What Is The Significance Of The Nation In Shaping Language Policy?

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In this essay, I will be discussing the significance of the nation in shaping language policies. I will be arguing the point of view of civic nationalism versus liberal culturalism. I will be defending the viewpoint of liberal culturalism, which defends the obligation of the state to privilege and endorse certain national cultures and languages within its borders. Provided these have been historically associated with a given territory. Although, limiting to only offering the promotion to regional languages can compromise the acquisition of a foreign language of greater use. As opposed, there is the liberal culturalism, which insists that the state doesn´t belong to any nation and, therefore, for the state to favour one or more cultures would mean devaluing the others. This way of thinking is viewed as morally preferable to culturalism. However, this theory only lives as an abstract theory. My view is that a state protecting and supporting all the national cultures and languages equally within its territory is not a feasible option.

In order to understand what these theories defend, we need to comprehend their views on what a nation is. The nation is meant to describe a political identity built around shared citizenship. In this sense, a nation does not need to be unified by a common language or culture. From this definition, we understand the nation as a group of people that merely share the same citizenship. Some civic nationalists claim in the importance of a shared culture on grounds for a unitary model of citizenship where everybody enjoys equal rights. To achieve this, immigrants and other linguistic minorities must assimilate the national language. The majority language, of the country in which they have settled. It is crucial for a state that its citizens share one language. Since it is the base upon which politics are built, which will grant them the opportunity to participate in the economic and political affairs of the nation. This argument supports the imposition of linguistic and cultural requirements upon citizens to promote assimilation through the provision of services and incentives from the government. Sometimes, this imposition is disguised as “ethnocultural-neutrality”. However, the idea of the government being neutral is false, as something like deciding the language of instruction in schools is one of the most influential forms of societal support. There exists a more accepted “neutral” justification for assimilation purposes that is called formal neutrality. This justification alludes to the government’s concern of making assimilation accessible, in order to guarantee at least two basics rights, as aforementioned — the right to economic opportunity and the right to democratic participation. Moreover, sharing a national language will save the state resources on translating documents, providing interpreter and educating schoolteachers. It is worth noting that none of these reasons to promote a common language mentions the superiority of one language over another; they solely bring up the importance of securing the interests of the state.

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Nonetheless, this policy does not seem to be enough for some to show that the state, as a civic nation, does not endorse a particular culture. The government may not be harbouring any discriminatory intentions. However, its policies are indistinguishable from those of a “liberal culturalist” government, which would implement the same agenda in order to favour the majority national culture, which would clash with the values expressed by a civic state. Due to the lack of regulations for “formal neutrality”, the state sends the message that the majority nation owns the state and that minorities are second-class citizens. The author Anna Stilz came up with the more tailored approach of the “least-cost model”, which consists in the promotion for the citizens’ fundamental interest by imposing rationalization policies at the least cost to individuals invested in other languages. Following this model for linguistic diversity, the state should allow for the public promotion of minority languages alongside the majority language.

The author explores further the viability of this policy using the cases of Wales and Iceland as examples as to when this policy should be applied. While in Wales, the majority language is English, the presence of Welsh has been increasing over the past few years, but is there any real contribution to the citizens’ economic and political participation?

On the other hand, we have Iceland, a country whose official national language isn’t present anywhere else in the world, and therefore has no use outside of its borders. For this reason, the promotion of other languages is necessary in order to prepare their citizens for a European labour market. The creation of language polices are born from the nation’s need to preserve the best interest of its citizens.

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What Is The Significance Of The Nation In Shaping Language Policy? (2022, February 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/what-is-the-significance-of-the-nation-in-shaping-language-policy/
“What Is The Significance Of The Nation In Shaping Language Policy?” Edubirdie, 18 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/what-is-the-significance-of-the-nation-in-shaping-language-policy/
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