Representation in the articulation of language policy objectives

Carl, Jenny and Stevenson, Patrick (2008) Representation in the articulation of language policy objectives. In, Sociolinguistics Symposium 17 (SS17), Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 03 - 05 Apr 2008.


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The formulation of language policy in the European context entails not only an abundance of documentation
(position papers, reports, guidelines, strategies, legislative proposals etc) but also the involvement of many individual
political actors operating at different levels within civil society: officials and advisers in the Commission
and other supranational bodies (such as the Council of Europe), government ministers, civil servants, directors of
government-funded agencies (such as the Goethe Institute or the Instituto Cervantes), representatives of minority
groups and so on. While policy documents are scrutinised by political and linguistic analysts in terms of their
content and the discourses in which it is embedded, the articulation of policy objectives by diverse individual actors,
which prefigures and shapes the policies, generally remains unobserved below the level of public statements
by politicians. It may inform the analysis of published policy, but is not typically subjected to analysis itself.
In this paper, we will suggest that an analysis of ways in which language policy objectives are articulated
in discussion is an important but often neglected dimension of the investigation of language policy development.
Drawing on interviews with individuals involved in the formulation of policy in relation to German in
central Europe (in particular in Hungary and the Czech Republic), we will look at how government officials
(both in Germany and Austria and in their neighbouring states), functionaries in government-funded agencies,
representatives of German minority associations, and German language teachers position themselves as both a)
individuals, who have their personal experiences with and opinions on the subject, and as b) representatives of
a wider community with certain vested interests.
Our attention will focus on ways in which our interviewees repeatedly move between expressions of their
personal motivations and the goals of the community they speak for. The question then is how these two dimensions
- the personal/micro and the collective/macro - relate to one another, how they influence each other, and
whether they strengthen or conflict with each other. Using the conceptual framework of positioning theory, we
will try to shed light on the discursive ‘mechanics’ of the interplay between individual and collective positions
adopted by these representative figures.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Related URLs:
Keywords: language policy, europe
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PD Germanic languages
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Humanities > Modern Languages
ePrint ID: 64292
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
April 2008Delivered
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2009
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:49

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