Summaries of chapters
This book therefore is a research conversation informed by a shared concern about the limitations of existing conceptual literature on the relationship between language and nationalism. We propose that the current reassessment of the Herde-rian model can be fruitfully extended in two complementary directions: in space, beyond Europe, and in time, beyond the contemporary. The authors in this volume work from diverse archives across Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean, and by doing so, we propose answers to the aforementioned questions from a global perspective that takes into account the specificities of a range of colonial experiences and political regimes. And by extending the discussion backwards in time, a more historical reading of the making of modern nations can allow us to see how multilingualism has always disnipted constructions of monoglot nations. As it is, most conversations about our research questions have been field and language specific. This volume also seeks to unite multiple strands of inquiry and disciplinary approaches, which could lead to alternative readings of the relationship between language and nation. We trust that this innovation will provoke further cross-fertilization of ideas across diverse fields and disciplines.
We begin the conversation with Helder De Schutter, whose chapter is an examination of the contemporary relevance of the philosophy of Herder, and how Herder’s philosophy can be used to justify the recognition and protection of languages today. De Schutter outlines clearly Herder’s philosophy on how language opens a "life-world”, and how within this argument presents a dilemma—one that assumes and favours monolingualism, which in essence goes against the idea of linguistic diversity. De Schutter proposes how Herder can be used effectively to defend language recognition as it is possible to reject the monolingual understanding while still holding on to the life-world account by allowing individuals and territories characterized by linguistic hybridity to be constitutively embedded in their linguistic horizon(s). Purifying Herder’s life-world argument from its monolingual bias, and thus injecting the hybridity conception of language into Herder's life-world argument. De Schutter renews the reading of Herder's theory, making it fit for contemporary language recognition projects.
Stephen May pushes the applicability of the Herderian model further by unravelling the Herderian idea of a reified national language and thereby arguing for an alternative linguistic ideology for the contemporary nation-state. In May’s discussion, he takes us through the history of how the Herderian juxtaposition of language and nation has produced a hierarchy of languages with the national language at the top and minority as well as regional languages lagging at the bottom has led to the migrant languages. As a counterpoint to recent scholarly responses using the Vertovec’s (2007) idea of superdiversity, May proposes that we draw on Kraus' notion of complex diversity that allows for the fluid and constructed nature of language identity while also recognizing that these identities exist in social, cultural, and political contexts. Complex diversity allows us to question the modernist state’s monolingualism while continuing to enable group-based linguistic activism that recognizes the claims of both migrants and indigenous peoples.
Through a history of language politics in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Ireland, Tony Crowley explores the legacies of Herder’s monolingualism in Ireland. He argues that the politics of this period illustrates how Ireland falls into what he calls Herder’s "language trap”. Crowley shows how Herder’s philosophy of language has enabled Irish nationalism through its insistence of the importance of cultural particularism founded on the Irish language. Through a history of the language debates in the Irish public sphere and English- and Irish-driven language policy from the eighteenth century to contemporary times, Crowley illustrates how this early dependence of Herderian monoglossia has meant that everyday heteroglossia has had to be denied in the service of the monoglot Irish nation. This is essentially the Herderian language trap as it does not allow everyday multilingual realities to inform nationalist linguistic politics. In fact, this insistence on monoglossia has served as an alibi for reactionary politics amongst some sections of the post-independence Irish political sphere.
Rosina Lozano’s chapter questions the monoglot nature of the modern American State through the framework of settler colonialism. This approach allows Lozano to unravel the notion that the United States of America is and has been a monolingual English-speaking nation. By focusing on the State and Territorial Legislative Session laws from the 1830s to the 1930s, Lozano illustrates how the emergent American state was able to absorb linguistic differences amongst its settler population of European language speakers by keeping the stipulations on the language of governance fairly broad. To make her case, Lozano carefully tracks the use of translation of official documents from English to European languages like German and Spanish to illustrate how the State sought to accommodate other language speakers. By coupling the history of American language policy and settler colonialism, Lozano has illustrated the complex legacies of Herderian linguistic and nationalist thought.
