Family language policy and the conservation of minority languages

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The previous chapter was a general introduction of the study. It introduced the general research area and situated the present study within its methodological and theoretical perspectives. The previous chapter also provided a sketch of the literature review. This chapter provides a comprehensive literature review of the study. As has been acknowledged in the rationale section of this thesis in chapter 1, family language policy (FLP) is a very recent development in language policy studies, as such there is still a dearth of studies focusing on the impact of family language policy on the conservation of ethnic minority languages in general and Zimbabwe in particular. However, Curdt-Christiansen (2013) notes in the past decade, FLP has been gaining momentum and has been receiving considerable attention as scholars seek to understand questions such as why (and how) do members of some transnational families maintain their language while members of other families lose their heritage language. FLP studies have also sought to understand the policies and practices that parents employ to promote and discourage the use of certain languages in bilingual communities (Curdt-Christiansen, 2013).
Further, FLP studies have frequently sought to understand how these language policies and practices are negotiated in private domains and concomitantly, related to broader ideologies of language and language education policies (Curdt-Christiansen, 2013). A lot of studies have been devoted to the understanding of macro language policy in general, at the broader national level. Such studies are also reviewed here as they undoubtedly have the potential to shed light on the current subject. In the Zimbabwean and African context, there is a conspicuous lacuna of scholarship within the FLP tradition. Discussions on the role of the home domain as a micro planning sphere in language management have hardly been specialised and comprehensive. Many scholars working within the language revivalist conservationist paradigm do mention, albeit in passing the importance of the home and family domain in the intergenerational transmission of minority languages. However, no empirical studies have been done to ascertain the impact of FLP on the conservation of minority languages in Zimbabwe. This research is undoubtedly ground breaking in that sense.
Most studies on family language policy have tended to focus on heritage language maintenance among immigrant communities (e.g. Schwartz, 2008; Schwartz and Moin, 2011; Kayam, 2013; Altman, Burstein Feldman, Yitzhaki, Amarn Lotem and Walters, 2014). From the studies reviewed, it is apparent that most scholars working within the FLP tradition do not foreground language conservation as their concern, but are rather interested in the bilingual development of children in immigrant families. The researcher could not locate many studies that focused on family language policy among indigenous people in the context of minority language conservation and language revitalisation. Where mentioned, FLP is marginally treated and generalised, moreso within studies focusing particularly on Zimbabwe. In most cases, FLP is inferred than explicitly foregrounded as an important approach as far as understanding intergenerational transmission of minority languages is concerned.
This chapter begins by locating the study in the field of language policy by reference to definitions and approaches to language planning. The top down and the bottom up dichotomy in language planning are elucidated and clarified by reference to literature on the subject. This is done with the intention to locate the preferred approach on which the present study is grounded. The instrumental and the sociolinguistic approaches are also discussed and the preferred slant which informs this study is clarified. Literature review is presented using the funnel approach. World literature on FLP and minority language conservation is reviewed first, followed by the review of literature from the African stage in general. The review finally narrows down to literature focusing on Zimbabwe, which is the context to which the findings of the present study are intended to be generalised

Language planning and policy: Definitions and approaches

This section provides a review of literature that relates to the definitions of the concepts of language planning and policy as well as the various approaches to language planning and policy

