In pursuit of societal harmony: reviewing the experiences and approaches in officially monolingual and officially multilingual countries
Du Plessis, Theodorus
MetadataShow full item record
In pursuit of societal harmony: Reviewing the experiences and approaches in officially monolingual and officially multilingual countries contains a selection of papers on language legislation that were presented at the International Conference on Language Policy in Multicultural and Multilingual Settings, Mandalay, Myanmar, 8-11 February 2016. The editors, both members of the International Academy of Language Law / Académie internationale de droit linguistique, brought together presentations that deal with language legislation and practices in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. The contributions show that the post-communist trend in language policy has been vastly represented by attempts to eliminate the language, and even the cultural legacy, of the formerly hegemonic nation/s in countries emerging after the collapse of the system. In doing so officials in these countries tend to link the harmonisation of a diverse society with the idea of homogenising its population, and prioritising the cultural legacy of the titular nation. In contrast, some post-colonial countries are more tolerant of the language of their colonisers but consequently do not sufficiently promote the institutionalisation of their indigenous languages. Furthermore, the absence of visible efforts to follow any legal pattern in this regard often result in a communication gap between government and the various communities. In pursuit of societal harmony therefore challenges from different perspectives the populist notion of ‘one nation-one language’, revealing the inherent shortcomings of attempting to establish unity through something as abstract as language without constructively addressing the actual, and mostly gross, inequalities and resulting divisions in many societies. The contributions to this Proceedings suggest that by pursuing social harmony through an alleged common language many countries unwittingly emphasise social inequalities and division and even cultivate the basis for resistance. Scholars that work in the field of language legislation and the sociology of language and readers interested in comparative studies will find the collection of papers presented in this Proceedings an interesting read.