigenization of literacy, that is to say, literacy must beincorporated into local cultures. While literacy may be introduced into asociety as an exotic practice, it will only seem successful if it becomes alocal practice.

Lindstrom examines the ways in which Papua New Guinea's vernacular literacypolicy is implemented in the Kuot speech community of New Ireland. Kuot is alanguage in a critical situation. Lindstrom shows some of the problems whichemerge for literacy planning in situations of language death whereunderstandings of the nature and purpose of vernacular literacy may not beshared between language planners and communities. While the community expectsthis to work for language survival, the aim of the education policy is theeventual transfer of literacy skills to English. The author describes thetensions between these conflicting goals and the various components that make upthe specific situation of Kuot, including vernacular literacy, orthographicconsiderations arising from the language's precarious situation, and theeventual extension of the internet era to Melanesia. Dunn investigatesvernacular literacy in the Touo language of the Solomon Islands. First languagespeakers of Touo are typically multilingual, and likely to speak othervernaculars. Touo literacy receives no institutional support and vernacularliteracy is largely seen as the domain of other local vernaculars. While Touo isused only for linguistically marginal genres such as listing of personal andtribal names, vernacular literacy is evidently a powerful potential source ofsocial influence. The Touo people are indigenizing literacy, if only to alimited extent, and are integrating literate practice and the ideologies whichsurround it into traditionally valued practices.

Paviour-Smith reports the issues involved in literacy-related corpus planningfor the Aulua language community of Vanuatu. He examines the questions which canarise in developing an orthography in a context with a number of alternativesand argues that community views of appropriate orthographic systems may differsignificantly from those of linguists. In particular, the symbolic associationsthat particular graphemic choices have may strongly influence the nature of theorthography developed. He also explores the process of developing materials fora literacy program and documents the development of written forms of oral texts.

Dekker and Young deal with language planning for literacy for ethno-linguisticminorities in the Philippines, and focus on the planning and implementation ofliteracy programs. They observe that, in the Philippine context, literacy hasbeen recognized as valuable by ethno-linguistic minorities and vernacularliteracy is also included in Philippines' policy, although possibly not inpractice. According to the authors, the minorities face two problems in becomingliterate: their local language is not used as the medium of instruction; thecurriculum is culturally distant from the worldview and experience of thelearners. They argue that local language planning work can play an importantrole in developing education for ethno-linguistic minorities.

Papapavlou and Pavlou examine the potential for Cypriot Greek to ensure a placein education. The key issue is the possibility for bi-dialectal education inCypriot Greek and Modern Standard Greek in the Cypriot context. The authors notethat the place of non-standard varieties in education is argued and that some ofthe questions are linked with the image and value of the non-standard variety inrelation to the standard form of the language. To answer the questions, theyinvestigate primary school-teachers' attitudes to Cypriot Greek as a languagevariety and as a language for use in an educational context. The study showsthat, although a majority of teachers view Cypriot Greek positively, manyteachers maintain a negative image of the variety and reject its use ineducation. As long as a non-standard variety is not widely accepted by teachers,it is unlikely that language planning initiatives with a focus on developingbi-dialectal literacies will succeed.

EVALUATIONLiteracy is usually one of main goals in language planning and language policy.However, it is difficult to find the specific chapter dedicated to literacy inthe works (textbooks or monographs) of language planning and language policy .For example, we can not see the word ''literacy'' even in the most extensiveframework for language planning goals (Kaplan & Baldauf 2003: 202), althoughthere are two subchapters in the Introduction on literacy and languagepolicy/standard languages (Kaplan & Baldauf 2003: 7-9). Two examples of aliteracy campaign can be found in Lo Bianco (2001: 194-198) on Vietnam andCooper on Ethiopia (1989: 21-28). In this way, it is necessary and useful topublish some works on literacy planning in different contexts.

Literacy planning is ignored perhaps because literacy planning is not only aninstance of language-in-education planning, it has also multipleinterrelationships with another three dimensions of language planning: statusplanning, corpus planning, and prestige planning.

This volume presents us a complex view of literacy planning, which is not simplya matter of planning a written form of a language, and is also a highlyideological activity relating to the nature and practice of literacy and thepower relations which exist within societies. The studies in this volume clearlyshow that literacy planning is a language policy and planning activity, and notjust a sub-category of language-in-education planning.

The book is well organized and printed, although several bugs still can befound. For example, Lisa Patel Stevens was given a wrong surname (Stephens) inContents and Introduction written by Liddicoat. In the same Introduction,another author Zhou was also misspelled as Zhao. It is a pity that the volumedoes not include indexes of the names and subject. The chapters are certainlyuseful to read and use in this interesting book.

REFERENCESCooper, Robert L. (1989) _Language Policy and Social Change_. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.

Kaplan, Robert B. and Richard B. Baldauf Jr. (2003) _Language andLanguage-in-Education Planning in the Pacific Basin_. Dordrecht/Boston/London:Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Lo Bianco, Joseph. (2001) Viet Nam: Quoc Ngu, Colonialism and Language Policy.In Nanette Gottlieb and Ping Chen (eds.) _Language Planning and Language Policy:East Asian Perspectives_. Richmond: Curzon Press. pp. 159-206.

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.