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The right to cultural identity

Language, Gender and Sexual Identity: Poststructuralist perspectives. Social Lives in Language — Sociolinguistics and multilingual speech communities: Celebrating the work of Gillian Sankoff.

Language Socialization, Participation and Identity: Ethnographic Approaches

Applying Sociolinguistics: Domains and face-to-face interaction. Language in South Africa: The role of language in national transformation, reconstruction and development. Invisible Work: Bilingualism, language choice and childrearing in intermarried families. Gender Across Languages: The linguistic representation of women and men. Volume 3. Volume 2. Volume 1.

Approaching Dialogue: Talk, interaction and contexts in dialogical perspectives. A language may also have official status but only on a regional basis, e. A tolerated language is one that is neither promoted nor proscribed or restricted, e. Finally, a discouraged or proscribed language is one against which there are official sanctions or restrictions, e. Kurdish is today largely proscribed in Turkey. The language cannot be used for writing anything, but since it can be used in speaking and singing!

Planning decisions will obviously play a very large role in determining what happens to any minority language or languages in a country Cobarrubias, , pp. Official neglect may result in letting minority languages die by simply not doing anything to keep them alive. This has been the fate of many Amerindian languages and is likely to be the fate of many more.

One interesting consequence is that, while once there were more speakers of Basque in France than in Spain, now the situation is reversed. Instead of neglect there may be a level of tolerance, so that if a community with a minority language wishes to keep that language alive, it is allowed to do so but at its own expense. In the Council of Europe adopted a Charter on Regional or Minority languages that gave some recognition to such languages but really allowed each country to do as it pleased with them. Major issues with the language in multilingual society There are two issues in language development in multilingual society.

The first has to do with what language rights immigrants to a country should have in an era of widespread immigration motivated by a variety of concerns but within a system of states which often equates statehood or nationhood with language and sometimes with ethnicity. It is not surprising, therefore, that what language rights immigrants should have is a controversial issue almost everywhere.


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One view is that immigrants give up their rights to their languages and their cultures by migrating. The opposite view is that no one should be required to give up a mother tongue by reason of such movement, and that this is particularly regrettable in a world in which population movement is either encouraged, e. Indigenous populations clearly are, but there may be disagreement as to what constitutes an indigenous group, as various people have learned, sometimes fatally, in places like the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Burundi, and Sri Lanka.

Planning must be based on good information, but sometimes the kinds of information that go into planning decisions are not very reliable. Census-takers, for example, may have considerable difficulty in determining just who speaks what languages when and for what purposes. The census of India has always had this problem. The issues are complex, and gatherers of such information may have great difficulty in getting answers even to simple questions. During World War II many people in North America apparently suppressed information concerning either a German ethnicity or any ability to speak German.

By the s and s the ability to speak Spanish was something to be proud of in the United States, just as was the ability to speak French in Canada. Recent Canadian censuses show more and more people claiming bilingual ability in English and French, but little assessment is made of such self-reported claims; it is apparently enough that people should wish to make them! Consequently, we must always exercise caution in interpreting untreated data from censuses. Questions asked at ten-year periods may also produce different answers, partly because there have been objective quantifiable changes but also because less quantifiable and more subjective psychological changes have occurred.

We must remember that we cannot ignore the feelings that people have about who they are, what they speak, and what rights they should have. Such feelings are real. Recent censuses have shown that as many as one in six people in the United States do not have English as their mother tongue, that the majority of these are native-born Americans and that the proportion is growing, particularly in the southwest, i. A recent source Huntington, points out that Hispanics comprised 12 percent of the population in , that their proportion in the total population exceeded that of black Americans in , and that it is estimated that by 25 percent of the total population will be of Hispanic origin p.

In recent years, too, more and more languages from Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East are represented in the population. Not only is a language other than English the mother tongue of a great number of residents of the United States, but many do not speak English at all or speak it with difficulty. There is obviously a vast resource of languages in the United States, but the traditional policy of assimilation is still widely pursued. English is very much the language of the mainstream, and even though languages such as Spanish may be in widespread use in some areas and have certain official approval there, this use is motivated by pragmatic concerns alone.

We can note that only two of the states are officially bilingual: New Mexico, with the other language being Spanish, and Hawaii, with the other language being Hawaiian. It is of interest to note too that in Puerto Ricans restored English as an official language in the Commonwealth after an earlier law made Spanish the sole official language. Fishman has pointed out that Americans regard English as something to be used rather than something that they necessarily must take pride in.

Moreover, this view spreads to other languages too, with one consequence being that, since most Americans are monolingually English, little effort is expended on preserving other languages. Indeed, as Fishman observes p. Bilingual education, therefore, is expediency. It is transitional education designed to ease those who do not speak English into the mainstream of English.

