The first part of the course offers a broad introduction to theories of language, linguistic diversity, rights and justice. We trace the evolution of language rights and explore the historical connections of such evolution with nation states, warfare, and globalization. The second part of the course focuses on a number of illustrative cases. It surveys some of the ways in which concepts of language and rights have been envisioned, formulated and used across a range of contexts, including (but not limited to) education, politics and academic linguistics. The third part of the course focuses on the philosophical and moral basis of language politics, addresses sources of contention, and queries the concept of ‘linguistic justice’. Together with student presentations, these discussions provide a lens through which tensions between language, linguistic theory and politics may be probed.
Some of the questions the course will deal with include:
- Should mother tongue education be a right?
- In what ways have theories of language, language rights and linguistic justice been used for political ends?
- Do states and individuals have a moral obligation to keep an endogenous language alive?
- Is the emergence of English as a global lingua franca a form of linguistic imperialism?
At the end of this course, students who fulfill the requirements of this course will be able to:
- Describe what language rights are and explain controversies surrounding the issue
- Critically examine the promise and limitations of language rights
- Demonstrate an awareness of the interconnections between linguistic theory and politics
- Demonstrate knowledge of current research on the uptake of language rights, linguistic justice and related concepts in language policy frameworks
- Engage with the philosophical debate about language rights and linguistic justice
We will meet for 2 hours per week. The meetings will comprise formal lectures, student presentations and discussions, and other learning activities.
Mid-term report (1,500 words) 35%
Research project/essay (2,500 words) 65%
Tentative list of reading materials:
Anderson, Benedict (2006) Imagined Communities. Verso.
Billig, Michael (1995) Banal Nationalism. Sage.
Chen, Albert H Y (1998) The Philosophy of Language Rights. Language Sciences 20(1): 45-54.
Hobsbawm, E. J. (2006) Nations and Nationalism since 1780. Canto.
Kymlicka and Patten (2007) Language Rights and Political Theory. Oxford University Press.
May, Modood and Squires (2004) Ethnicity, Nationalism and Minority Rights. Cambridge University Press.
May, Stephen (2012) Language and Minority Rights (2nd Edition). Routledge.
Paz (2013) The Failed Promise of Language Rights: A Critique of the International Language Rights Regime. Harvard International Law Journal 54(1): 157-218.
Pupavac (2012) Language Rights: From Free Speech to Linguistic Governance. Palgrave.
Rawls (1999) A Theory of Justice (Revised Edition). Harvard University Press.
Skutnabb-Kangas (2000) Linguistic Genocide in Education – Or Worldwide Diversity and Human Rights? Lawrence Erlbaum.
Van Parijs (2011) Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World. Oxford University Press.
Van Parijs (2015) Lingua franca and linguistic territoriality. Why they both matter to justice and why justice matters for both. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 18(2): 224-240.
Wee (2010). Language without Rights. Oxford University Press.
Williams (2013) Perfidious Hope: The Legislative Turn in Official Minority Language Regimes. Regional and Federal Studies 23(1): 101-122.