Theories of language planning

Language planning

There is a long history of conscious efforts to influence and indeed determine language. Nekvapil (2011) provides an overview of its earlier stages, such as the activities of the French Academy, language planning in the early decades of the Soviet Union and the contributions of the Prague school. The modern current of research on language planning, however, emerged from American sociolinguistics of the 1950s. One of its founding figures was Einar Haugen, who developed the notion of language planning in his studies of how the modern standard varieties of Norwegian were created (Haugen 1959,1966,1968). After an initial, concrete definition of language planning as the “preparing of a normative grammar, orthography and dictionary for the guidance of writers and speakers in a non-homogeneous speech community” (Haugen 1959: 8), he proceeded to a more abstract view - language planning as the evaluation of linguistic change (Haugen 1966). Thus language planning research, he argued, should study the agents and stakeholders involved in the process, and describe planning as a decision process in the sense of decision theory (Haugen 1966: 52-53).

In Haugen’s (1983: 270) model, the language planning process consists of four stages: “(1) selection of norm; (2) codification of norm; (3) implementation of function; and (4) elaboration of function”. It has been used widely since its publication in 1966. Thereafter, language planning research was organized around a series of international congresses (see Fishman, Ferguson and Das Gupta 1968; Rubin and Jernudd 1971; Rubin et al. 1977; Cobarrubias and Fishman 1983; Laforge 1987), research projects, and publication outlets. Generally, research focussed on developing countries, but developed ones were not ignored. Thus, cases like Quebec French and Catalan, and the language policy of France, were discussed within this framework. Language planning theory tended to focus on top-down approaches, such as the actions of governments, or specialists, which were seen as rational actors.

The distinction between corpus planning and status planning was introduced by Kloss (1969: 81). Status planning means the allocation of social functions to languages (e.g., through laws and regulations prescribing the use of a particular language), whereas corpus planning is concerned with the language’s form and encompasses, for example, orthography, normative grammar and the creation of new terms. These two concepts are used by most researchers, although some have defined additional objectives of language planning, such as acquisition planning (Cooper 1989: 33) or prestige planning (Haarmann 1986: 86-87). Fishman (2004) discusses the occasionally complicated interrelationship between the two aspects of language planning and the significance of puristic and non-puristic orientations for language planning in societies.

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