Minority Languages and Group Identity: Cases and Categories | John Edwards

As Fishman says p. The United States actually has no official language but, as Schiffman , p. No statute or constitutional amendment or regulatory law is necessary to maintain this covert policy — its strength lies in the basic assumptions that American society has about language. There has even been a move in Congress in recent years to amend the constitution in order to make English the official language and many individual states have enacted legislation giving English official status within them see Adams and Brink, , Baron, , Crawford, a, b, and Schmid, Those in favor of this move believe that the increasing use of other languages than English in the United States, and in particular the increasing use of Spanish, poses some kind of internal threat.

Rickford has even gone so far as to claim that some of the hostility shown to Ebonics see p. Proponents of English only have pointed to Canada as an example of a country where bilingualism has not worked in their argument for making the United States officially monolingual in English.

In the United States there is a growing awareness that the country is not unilingual and that either an attempt must be made to make it so or there must be some recognition that it is not so see Dicker, Huntington , a prominent American political scientist, says that Americans are currently experiencing a crisis of identity.

According to Huntington, this creed provided Americans with a national identity that began to erode in the s and continues to do so still under an influx of immigrants, a tolerance of multilingualism, the encouragement of bilingualism, the rise of group identities based on race, ethnicity, and gender, the growing commitment of elites to cosmopolitan identities and globalization a commitment not shared by the population at large , and after the late s no perceived external enemy until He says that English-only moves, hostility to group rights and bilingual education, and the growing religiosity of the American population can all be explained as a reaction to this perceived decreased commitment to a national identity.

Huntington ends by suggesting that the new century requires a reaffirmation of the traditional identity but it is clear that this will not be an easy task. The idea of constructing the conclusion in such a way is to keep the research result of this paper in the right sequences and to get the clear understanding from the steps have taken previously.

In quantitative terms, then, monolingualism may be the exception and multilingualism the norm. Monolingualism As a Problem? Mouton de Gruyter, "Current research. Kemp , for example, reports that multilingual learners' learning strategies differ from those of monolingual students learning their first foreign language. John Benjamins, It is clearly understood that mutilingualism, as stated above is the symbolic espression of the unity of the society.

In other words we can say that mutilualingual can be used as a device to tie the unity among the members of the society. As the device, the multilingual can have some treatments and adjustment to bring beneficial effects to all members of the society through the policies taken. Multilungualsism also said as the art of balancing communicative requirements with language resourses.

One of the qualitative terms lies in area of strategies. The Multilungualism is developed determined by some reasons, It is mostly caused by: 1. The establishment of liberal democracies 2. The current increase in the use of English in large parts of the world 3. The political and economic power of the Western 4. The Globalisation and 5. In spite of this extensive network, however, there has been no language political transformation: the language of official business and the linguistic landscape is increasingly English, multilingualism has not yet been meaningfully promoted and the public meaning of the African languages their social, economic, educational and political value is largely unchanged.

Furthermore, the language policies which have been developed are either not implemented including the national, provincial and municipal policies or counter-productively implemented such as the language-in-education policy of In short, the mutilingualism will be developed in one country if the main stream of the politic of the coutry is very liberal and democratic, the stream of languages, sooner or later, will flow to this country bnaturally. This political policy of the country will be the big gate to have a chance to be a multilingual country, while the other reasons above are nature forces, will be happened, unavoidable, they are like a giant hands that graps anything and anywhere.

It is typically conducted by official bodies or their surrogates and aimed at part or all of the population living under its jurisdiction. A feature of the success in these cases is the essential role of power: language planning is successful because the implementing agency e. Several explanations have, of course, been suggested, such as: a the absence of an understanding by decision-makers of the fundamental role of language in all domains of development; b the existence of myths about multilingualism e.

For discussion see Webb, , An explanation which has not yet been effectively investigated but is highly likely to be found applicable is that officials do not possess the capacity to manage language policy implementation effectively. One therefore has to ask to what degree the proposed project will be handled in this manner. For a Bottom Up process, two conditions need to be met: i That the community bodies involved in the project have the necessary legitimacy, trust and support of their communities and have secured the right to speak on their behalf, and ii That the community organisations and their members have the required capacity — the knowledge, understanding and skills, and the necessary social, political and financial authority.

An important strategy in this regard is that all parties involved in the transition engage in communication, thereby establishing the values, beliefs and patterns of behaviour necessary for sustained change. Related to this is the establishment of communication networks, thereby supporting co-operation between interested parties.

In the case of linguistic transformation, an important strategy is that the link between language promotion and achieving personal and community aims and ideals needs to be emphasised, as well as the link between language, economic development and empowerment.

