Language dominance and minorization

Donna Patrick
Table of contents

A subject of increasing importance in sociolinguistic research is language dominance and its relation to minority languages within and across nation-states. Language dominance can be best understood in terms of the notion of ‘linguistic hierarchy’ and of the social, political, and ideological dimensions of attributing power and prestige to particular language varieties and their speakers (Grillo 1989; Gal 1989; Woolard & Schieffelin 1994; Silverstein 1998). Minorization can be understood as a social process occurring within and across nation-states, which constructs minority groups that have less political, economic, and social power than some dominant group. Dominant or minority status is, thus, attributed not on the basis of numbers of speakers, but rather on the basis of the social positioning of particular social groups within a hierarchical social structure.

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