Edited by Till Burckhardt, John Coakley and László Marácz
[Language Problems and Language Planning 45:2] 2021
► pp. 187–217
This article argues that the linguistic territoriality principle cannot be considered as a general guideline for the design of language policy but rather as a tool to find the right balance between linguistic freedom and linguistic peace under given circumstances. The article traces the origin and evolution of language policy principles during the drafting process of the new constitutional article in its three official language versions. The Swiss language regime is embedded in an institutional system of executive federalism in which mostly monolingual cantons and municipalities are in charge of implementing nearly all public policy. This significantly reduces the relevance of the inconsistency between a formally personalistic multilingual federal language regime and linguistic territoriality deriving from cantonal language regimes. The point of the new federal regulation is to provide room for manoeuvre for cantonal policymakers to adopt legislation based on linguistic territoriality. The relevant constitutional article recognises that territorial language policies can be implemented to ensure linguistic peace. At the same time, the personality principle may be adopted to protect autochthonous linguistic minorities.