Language, memory, and identity in the Middle East: The case for Lebanon

The first step is that information should be provided on the necessity for change, followed by attempts to obtain the co-operation of all stakeholders, and, finally, developing language promotion programmes. Additionally, furthermore, other agencies were also involved, especially teachers, school principals and community leaders. It is therefore also an organised process.

Benjamin King Smith, Martin Ehala, and Howard Giles

The two approaches need not be separate, independent processes, but could be co- operative, interdependent and mutually complementary: the state creates the language development infra-structure and funding, provides information, consults with communities and attempts to involve them in the process, and community leaders and bodies respond, assume ownership of the process and take responsibility for driving the process.

Auer, P. Language planning from below. In Herbert, Baker, C. Multilingual Baldauf, R. Their views on criteria for 'Swedishness' will be seen as everyday expressions — in a context of secondary school experiences — of what constitutes a national identity cf. Karner, , p. Special attention will be paid to express feelings of commitment to the country where you live and to criteria of ethnic inclusion and exclusion. Choosing to focus on young people creates the opportunity to explore attitudes on national inclusion and exclusion among individuals within the so called critical period Sears, Attitudes of young people on issues of inclusion and exclusion thus provide an indication of future possibilities of upholding inclusive national identities.

An inclusive national identity connects the principle of territory with criteria for citizenship that an individual can choose to attach her to, emphasizing the ability to use the majority language as a key criterion. Such an identity presumably facilitates societal integration of immigrants. The empirical evidence presented shows encouraging results as to the readiness of Swedish youth to adopt inclusive criteria of 'Swedishness', thus aiding those interested in identifying themselves as 'Swedish'.

At the same time the evidence shows some cause for concern regarding the stability of this readiness and to the sense of belonging to Sweden among 'non-Swedish' students. Sweden is generally not regarded as a classic country of immigration compared to, for example, the US, the UK, France, Canada or Australia. The percentage of the population born in a foreign country 12,1 per cent is comparable to those of several traditional countries of immigration, such as the UK 9,1 , France 10,7 , Spain 11,1 , the Netherlands 10,1 and the US 12,9.

Canada 18,9 and Australia 20,3 still have a considerably larger portion of their populations born in foreign countries United Nations In the s Sweden still was ethnically a rather homogenous country. Work force immigration from the s through the s and asylum immigration from the s radically changed this. Work force immigrants came mostly from Finland, Greece and Yugoslavia.


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  6. Former Yugoslavia, Iraq, former Soviet Union and Somalia has been the main emigrant countries for asylum-migrants coming to Sweden. Thus, the Swedish experience offers a case of attitudes towards national identity in a rather recent country of immigration. This experience Sweden shares with several countries in Europe.

    While earlier immigrants arrived to an expanding labour-market those arriving today often face unemployment. Rates of unemployment among immigrants are three to four times the size of unemployment levels for the population as a whole Arbetsmarknadsstyrelsen, Immigrants are also faring worse than Swedes according to several socio-economic indicators. They often live in socially and economically declining areas and are to a higher degree dependent on social benefits Socialstyrelsen, Those born outside Sweden receive disability benefits at considerably higher rates than Swedes Svenska Dagbladet 15 December, Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that immigrants are faring considerably worse than the population at large according to political and democratic indicators.

    Immigrants are showing lower, and declining, turnouts in both the general elections and in the municipal council elections. In the general elections in the total turnout was 82 per cent but only 67 per cent among foreign born. If this pattern remains it will have implications for the democratic state.

    This kind of situation is by no means unique to Sweden. Many European countries face questions of how to make immigrants, often coming from non-democratic countries with strong authoritarian traditions, feel like members and active participants in their countries of immigration. Riots among immigrant youth in France, Denmark and Sweden in recent years can be seen as dramatic expressions of more general and unresolved problems of integration and belonging well-known to both classic and new countries of immigration.

    Integration is still mainly, despite globalisation and europeanisation, an issue for the nation-state. This is so for two reasons. The immigrants obviously have to live somewhere and that 'somewhere' is always situated within a nation-state.


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    4. Secondly, democratic political processes are and will, for the foreseeable future, be organized mainly within the context of the nation-state. In order to function satisfactorily the democratic state needs democratically minded citizens.

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      It needs citizens who are willing to solve problems together, who are able to communicate in order to find solutions acceptable to as many as possible, and who are willing to follow the decisions being made. This, in turn, requires that enough people find it meaningful to identify with a nation-state like this. It also requires that those already identifying with this state are prepared to let those willing to identify, do so.