Pritipuspa Mishra explores these complex legacies of Herderian thought through a focus on India’s search for a common national language. At the centre of this search was a language called Hindustani. Through a history of the debates around this language, Mishra illustrates the profound impact of the Herderian dictum of one nation-one language on how the nation dealt with contentious nature of linguistic politics in India. Drawing on Peter Novack’s discussion of historical objectivity as myth, Mishra shows how a common national language served as an organizing myth that would hold at bay the disintegration threatened by linguistic politics across regional India through a promise of unity. Like a myth, this common national language was simply a noble dream and not a reality. However, even as the promise of Hindustani dissipated by the 1970s, the underlying narratives of common cultural origin remained dominant in Indian nationalist thought. Therefore, for India, the impact of normative Herderian ideas of linguistic nationalism was in the realm of ideology rather than in the realm of linguistic policy making as the multilingual reality of India could never really measure up to the Herderian ideal.
Janet Y. Chen’s paper tells the story of putonghua. This is a story of how the Chinese, at both the state level and the level of the speech communities, come to terms with the learning of this imposed "standard” or "common language” in China in the 1950s. This paper is held together by the idea of "laughing”, or perhaps more negatively, of "mockery”. And yet this is no joking matter, as the learning ofputonghna was and remains a state project that belies the Herderian ideal. And this social history ofpromoting and learning Putonghua opens up a few questions that are not only historically interesting but also linguistically significant. The construction of a national identity, as we have been led to believe, by Herder no less, is one that is bound to the idea of the national language. Janet elucidated that the putonghna is really a repackaged form of the national language—and the appeal lies precisely in the moving away from the discourse of the "nation” (i.e. state) to one that is of the people (common language). And this is a rhetorical move that seemingly gives power to the people in the process of linguistic unity.
Nkonko Kamwangamalu's paper presents a view of how Herder can be applied in post-colonial Africa. Despite his championing linguistic homogeneity, Herder arguably never envisioned one continent colonizing and imposing its languages on another, as happened with Europe’s colonization and imposition of its languages in the African continent. It is against the background of Herder's view of linguistic diversity and of his criticism of colonial powers that this paper seeks to propose an alternative to inherited colonial language ideologies, including the ideology of the nation-state and the ideology of development, both of which have informed Africa’s language-in-education policies since colonialism ended 60 years ago to the present. Kanwangamalu. in essence, explores why, in post-colonial Africa, the inherited monolingual model favouring European languages as the sole medium of instruction in school persists. Drawing on theoretical developments in language economics and critical theory, Kanwangamalu proposes that prestige planning for African languages is the way forward to changing the status quo.
Andrew M. Daily’s chapter illustrates how the history of slavery and diaspora in the Caribbean unravels the Herderian framework for linguistic nationalism. By focusing on Eduardo Glissant's engagement with the question of what should be the language of the Caribbean, Daily has shown how the need to have a uniting national language left the region with no prior models to build upon. Caribbean peoples, formed from histories of violence, displacement, slavery, and creoliza-tion, do not easily fit into Herder's organic account of the nation. There were only two choices available in the Caribbean—a construction of national language based on African languages through a celebration of negritude, or a language drawn from the creole experience of the Caribbean people. And yet neither of these options fits the Herderian model. Daily argues that Glissant can help us to understand how the Caribbean experience of modernity challenges organicist nationalism and poses new models of national identity and cultural belonging.
Ying-Ying Tan’s paper is an application of the Herderian philosophy to the small, seemingly multilingual, post-colonial state of Singapore. Her paper outlines a story of how the state negotiates and presents multilingualism in language policies that are seemingly un-Herderian. Unpacking and outlining the state’s different strategies to manage linguistic diversity, Tan highlights a new nation’s struggles to maintain the facade of multilingualism while promoting the use of the
Questioning the Herderian ideal 13 colonial language. She also shows how the carefully crafted multilingual policies are multilingual only in form, but monolingual in practice. Using sociolingüístic data as evidence. Tan presents a picture of how Singapore today is confronted by a set of linguistic realities that seem to move away from multilingualism. Her paper argues how multilingual Singapore is a myth created to balance the development of the Herderian ideal and the realities of how languages come to represent the nation.