Language Policy And Planning Language Planning Refers Essay

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Language Policy and Planning

Language planning refers to the efforts that are deliberately undertaken to influence how languages functions, are structured or acquired or the variety of languages in a given country. It is often a government responsibility by non-governmental organizations have also come to be involved in this. Grass-roots organizations and also individuals have been involved in this. The goal of language planning differs depending on the country. However, it generally includes planning, decision making and possible changes which benefit the communications system of the country. Language planning or efforts to improve the communication in a country can also bring about certain social changes such as shift of language, assimilation and therefore provide a motivation which plans the function, structure and acquisition of languages Woolard & Gahng, 1990()

Decision making in language planning

There are four dominant language ideologies which motivate the decisions that are made regarding language planning. The first is the linguistic assimilation. This is a belief that all members of the society, regardless of their native language, need to learn and use the language that is dominant in the society or country in which they live. A good example of this is English-only movement which was in the United States Wyburn & Hayward, 2009()

The second ideology is linguistic pluralism which is the support and recognition of multiple languages within the society. In the U.S., there are many languages which the people use. However, they are not majorly recognized. The fact that many languages coexist does not come from a language ideology that is conscious. However, it comes from the efficiency that is in communicating using a common language Wyburn & Hayward, 2009()

The third ideology is 'vernacularization' which refers to the restoration and development of a language which is indigenous in the country and the language being adopted as the country's official language. A quintessential example is the use of Hebrew in Israel. There is no vernacularized language Wyburn & Hayward, 2009()

The last ideology is internationalization which is the situation whereby a non-indigenous language is adopted as the official language in the country. Such as in countries such as India, South Africa, Philippines, etc. where English has been made to be an official language Wyburn & Hayward, 2009()

The English-only movement

The English-only movement is a political movement which rallied for English to be the only language used in the U.S. For conducting of official government business through the establishment of English as the sole official language in the U.S. English-only movements have been held in the U.S. since the year 1803 when the U.S. acquired Louisiana which was a French-speaking state in what is historically known as the Louisiana Purchase. A few years later, when the Mexican-American War ended, the U.S. also acquired about 75,000 speakers of Spanish as well as other populations which spoke indigenous languages Martin, 1988()

In the year 1847, the law allowed the use of English and French to teach in Louisiana public schools. Two years later in the year 1849, the constitution of California was changed to recognize the rights of the Spanish language. At the end of the American Civil War, the French language rights were done away with and in the year 1868, the Indian Peace Commission made a recommendation for the use of English in schools for the Native Americans. Additionally in the year 1878, the State of California amended its constitution to make English the official language of the state. This was also done in Wisconsin and Illinois in the late 1880s Martin, 1988()

In the year 1896, the government of the Republic of Hawaii made English the primary mode of public schooling in Hawaii. This is similar to what happened in Puerto Rico after the end of the Spanish-American War. During the period of the First World War, there was a campaign against the use of German in the U.S. All German books and literature...
...In the year 1980, voters in Florida led to the approval of an anti-bilingual ordinance. However, this was repealed in 1993. One year later in 1981, English was made to be the official language in Virginia. Two years later in 1983, Senator S.I. Hayakawa and Dr. John Tanton founded a movement known as U.S. English which lobbied for English to be made the official language in order to expand the available opportunities for immigrants to be able to speak and learn English which is the tool needed by immigrants for them to succeed.

In 1986, another movement known as English First was founded by Larry Pratt and an engineer from Texas known as Lou Zaeske founded the American Ethnic Coalition. In 1994, Tanton together with other U.S. English associates came to found ProEnglish which was a movement to specifically defend the English-only law that had been passed in Arizona. ProEnglish asks people to refer to the movement as Official English and not as English-only. This is to mean that other languages are allowed but English is made to be the official language in order to "foster and support the similarities that unite us, rather than institutionalize the differences that divide us."

In May of 2006, the U.S. Senate voted for two distinct changes to the immigration bill. The first change was to recognize English as the "common and unifying language" which led to a contradiction of the instructions that were given to government agencies for them to oblige to non-English publications. One year later, in June of 2007, the U.S. Senate voted for two other amendments to an immigration reform bill. However, none of these two bills ever became laws.

In 2009, voters in the town of Nashville in Tennessee rejected a proposal to make English the official government language with exceptions for issues related to safety and health. Three years later in March of 2012, Rick Santorum who was a Republican presidential candidate caused a stir when he declared publicly that Puerto Rico should make English their official primary language. This made him extremely unpopular in the region. Puerto Rico had managed to resist attempts to make English their primary language between the years 1902-1948.

Definition and implications of a standardized form of a language

A standardized form of language refers to the organization of description in grammars and dictionaries which are encoded in reference works. A standardized language has several characteristics. These include a recognized dictionary and grammar, standard pronunciation, a literary canon, effective public use in court, schools and legislature, a linguistic institution which defines usage norms, popularity and acceptance in the community, constitutional or legal status as the official language and lastly, convenience speaking Woolard & Gahng, 1990()

In the U.S. And in the world over, English does not meet the requirements of a standardized language. This is because it does not have a regulator and there is not standard register. This can be seen in the many dialects of English that exist such as British English, American English, Australian English, etc. Woolard & Gahng, 1990()

Reasons for and challenges of language planning

There are many reasons why language planning is important. First is that Language policy formation helps to remove linguistic and ethnic conflict which exists in the modern world. Language planning also helps to standardize the education system since students are taught using one official or primary language thus reducing any confusion that may arise as a result of being taught many languages Little & McCarty, 2006()

There are also several challenges which are faced in the process of language planning. From the history of the English-only movements, there are several challenges that can be seen…

Sources Used in Documents:


Little, M.E.R., & McCarty, T.L. (2006). Language Planning Challenges and Prospects in Native American Communities and Schools. Tempe, AZ: Language Policy Research Unit.

Martin, J.J. (1988). An American Adventure in Bookburning in the Style of 1918. Colorado Springs: Ralph Myles Publisher.

Woolard, K.A., & Gahng, T.-J. (1990). Changing Language Policies and Attitudes in Autonomous Catalonia. Language in Society, 19(3), 311-330.

Wyburn, J., & Hayward, J. (2009). OR and Language Planning: Modelling the Interaction between Unilingual and Bilingual Populations. The Journal of the Operational Research Society, 60(5), 626-636.

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