Standardization in highly multilingual contexts: the shifting interpretations, limited reach, and great symbolic power of ethnonationalist visions

Tutkimustuotos: Artikkeli kirjassa/raportissa/konferenssijulkaisussaKirjan luku tai artikkeliTieteellinenvertaisarvioitu


This article discusses standardization in multilingual national contexts where the majority of languages have not been standardized or are not widely used in their standard forms. Globally, these multilingual societies by far outnumber officially monolingual or regulated multilingual nation states. Many of these settings constitute small-scale linguistic ecologies (Lüpke 2016b). Some of these settings, such as the indigenous language ecologies of North America and Australia, have been drastically transformed by European settlement colonies, which resulted in a violent and dramatic reduction of multilingualism, through the eradication of indigenous populations as well as through resettlement and imposition of European models of language and education. As a result, formerly multilingual populations are now mainly associated with one language. Configurations that present small-scale multilingual ecologies until today have not been affected by large numbers of colonists, although all of them have been influenced since the first wave of globalization, connected to European expansion from the 15th century onwards through Iberian seafarers, followed by traders and colonists from most European states. In the wake of this endeavour, Europeans took hold in many coastal areas of Africa and Asia, the Caribbean and the Americas, and set up the transatlantic slave trade prior to colonizing the interior of the continent at the end of the 19th century. African sociolinguists have drawn attention to the inapplicability of the notion of discrete languages and of the standard to African complex multilingual settings, and have asked for the development of new sociolinguistic models better apt at capturing fluid multilingualism (Anderson & Ansah 2015; Barasa 2015; Makoni & Pennycook 2007; Makoni 2013; Mesthrie 2015). An investigation of African interactions with standard language ideologies, to which they have been exposed since European colonization, flanked by an exploration of communicative practices, is a necessary precursor to the development of such models in socio- and applied linguistics. In this article, I focus on selected aspects of several African situations to illustrate highly multilingual national contexts beyond the complete reach of the standard. I investigate what roles standard languages and standardization processes play in them, and what contradictions and points of tensions are created through the co-existence of different language ideologies in postcolonial states, where (post)colonial education systems and official language policies were created around the notion of the standard but in which most of communication continues to defy this view of language. Section 2 traces the history of a number of African standard languages and which visions of language they embody; section 3 illustrates the dialectic between “strategic essentialism” (Spivak 1990) at the symbolic level and oral and written communication as it occurs in reality. Its final section 3.3 presents African alternatives to speaking and writing standard registers in educational settings.
OtsikkoThe Cambridge handbook of standard languages
ToimittajatWendy Ayres-Bennett, John Bellamy
KustantajaCambridge University Press
TilaHyväksytty/In press - elokuuta 2020
OKM-julkaisutyyppiA3 Kirjan tai muun kokoomateoksen osa

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