Can Language Policies Alter Language Dynamics: A Language Competition Model

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal 5A G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Torsten TEMPLIN, Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin, Germany
Bengt-Arne WICKSTROM, Andrássy-Universität Budapest, Hungary
Can language policy alter language dynamics? In this paper, we develop a mathematical model of language competition between a dominant majority language and a minority language. The minority language group is a result of a continuous and ongoing migration process. Migrants enter the society as monolinguals or already as bilinguals, and they form families and generate offspring. Offspring can be raised in either one of the two languages or in both, but they are formally educated primarily in the dominant language. Offspring will produce a next cohort with its own linguistic repertoire. Besides language acquisition at home and formal language education at schools, we also consider adult language learning and the possibility that languages are forgotten if they are not used. Taking these three types of language acquisition as well as the social, cultural and official status of both languages into account, the model describes how the linguistic composition of the population changes over time. The process at the societal level is understood as an aggregated result of individual behavior, while individuals are seen as utility maximizing actors. Individual language decisions are made under certain socio-economic and institutional conditions, which can be addressed and changed by language policies. Hence, we investigate the long-term development of the population’s linguistic composition and the effects of different language policies on this development. It is illustrated how language and status planning can be used to achieve wide spread bilingualism throughout the population to facilitate communication and participation possibilities for a large number of society members, which is seen as a good foundation for cohesion.