Linguistic Ecology: Language Change and Linguistic Imperialism in the Pacific Region

By Peter Mühlhäusler | Go to book overview

7

Official policies and language planning

A language policy which goes counter to existing sociocultural faces is not likely to be successful.

(Paulston 1992:56)


INTRODUCTION
I have demonstrated in some detail that the linguistic ecology of the Pacific area has always been subject to deliberate acts of human interference. These range from traditional efforts to create esoteric and special languages and attempts by missionaries to create a suitable mission medium to more recent campaigns for literacy and language education. The term ‘natural language’ in referring to languages such as Kâte, Indonesian or Chamorro is therefore a totally unsuitable label, suggesting a spurious division between linguistic objects and human users, observers and planners. This chapter takes cognizance of such past human activities. However, it will focus on a development from the mid-nineteenth century which coincides with the emergence of centrally controlled modern colonies and nation-states, namely the phenomenon of language planning. Traditionally, writers on this topic distinguish between status planning, that is, official policies enhancing the status of selected languages, and corpus planning, which constitutes activities directed at increasing the referential power, modernity or systematic adequacy of the languages thus selected. In the light of changes in the 1980s in this area, a second dichotomy is suggested, that between streamlining the information flow and maintenance of diversity. All language planning requires certain ecological conditions. The planning activities described in this chapter presuppose:
1 control and power by government
2 clear goals
3 technical expertise.

-173-

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