Chapter published in:Contested Languages: The hidden multilingualism of Europe
Edited by Marco Tamburelli and Mauro Tosco
[Studies in World Language Problems 8] 2021
► pp. 41–56
A threat to language diversity?
This chapter argues that democracy has both theoretical and practical implications that negatively affect the maintenance of language (and cultural) diversity. Attention is paid to the levelling effects of welfare policies, which tend to depress the speakers’ interest in language preservation and transmission and which typically negatively affect the quality of revitalisation programmes. The presentation discusses the practical and theoretical problems posed by possible ways out such as a voluntary, self-imposed “boundary maintenance” policy (Fishman 1991) and “the creation of linguistic fortresses or ghettoes” (Laponce 1984) in order to protect a minority language. Further, it argues that the democratic state – in itself just the last instalment of the nation-state – may have a special problem with multilingualism, and that language diversity possibly fared better in past forms of government.
Published online: 21 January 2021
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