Advocating for minoritized languages in the global south: challenges and prospects (advocacy)

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Submission Summary

Advocacy for minoritized languages has tended to focus on a critical deconstruction paradigm – critiquing post-colonial language policies for excluding those languages from higher domains in favor of inherited colonial languages, but not offering alternative policies to remedy the situation. In contrast, this talk considers the challenges facing such policies and explores the prospects as well as language policy alternatives for minoritized languages in light of insights from critical theory and language economics.

Submission ID :
AILA3004
Submission Type
Abstract :

Advocacy for minoritized languages in the global south, or the quest for social justice for these languages and their speakers, has tended to focus on what Lin and Martin (2005) call critical deconstruction rather than critical construction paradigm. The former entails critiquing post-colonial language policies for excluding indigenous languages from national institutions while, by default, simultaneously but unwittingly strengthening the stranglehold of the dominance of former colonial languages in those institutions. The latter, critical construction paradigm, calls for an epistemological shift from a critical deconstruction paradigm to a critical construction paradigm that addresses decolonization, globalisation and language-in-education policy and practices. This paper aims to do just that. More specifically, the paper addresses issues in decolonization, globalization, and language-in-education policies from a critical construction perspective. First, it reviews extant literature on language advocacy (Anyon 2005, Davis 2014, De Costa, Park & Wee 2016, Flores & Chaparro 2018, Garcia 2013, Garcia & Kleyn 2016, Harvey 2003, Holborow 2015, Kamwangamalu 2000, Phyak 2019, Tollefson & Tsui 2004) to provide the background against which advocating for minoritized languages in the global south will be addressed. Second, it considers some of the challenges, all of them ideological, facing post-colonial language policies designed to promote use of minorized indigenous languages in national institutions, especially the educational systems. The focus will be on three of the most popular ideologies – the ideology of the nation state, the ideology of socio-economic development, and the ideology of globalization – that policy makers in the global south have used over the years to justify continual use of former colonial languages in education at the expense of minoritized indigenous languages. In the third and last section, the paper explores the prospects for minoritized indigenous languages in light of theoretical developments in critical theory (Bourdieu 1991, Pennycook 2015, Tollefson 2013) and language economics (Grin, Sfreddo, and Vaillancourt 2010, Grin 2019). Drawing on these and related theoretical frameworks, it proposes consumer/receiver- rather than producer-based prestige planning (Haarmann 1990) for minoritized indigenous languages if these languages are to become, like former colonial languages such as English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish, a tool for upward social mobility (Kamwangamalu 2010, 2016). It argues that it is not enough to give official recognition to selected minoritized indigenous languages, hence production-based prestige planning, to bring them, in theory, to equality with former colonial languages. Rather, the policies must aim to change the negative attitudes that the speakers of the target minoritized indigenous languages, hence receiver-based prestige planning, have towards these languages as a viable medium of instruction in the schools. For the attitudes to change, the policies must associate minoritized indigenous languages with economic returns and raise awareness of the value of these languages in the formal labor market.

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