Maintaining the status quo
Diglossia and the case of Arabic language policy in Ceuta
Arabic is considered one of the defining cases of diglossia (Ferguson, 1959; Sayahi, 2014). Despite previous scholars’ critiques that the construct of diglossia perpetuates linguistic and societal inequalities, few studies have examined how this seminal construct has been enacted in language policy (Woolard & Schieffelin, 1994; Pennycook, 1994; Harris, 1981). This paper addresses this gap by examining language policy in context through an intertextual analysis of language policy documents including the 1992 European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and several reports on their fulfillment of the charter’s requirements. Using Irvine and Gal’s (2000) framework of three semiotic processes of ideology, the texts demonstrate the use of the notion of diglossia as a tool of iconization, fractal recursivity, and erasure used to naturalize current linguistic inequalities. Consequently, diglossic descriptions are taken up in policy documents in service of a particular language ideology that justifies suppression of minority languages such as is the case of Arabic in Ceuta.
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