The language policies and rules that nations draw up dictate which form of language will be taught in schools and used as the official tongue of the nation. The focus of this book is to look at language policy in three very different nations and to examine how their policies are grounded in each of their own cultures. By looking closely at the multilingual democracies of India, France and the US, Harold Schiffman examines how their policies evolved. The author shows how language policy is primarily a social construct that rests on other conceptual elements such as belief systems, attitudes and myths. It is these elements that the author presents as the linguistic culture of a society. Contrary to viewing language policy as the specific, overt and explicit embodiment of rules, this book examines how these policies are formed within a broader framework and are heavily influenced by the covert and implicit grass-roots of its own linguistic culture. By seeing language policy as culture-specific we can understand why language policies evolve the way they do, why they work, or not, and how people's lives are affected by them.
In addition, the author also focuses on one linguistic minority region of each of his chosen nations, to show how linguistic minorities in these areas have been dealt with over the centuries, and how policies have evolved to deal with these challenges to the 'official' language. This book will be of interest to linguists specialising in multilingual/multicultural societies, bilingual educationalists, curriculum planners and teachers.
Harold F. Schiffman is Professor of South Asian Regional Studies and Luce Professor of Language Learning at the University of Pennsylvania