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      Developments like this present a challenge, perhaps even a threat, to the continued maintenance of the democratic state. Such processes of alienation might be further aggravated if identification with the nation-state is made dependent upon criteria which are very difficult or even impossible for immigrants to meet. An interesting aspect of this is that individual experiences of fairness seem to be of importance in enhancing identification with the democratic state. Before turning to the results of the study we have to consider, first, what makes identification take place and, second, what demands we should make upon a national identity that can be supportive to processes of identification with a democratic state.

      Identity needs objects of identification to come into existence. Objects of identification are used by the individual as symbols in order to understand the complex realities of society. For an identification to be made, 'the symbols have to be appropriate as a mode of behaviour and attitude for a particular and real experience' Bloom, , p. Thus, national identity is, according to Bloom, a condition 'in which a mass of people have made the same identification with national symbols — have internalised the symbols of the nation — so that they may act as one psychological group when there is a threat to, or the possibility of enhancement of, these symbols of national identity' Bloom, , p.

      National identity comes into existence when the nation is considered a relevant object for human experience. Such experiences can be of the most divergent kinds, e. Accordingly, national identities can be very different. An identity taking common destinies, real or imagined, as its point of reference tends to emphasize lineage and ethnicity, while an identity taking common values as its point of reference tends to emphasize the principle of territory.

      The individual simultaneously can have multiple identities, personal and social. The identities can be more or less overlapping, with different emphasis depending upon the situation Deaux, Here we are concerned with one of many possible social identities, national identity. The creation of national identity is a constantly ongoing process. In this process the individual develops a sense of belonging to the nation.

      New generations are socialized into a changing but continuing, and often perceived as invariable, national identity. The possible achievement — or non-achievement — of such an identity among large groups of immigrants might be of crucial importance for the workings — even survival — of the democratic state.

      Different views of what constitutes the national identity can be seen as bargaining offers in a negotiation concerning the substance of such an identity. The views might be constructed out of experiences of, e. Experiences brought from the former can be seen as specific contributions of the bargaining offer of immigrant youth concerning the new national identity. The combined offers will, through continuous processes of negotiation, form views, more or less stable, on 'Swedishness' and possible belongings to this '—ness'. The achievement of a superordinate national identity is, I suggest, facilitated to the extent it is perceived as inclusive.

      National identity is the superordinate identity to focus on if we are interested in processes of identification with the nation-state. Superordinate national identities might also, as we have seen, be of very different kinds. What do we know about relationships between super- and subordinate identities? And what do we know about the effects of inclusion and exclusion related to an superordinate identity? Their claim is based on a review of the psychological literature on self-esteem and group behaviour. A superordinate identity has, at least, two important effects.

      It can minimize 'the differences people see between the ingroup and the outgroup', and it can 'reduce competitiveness between groups by encouraging members to be less concerned about the relative gains of the ingroup versus the outgroup'. Spinner-Halev's and Theiss-Morse's conclusion is that '[p]eople who share a superordinate identity tend to be more concerned with procedural justice than with distributive outcomes. This observation is supported by evidence presented by Citrin, Wong and Duff. Brewer draws our attention to the salience of the symbols of a superordinate category membership.

      If this is at hand positive recategorization of outgroup and ingroup into a common superordinate identity can take place Brewer, , p. Such an identity can, on the other hand, be seen as threats if 'intergroup attitudes and relations have moved into the realm of outgroup hate or overt conflict' Ibid. Brewer's remark indicates that aspects of, e. This, in turn, brings us to the question of what characteristics the superordinate identity should have in order to be attractive.

      The concepts of 'inclusion' and 'exclusion' will be useful in doing this. Inclusion and exclusion have been used to characterise what we know as the two main types of citizenship, a political, inclusive one, historically strongly connected to France, and an ethnocultural, exclusive 'German' type. While these certainly are ideal-types in a Weberian sense and should not be understood as accurate descriptions of actual conditions, they may be used as a point of departure in discussing eligible forms of national identity 2.

      A national identity founded on fairness, e. An inclusive national identity undoubtedly comes closer to these values than do an exclusive. Such an identity, connecting the principle of territory with certain values, provides the individual with the possibility and choice to attach to it according to criteria the individual himself can, at least in principle, control.

      Inclusive criteria can be, e. Corresponding exclusive criteria might be to have been born in the country where you live, to have lived in that country for most of your life and to be a follower of the dominant religious faith. Obviously the first three criteria are possible to reach for almost everyone, although practical obstacles almost impossible to overcome for the individual may of course exist. An illiterate immigrant of 75 years of age certainly will have problems in having a good command of the language of the new country.

      But there is no principled obstacle that excludes him or her from the possibility of mastering the new language. The opposite applies to the three exclusive criteria. All three describe conditions the individual cannot reasonably influence. The born- and lived in-criteria are obviously of this kind. So, if less obvious, is the criterion of religion since faith can be such an important aspect of the individual's identity.