Publication details [#54001]

Silverstein, Michael. 2010. Society, polity, and language community. An enlightenment trinity in anthropological perspective. Journal of Language and Politics 9 (3) : 339–363.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


How do the social institutional agglomerations we call societies interact with levels of political groupness up to and including states and beyond? In the modern First World and more widely, the post-Lockean Enlightenment has brought denotational language itself to the fore as the salient vehicle of mediation — presumed upon by theorists as well as by politicians — by which stable polities have depended upon the existence of social institutions of various sorts. Reciprocally, such mediation has underlain ideological consciousness of what a language community should normatively be like, to wit, a polity-in-potentia able to assert “language rights” in a politics of recognition in a wider social order. This political culture has shaped some of the more salient forces on language communities within the social institutional order of complex, plurilingual speech communities in which people actually live.