Edited by Peter A. Kraus and François Grin
[Studies in World Language Problems 6] 2018
► pp. 145–165
Chapter 7. How to measure linguistic justice?
Theoretical considerations and the South Tyrol case study of the Calvet Language Barometer
When the concept of linguistic justice was proposed by Pool (1991) in order to cope with the asymmetries quite often found in multilingual contexts, it immediately provoked a great deal of debate. To sum up the debate, there is broad agreement on the meaning of linguistic in-justice, but it is still not clear what linguistic justice really is. This doubt is reflected in the mechanics of the proposed methods for the evaluation of multilingual contexts. What are we measuring? In particular, justice for whom, for example, national citizens or migrants? At which level of analysis, that is to say, at local, national, or transnational? The answers to these types of questions will determine our choice of the right – or at least the appropriate – parameters to be taken into account in order to design an index of the proposed measurement method. In other words, measures are far from neutral, in spite of the fact that they are quantitative, especially in the field of analytical sociolinguistics (Iannàccaro & Dell’Aquila, 2011). After almost a decade of refinements, in particular by Van Parijs (2004, 2011, 2012), Grin (2011), and Grin and Gazzola (2007) observed that the intangible value of a language, being one of the main carriers of culture, is quite often left aside in the indexes that propose to measure linguistic justice as a whole. The only variable that seems to be generally accepted as being relevant is territory.
In this chapter, I examine the Calvet Language Barometer (CLB) in its latest version, published on the web in 2012, under the perspective of linguistic justice. I will proceed backwards, as the CLB aims to measure the “linguistic altitude” of languages in isolation – i.e., their position on the scale – while linguistic justice refers to languages in contact and mainly to multilingual contexts. However, the worldwide gravitational model presented in Calvet (2006, 1999), is naturally compatible with the CLB and can be used for this purpose. The case study of South Tyrol will be presented in order to test the CLB in this perspective, showing to what extent the barometer works, where it does not work, and why. In the conclusion, some preliminary ideas about a genuine multilingual measure of linguistic justice will be presented, based upon an operative notion of multilingual equilibrium.