Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: Policy
Secondary Theme: Identity and Equity
Linguistic anthropologists and sociocultural linguists have extensively investigated language ideologies—unconscious beliefs and assumptions about language use—that are naturalized over time within a sociolinguistic community (Fairclough, 2001; Silverstein, 1979). Similarly, scholars in applied linguistics and political science have examined language policies and their relationship with nation-building and national identity (Barbour, 2000; Kymlicka and Patten, 2003). However, not much attention has been given to the intersection of language policy, ideology, and identity (Duane, 2015). This panel attempts to bridge the gap between these lines of inquiry by exploring how these phenomena construct and connect with each other.
Language is entwined closely with cultural identity, and many ideologies such as the standard language ideology and the belief in linguistic purity seek to protect the authenticity and solidarity of a sociolinguistic community (Hamers and Blanc, 2000). Language policies can be top-down, from an institution (Barbour, 2000) or bottom-up, at a community level (Hazel, 2015). These policies reify and institutionalize language ideologies, often delimiting and constructing a language community’s difference from or similarity with another community. For example, a prominent language ideology posits that within one nation, there is one corresponding people and one language (Glaser, 2007). If a nation has its own language that is different from another nation’s, this provides evidence for the distinctiveness of the nation’s identity (Barbour, 2000). It is when institutions reinforce such ideologies through policies that inequalities between the linguistic capital of the dominant and non-dominant groups arise (Bourdieu, 1991).
Situated within the context mentioned above, the papers in this panel delve deeper into the intersections of language ideologies, policies, and identity across various cultures to investigate how they construct and influence each other. Torres draws on ethnographic data explaining the effects of dominant ideologies on the linguistic practices of immigrant caregivers and nurses and the policies which constrain them. He problematizes the often-ignored linguistic similarities between simply enunciating from what could be perceived as over-accommodating or "elderspeak." Brotherton investigates the links between the promotion of Scottish autochthonous languages Scots and Gaelic and Scottish nationalism in the wake of the independence referendum and Brexit, finding that discourses around Scotland’s distinct cultural identity are tied to language policies valorizing Scots and Gaelic. Cenon investigates the discourses and ideologies concerning the usage of Singlish, or Singaporean English, and argues that Singaporeans are resisting government efforts to promote Standard English by actively using Singlish. Anand analyzes the linguistic practices and ideologies of South Asian youth in the Bay Area, investigating how speakers combat the internal and external policing of their accents. Guerra argues that failure to enact language policy concerning the Kichwa language in the Andean region of Ecuador contributes to unequal educational practices by evaluating policy documents, language use, and ideologies. At the end of the panel, the discussant Dr. Loring will weave together the principal themes from these papers. Taken together, the studies in this panel explore how language ideologies underlie language policies and often (re)produce cultural and ethnic differences between linguistic communities, both perpetuating and challenging hegemonic power structures.