Migration in contested linguistic spaces: the challenge for language policies in Switzerland and Wales

Vigers, Dick and Tunger, Verena (2010) Migration in contested linguistic spaces: the challenge for language policies in Switzerland and Wales European Journal of Language Policy, 2, (2), pp. 181-204. (doi:10.3828/ejlp.2010.12).


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This paper explores the role of language as constructed by policies for the acculturation of migrants in the competing discourses of national belonging and multiculturalism as the right to difference. Where national policies have adopted multicultural approaches to foster societal cohesion, immigration represents a potentially valuable addition to diversity. However, language policy directed towards migrant communities appears to undervalue diversity in language competencies. The material is drawn from the highly charged linguistic environments of Wales and the canton of Grisons in Switzerland. In these regions work opportunities, exist for migrants in rural areas where regional language minorities pursue vigorous revitalisation policies. This highlights conflicting discourses between language for integration purposes (official discourse), language learning for identity, and integration in the regional/cantonal discourse (migrant discourses). National policies engineer economic and social integration through dominant language learning. However the promotion of regional minority languages is predicated on reversing the historic devaluing of varieties whose speakers had unequal access to economic and cultural power, by convincing minority speakers of the value of intergenerational transmission and migrants of the social and economic value of acquiring the local language. For foreign migrants the instrumental value in this discourse is greater integration but our research suggests that a) further integration is not a migrant priority and b) migrant assessment of integration is not language-based. Consequently policies fail to achieve their objectives in these regions and migrants reproduce the values of the dominant language community that devalues minority language.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.3828/ejlp.2010.12
ISSNs: 1757-6822 (print)
Keywords: wales, switzerland, integration, migrants, diversity, le ays de galles, la suisse, intégration, diversité
ePrint ID: 185715
Date :
Date Event
10 January 2010Published
Date Deposited: 11 May 2011 13:14
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 02:16
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/185715

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