Neutrality in Language Policy

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 09:00-10:30
Location: Hörsaal 5A G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
RC25 Language and Society (host committee)

Language: English

In language planning and policy, representation is a principal consideration, for by granting languages official status or substantial roles in particular domains (e.g., education, media), states and organizations acknowledge the legitimacy of the individuals and groups for whom the languages serve as identity markers.
And as we have seen repeatedly, failure to grant this acknowledgement of legitimacy is quite likely to result in unrest (e.g., lack of Tamil representation in Sri Lanka) or societal tensions. Given the fact that even in the most homogenous of contexts, representation for speakers of all languages is arguably impossible, language managers often embrace the concept of neutrality to rationalize and articulate their chosen policies.
At one end of the language management neutrality continuum is the argument that a language belongs to every segment of the population. At the other end of the continuum is the argument that a language of wider communication is neutral in that it belongs to no single segment of the population. This position, which Singapore and other states have used to justify the designation of English as an official language, often disregards identity categories other than those based on ethnicity, such as “cosmopolitan,” that could lessen the validity of the neutrality argument.
For this session, we seek papers that critically examine homogeneity and diversity (ethnic or otherwise) and the ways in which homogeneity, diversity, and neutrality are presented in the articulation of language management policies by not only agents of states, but also those of non-governmental and supranational organizations.
Session Organizer:
Mark SEILHAMER, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Russian Vs. 'languages of Small-Numbered Peoples': New Developments, Old Approaches?
Evgeny GOLOVKO, European University at St. Petersburg, Russia
Linguistic Policies and Attitudes. the Case of Descendents of Immigrants in Catalonia
Cecilio LAPRESTA-REY, Universidad de Lleida, Spain; Adelina IANOS, University of Lleida, Spain; Cristina PETRENAS, University of Lleida, Spain; Francis OLOUME, University of Lleida, Spain