Vol. 39:2 (2015) ► pp.154–170
Loving but not living the vernacular
A glimpse of Mazandarani-Farsi linguistic culture in northern Iran
Traditional top-down conceptions of language policy and planning have been questioned by recent perspectives that advocate more localized accounts of language policy concerns in real-life social contexts. Schiffman’s (1996) conception of linguistic culture is one of these bottom-up approaches, which focuses on covert language policies. This study investigates some aspects of such covert orientations of speakers of the Mazandarani language towards their local vernacular in the bilingual Mazandarani–Farsi context of northern Iran. It specifically attempts to explore the current linguistic culture atmosphere in terms of assumptions, prejudices, attitudes, and stereotypes with regard to Mazandarani. These aspects of public belief are particularly investigated as referring to language use in ‘social situations’, ‘professional contexts’, ‘education’, and ‘media’. A group of 106 participants responded to a questionnaire that was aimed at eliciting their views on these linguistic culture domains as well as their ‘attitude’ towards Mazandarani. The study indicates that although the participants show very positive emotional attitudes towards their local language, their actual linguistic culture appears to be strongly in favor of the official national language, i.e. Farsi. Some concerns are raised as to the implications of such a loving-but-not-living linguistic culture for a more realistic understanding of language policy and planning.