Paffey, Darren J.
Language, discourse and ideology: the Real Academia Española and the standardisation of Spanish
University of Southampton, Modern Languages, School of Humanities,
This thesis aims to investigate the nature of ideologies of language, and
specifically to understand what kinds of linguistic, social, political and
historical factors impact upon and inform ideologies of standardisation. I
consider the particular case of the Spanish language, and examine how public debates in Spain’s press constitute discursive sites in which the ideologies of language authorities are evidenced. There are few studies which identify and critique the social actors in Spanish standardisation, and this thesis is a contribution to addressing that absence.
By adopting a Critical Discourse Analysis approach , I seek to relate the
microstructures of texts from two of Spain’s best-selling daily newspapers (El País and ABC) to the socio-political macrostructures in which press discourse is produced, and in which hegemonic ideologies underpin debates about Spanish. The press is a crucial vehicle of transmission in which language ideologies are staked out, and the large data corpus allows me to identify recurring aspects of discourse which become ‘naturalised’ and form ‘common sense’ beliefs about Spanish, its role, its authorities, and the practices of those who ‘guard’ the language.
The principal guardian of Spanish, the Real Academia Española (RAE), is the particular focus of this thesis. I interrogate RAE discourse and shed light on this institution’s role in producing and maintaining a ‘standard’ Spanish in the contemporary context. Discourses of language unity and community are central, as are themes which form a vision of Spanish on an international scale. I argue that the RAE’s discourse serves to reinforce its authority and leadership in standardisation. I further argue that this centralisation of linguistic authority is occurring simultaneously with a rescaling and expansion of standardisation practices which go beyond the nation-state paradigm in pursuit of a ‘total Spanish’ guided by ‘panhispanic norms’. The role of other elite institutions in the panhispanic language policy is also legitimised in press discourse, with important social, cultural and commercial implications for not just Spain, but the entire Spanish-speaking world.
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