ERIC Number: ED276266
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985-Jul-17
Reference Count: 0
What Is a National Language Good for?
The question of what a national language is good for has been asked and answered many times, and the validity of each answer depends on historical circumstances. Many assume that there is a direct relationship between language and nation. Leibniz argued in 1683, at a time when bilingualism was socially stratifying, that nation and language flourish together. He advocated cultivation of German as a national language in order to spread education broadly. Later, Fichte saw language as the voice of the nation and theorized about qualitative differences between languages. Humboldt wrote about the concept of nation and national character based on language. Industrialization, urbanization, and growing linguistic nationalism in Western Europe influenced the crystallization of ethnic and linguistic identities on the continent. However, the issue of political autonomy for a linguistically defined group has proven to be divisive, as in the Greek struggle against Turkish rule. In Africa, decolonization has produced new states, but language has not been a cohesive symbol or influence. In some cases, such as India, colonization and language importation have effectively denationalized the native language, and the process of decolonization reopens the question of ideology and national languages. A four-page reference list concludes the document. (MSE)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: In: What Are National Languages Good For? Florian Coulmas, Ed.; see FL 016 231.