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Towards a tool to analyze linguistic justice: Essential interdisciplinary parameters

  1. Towards a tool to analyze linguistic justice: Essential interdisciplinary parameters Federico Gobbo Amsterdam / Milano-Bicocca / Torino Javier Alcalde Scuola Normale Superiore
  2. Contents 1. Linguistic justice within political philosophy 2. The Multiculturalism Policy (MCP) Index 3. Sociolinguistic parameters 4. Linguistic uneasiness 5. Conclusion
  3. 1. Linguistic justice  Interdisciplinary approach: contributions from political philosophy to economics and various fields of linguistics  Diversity of approaches can lead to different objectives and ultimately to divergent agendas  On political philosophy, we focus on an empirical approach that considers the respect of language rights unavoidable
  4. Multiculturalism  Linguistic justice as protecting language rights of minority groups  The aim is to allow them to use their language in the public sphere to balance the injustice that would happen if they had to shift to another language  Typical examples of such minorities who deserve language rights include the case of the Catalans in Spain and the case of Quebec in Canada
  5. 2. The Multiculturalism Policy Index  Keith Banting and Will Kymlicka  It monitors multiculturalism policies in 21 Western democracies  3 points in time: 1980, 2000, 2010  3 minority groups: immigrant groups, national minorities and indigenous peoples
  6. 2. The Multiculturalism Policy Index  Theory: Kymlicka’s “multicultural turn” since the 1960s in public policies regarding ethnocultural diversity  Results: the average MCP score across the countries has increased from 1980 to 2000, and from 2000 to 2010  Conclusion: Results confirm the theoretical predictions by Kymlicka’s school of thought
  7. MPC Index - methodology  It measures the presence or absence of a range of policies  Each indicator is related with a policy dimension where (liberal-democratic) states face a choice about whether or not become supportive of minorities  8 policies for immigrant groups (e.g. multicultural education)  6 policies for national minorities (e.g. official language status)  9 policies for indigenous peoples (e.g. land claims)  These policies are equally weighted
  8. 2.1 National minorities  Federal or quasi-federal territorial autonomy  Official language status, either in the region or nationally  Guarantees of representation in the central government or on constitutional courts  Public funding of minority language university/schools/media  Constitutional or parliamentary affirmation of multinationalism  According international personality
  9. 2.2. Indigenous peoples  Recognition of land rights/title  Recognition of self-government rights  Upholding historic treaties and/or signing new treaties  Recognition of cultural rights  Recognition of customary law  Guarantees of representation in the central government  Legislative affirmation of their distinct status  Support for international instruments on indigenous rights  Affirmative action
  10. 2.3 Immigrant minorities  Legislative affirmation of multiculturalism  Adoption of multiculturalism in school curriculum  Inclusion of ethnic representation/sensitivity in the media  Exemptions from dress-codes, Sunday-closing legislation  Dual citizenship  Funding of ethnic organizations to support cultural activities  Funding of bilingual education or mother-tongue instruction  Affirmative action for disadvantaged immigrant groups
  11. 2.4. MCP Index - strengths  Use of data. It can be used to test explanatory hypotheses on an empirical basis  It’s systematic. It can be used to compare among countries and also across-time  Data are freely available. It can be adjusted by researchers, according to their own definition of MCP
  12. 2.4. MCP Index - weaknesses  The ‘list’ of equally weighted policies is questionable  There is no specific hypothesis stating which multicultural policies are the fundamental ones  Some terms are not defined (e.g. guarantees of representation)  Only data for 21 Western countries and only in 3 points of time  Variables tend to be dichotomous and with inconsistency  Inexactitudes regarding the accuracy of the data  The standard is low. It gives a value of 1 if a country “has met or exceeded the standard outlined in the indicator”
  13. 2.4. MCP Index - weaknesses  Lack of sociolinguistic parameters  On language planning it only considers formal status planning  There is nothing about corpus planning nor language acquisition  There is nothing about informal or non-formal language planning  Language vigour is not considered at all  Our argument: The inclusion of sociolinguistic parameters in the evaluation of language policies can improve our understanding (and measurement) of linguistic justice
  14. 3. Sociolinguistic parameters  Overcoming the Westphalian model, sociolinguistics has been recently applied to situations of languages in contact and speakers' complex repertoires  Complex sociolinguistic situations, e.g. where 3 or more speech communities share the same territory  The aim is to reduce the linguistic inequalities among the members of the speech community so that individuals are at ease in their use of their language
  15. 4. Linguistic uneaseness  “A situation in which speakers feel that their pragmatic linguistic competence is not fitting the communicative requirements of the linguistic act they are about to perform” (Dell'Aquila, Gobbo and Iannàccaro, 2017)  This is operationalised as a gap between the (socio)linguistic competences of the individual and the (socio)linguistic expectations of the community of reference
  16. Scale of Linguistic Easiness Position Consequences Causes 1 Enjoy a strong social position Knowledge of all in-group code(s), mastery of the Wunschprache 0 No consequences Knowledge of all in-group-code(s), ignorance of the Wunschsprache -1 Unease in (some) formal situations (partial) ignorance of the high-variety -2 Unease in (some) in- group relations (partial) ignorance of in-group code(s) -3 Out-grouping, respected Ignorance of all the codes within the community, mastery of the Wunschsprache -4 Out-grouping, severe Ignorance of all the respected codes within the community and the Wunschsprache
  17. Conclusion  An interdisciplinary approach of linguistic justice allows to improve the measurement of language rights by considering direct and indirect tools  Directly, through the official, overt policies that can be measured through tools such as the MCP Index  Indirectly, through the unofficial, covert policies that can be measured through tools such as the Scale of Linguistic Easiness
  18. Thank you!