The Linguodiversity Crisis in the 'Glocal' Age: Factors, Processes, and Policies

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 6:30 PM
Room: Booth 62
Distributed Paper
Albert BASTARDAS-BOADA , University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Throughout human history, language varieties have disappeared in an ongoing process that is likely to have accelerated in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, a period in which major economic, technological, political and demographic changes have had a negative impact at the linguistic level.

Knowing how to take appropriate action to halt current processes of language shift requires developing an accurate understanding of the causes and intergenerational dynamics at work. Sociolinguistic experience in the Catalan-speaking territories, focused on understanding the processes of language shift and the political actions taken to reverse them, can provide us with theoretical models inspired by the perspectives of eco-socio-cognitive complexity, potentially of great use in addressing other similar processes.

From this point of view, a comprehensive grasp of the phenomena of language permanence and abandonment needs to take into account the different levels involved (i.e., cognitive-emotional, interactional, group-specific, demographics, economics, the media and politics) and it must do so simultaneously in an integrated and processual manner. These domains continually interrelate with one another in the sociolinguistic reality, resulting in situations that evolve much as ecosystems or complex adaptive systems do. The need, therefore, is to understand these phenomena in their horizontality and in their multidimensional transversality, like a polyphonic or orchestral score.

As humankind becomes increasingly interdependent and societies face the need for polyglottisation, general principles of linguistic organisation are called for to enable us to reconcile the normal maintenance of the languages of different groups with broader issues of human intercommunication. Toward this aim, the present paper sets out new concepts and principles, such as “linguistic sustainability” and “linguistic subsidiarity”, as a basis for a new organisation of human languages.