Definitions of language planning and policy

In much of the literature, the definition of language planning is contested for a number of reasons. Different scholars with different intents and purposes have different conceptions of language planning. Deumert (2000) notes that the term language planning was first used by Einar Haugen in the late 1950s to refer to all “conscious efforts that aim at changing the linguistic behaviour of a speech community” Deumert, 2000:384). While language planning can also be summarily seen as a deliberate human intervention to language issues with a view to solve language related problems (Rubin and Jernudd, 1971; Das Gupta, 1973; Fishman, 1974; Karam, 1974), “there is no clear-cut or water-tight definition of language planning that is universally accepted” (Mutasa, 2009). This is because of the scope of language planning can vary from person to person, from time to time and from place to place (Darquennes, 2013) especially when considered as “a problem solving activity concerned with deliberate language change for specific aims, which may be social, political or educational (or a mixture of all three)” (Kennedy, 1983:1). Mutasa (2009) exclaims that the more than twelve definitions of language planning which appeared after the publication of Haugen’s (1959) article are testament to the problematic nature of defining language planning in a universally accepted sense.
However, a more comprehensive definition is given by Haugen (1987) who relates language planning to any deliberate, human initiated effort to alter a language(s) in terms of use, structure or acquisition and may even range from “proposing a new word to a new language’’ (Haugen, 1987:627). For the present study, the term can be appropriately understood as it relates to “deliberate efforts to influence the behaviour of others with respect to the acquisition, structure, or functional allocation of their language orders” (Cooper, 1989 cited in Viriri, 2003:5).This definition augers well into the scope of the present study. The present study seeks to understand the impact of family language policy on the conservation of minority languages in Zimbabwe. The significance of this definition is that it affords the concept of language planning to be extended to the family domain, where human actors, in the form of parents can deliberately initiate efforts to enforce or discourage the acquisition of particular languages within the family. Within the scope of the present study, language planning is also taken to refer to “the formulation and proclamation of an explicit plan or policy, usually but not necessarily written in a formal document about language use” (Spolsky, 2004:11). Because of its attempt to relate language practices, language beliefs and language management within the family to the broader language practices at macro level, the present study also interacts well with Mkanganwi’s (1992:222) views that:
Language planning reveals language as one more object of human manipulation-not only by language specialists but also by persons who may change its basic nature through their attitudes, their myths about language and their subjective reactions to language. Language planning may be defined as the conscious, predictive approach to language and language use. It has as its central focus the identification of language problems that are related both linguistically and socio-politically.
The above is also premised on Gernuud and Das Gupta’s (1971) idea that language is a resource that has to be planned in the same manner that other natural resources are. The planning therefore should culminate in a language policy, itself defined by Bamgbose (1991) as a programme of action on the role or status of a language in a community in relation to other languages in an essentially multilingual community. In the same vein, Spolsky (2004:11) opines that a language policy may take “the form of a clause in a constitution, or a language law, or a cabinet document or an administrative regulation.” Conceived this way, the concept of a language policy would be limited to official, formal decisions articulated at the government level regarding the use, status and promotion of language(s) (Kadenge and Mugari, 2015).
As intimated earlier, the notion of FLP in this study affords the concept of language policy to be extendable to more localised planning spheres such as the home domain. Some scholars nevertheless tend to use the two terms, language planning and language policy interchangeably (Deumert, 2000). However, although the two are sometimes used as synonyms, language policy precisely relates more to the general linguistic, political and social goals that underlie the actual planning process (Deumert, 2000). In other terms, a language policy would refer to a course of preferred action that is likely to bring remedy to a problematic situation. Depending on the situation, language planning may take different forms (Mkanganwi, 1992). Bamgbose (2003) argues that language policy is sometimes overt in terms of pronouncements, laws, regulations and constitutional provisions but sometimes may have to be inferred from observed practices. In other words, absence of a definitive policy statement does not mean absence of a policy; in fact, language policy is ever present in different forms (Bamgbose, 1991) in different spaces. Within the domain of the family, language management strategies deployed by parents can be “powerful mechanisms for affecting language practices, as they are supported by penalties and sanctions and can therefore ensure that policies carried out and turn from ideologies into practice” (Shohamy, 2006 cited in Kadenge and Mugari, 2015:3).
Language planning is normally determined by, and is reflective of the general government policy preferences. Noos (1971) cited in Bamgbose (1991:111) notes that:
There are three types of language policy: official language policy, which relates to languages recognised by the government and for what purposes; education language policy, which relates to the languages recognised by education authorities for use as media of instruction and subjects of study at the various levels of the public and private education; and general language policy which covers unofficial government recognition or tolerance of languages used in mass communication, business and contacts with foreigners.
The quote validates the point that any human effort aimed at influencing language use and choice in the domains identified would inform the language policy in the respective domains. However, in the whole scheme of things, family language policy is not given any form prominence. In fact, this is symptomatic of most literature on language planning and policy that does not give much attention to the importance of the home domain as a language management sphere whose language practices may impact on intergenerational transmission of minority languages. Although the types of language policies identified by Noos (1971) cited in Bamgbose (1991) are usually discussed in a mutually exclusive manner, it should be noted that these can potentially impinge on each other. For example, official language policy may affect language in education policy, while the general language policy may affect and be affected by family language policy. In a way, the different types of policies may not successfully be understood in isolation. It is this thinking that thesis is premised on. It is also the contention of this study that language planning is not confined to the more formal, public institutions on a macro scale but can also be practised in the family at the micro level. The language practices at the family level can also be taken as reflective of language policy within the broader context of language management

