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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: August 2013

11 - Language planning: communication demands, public choice, utility


. . . once His Majesty has subdued people from various nations and languages, and being in need of transmitting the law of the conquerors in this language, I hereby present this Grammar to facilitate its learning . . .

Nebrija (1492)

In order to carry out language planning, one needs a language to plan for.

Peter Mühlhäusler (1994)

The Carolingian scholars did not merely become conscious that Romance and Latin were different . . . they invented the difference.

Roger Wright (1991)

Outline of the chapter

This chapter looks at politically motivated language choices, asking what language policy consists in and how it differs from other sociolinguistic choices. To illustrate the range of political language activities, examples of language policy at different levels of government are presented. A distinction is made between general language policy goals and specific language-planning activities designed to realize these goals within a set time frame; and the elements of a simple model of language planning are introduced. Language-planning activities are commonly divided into two categories, status planning and corpus planning. These notions are discussed on the basis of specific examples, and it is demonstrated how interventions concerning the status of a language interact with procedures designed to change its makeup. Much as careful preparation of corpus and status planning is necessary, the success of measures of both kinds is not decided at the drawing board. To be successful, a language policy has to be acceptable to the people concerned; for languages do not exist in the absence of a community of speakers. The problem of policies relating to languages whose community is dwindling is addressed, followed at the end of the chapter by a reminder of the conceptual and ideological differences between Western researchers and speakers of reticent languages.

Further reading
Ager, Dennis. 2001. Motivation in Language Planning and Language Policy. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Cooper, Robert L. 1989. Language Planning and Social Change. Cambridge University Press.
Coulmas, Florian. 1991. European integration and the idea of a national language. In Coulmas, F. (ed.), A Language Policy for the European Community. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1–43.
Fishman, Joshua A. (ed.) 2001. Can Threatened Languages Be Saved?Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Mühlhäusler, Peter. 1996. Linguistic Ecology: Language Change and Linguistic Imperialism in the Pacific Region. London: Routledge.
Spolsky, Bernard (ed.) 2012a. The Cambridge Handbook of Language Policy. Cambridge University Press.