Article published In:Language Problems and Language Planning: Online-First Articles
Elites, centers and “forces collectives”
Language standardization from Meillet to Gramsci – and beyond
The concept of standard language has become highly controversial after the rise of the postmodernist paradigm. This article traces the roots of the concept in the studies of a group of European linguists who inquired into the spread of “common languages” and related it to the processes of modernization and the role of social elites and urban centers during the 1920s. It then reviews the central role it played in the studies on nationalism and nation-building after 1945 and discusses how the focus on structural, macro-historical processes as determinants of the emergence of standard languages came to be abandoned in classical and postmodernist approaches to language standardization. Finally, it suggests that Antonio Gramsci’s insights on the “language question” in Italy should be read on the background of the early research on common languages and suggests that a reconsideration of macro-historical approaches could contribute to the understanding of the spread of Global English.
Keywords: standard language, language standardization, Antoine Meillet, Otto Jespersen, Stein Rokkan, Karl Deutsch, Antonio Gramsci, Global English, history of language planning, postmodernism
- 2. Langues communes and standard languages
- 3.Standard languages and nation-building: Karl W. Deutsch and Stein Rokkan
- 4.Standardization and social planning: Heinz Kloss and Einar Haugen
- 5.Postmodern language planning and the eclipses of the grandes forces collectives
- 6.Gramsci, the “common language” and Global English
Published online: 3 October 2023
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