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Types of language planning

There are broadly three recognised types or dimensions (Deumert, 2000) of language planning in the literature. These are status planning, corpus planning and lastly acquisition planning. The first two are easy to elaborate on as they are largely visible and overt. Acquisition planning may not be easy to define and characterise as it is normally covert and undeclared

Status planning

Status planning refers to all efforts undertaken to change the use and function of a language or language variety within a given society, and this type of planning is responsible for prescribing official and national languages (Kadenge and Mugari, 2015) or the role of a language in a country at any level (Bamgbose, 1991). Status planning is usually a political activity as it involves the selection of a hierarchy of national and/or official languages (Bamgbose, 1991; Ndhlovu, 2009). The language that is spoken by the ruling elite is usually the one that is chosen to occupy the upper stratum in the hierarchy. It is inconceivable that ruling elite can choose a language that is not their own to be the official or national language. The official or national status usually bestows prestige upon the selected language as it becomes the language of government and all official business in the state. As such, the languages of the rulers are more likely to be chosen (Fasold, 1984). As argued by Mkanganwi (1992), although governments may be powerful (especially in the selection process); it is difficult for them to force people to adopt certain linguistic habits. This is partly due to the fact that there could be an existence of certain sociolinguistic factors that may militate against the preferred choices, albeit unbeknown to the planning authorities (Mkanganwi, 1992). In some instances, planning authorities may have simply chosen to ignore the sociolinguistic factors. The present research proceeds from the realisation that although the government articulated language policies are likely to succeed, partly because government has the power to enact legislation to compel implementation, in isolation government initiated policies in may not really be the best panacea for minority language conservation and maintenance. This is so because the macro policies may be in conflict with the micro preferences at the family or community level. In this regard, this thesis seeks to integrate the macro and the micro spheres of language policy into a  complementary language management currency

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1.1 Background
1.2 Statement of the problem
1.3 Aims of the study
1.4 Definition of Key terms
1.5 Rationale for the study
1.6 Literature review
1.7 Theoretical framework
1.8 Research methodology
1.9 Scope of Study
1.10 Conclusion
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Language planning and policy : Definitions and approaches
2.3 Approaches in language planning
2.4 Family language policy and the conservation of minority languages
2.5 Conclusion
3.1 Introduction
3.2 The Language Management Theory (LMT)
3.3 Reversing Language Shift theory (RLS)
3.4 Conclusion
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Research Design
4.3 Target population
4.4 Sampling techniques
4.5 Data collection techniques
4.6 Data analysis and presentation plan.
4.7 Validity and reliability concerns of the study
4.8 Ethical considerations
4.9 Conclusion
5.1 Introduction
5.4 Participants’ other family members’ linguistic repertoires
5.5 Respondents’ awareness of the ‘minority’ status of their home language
5.6 Participants’ views regarding the importance of home language conservation
5.7 Participants’ awareness of their roles as language managers in home language conservation
5.8 Parental language preferences in the home domain
5.9 Participants’ observations regarding their children’s language preferences and practices in the home
5.10 Participants’ views regarding parental strategies of encouraging the use of the mother tongue at home
5.11 Participants’ views regarding obstacles encountered towards achieving preferred language practices in the home
5.12 Participants’ assessment of their children’s proficiency in the home language.
5.13 Participants’ views on the impact of family language policy on children’s proficiency levels in the mother tongue
5.14 Participant’s views regarding their awareness of community initiatives aimed at minority language conservation
5.15 Participants’ views regarding expected governmental support in minority language conservation
5.17 Conclusion
6.1 Introduction
6.2 The nature of family language policy ng the Kalanga
6.3 Parental language preferences versus children’s language practices at home: A mismatch between ideology and practice
6.4 Children’s proficiency levels in the home language: Success or failure of FLP?
6.5 ‘Parental capitals’ as language management tools deployed in the realisation of FLP
6.6 Children’s agency in enacting and directing FLP.
6.7 Conclusion
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Research findings
7.3 Recommendations for further research
7.4 Recommendations for future practice

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