Some of the questions the course will deal with include:   
  • Should mother-tongue education be a right?
  • To what extent can law offer equal treatment to different language communities?
  • Do states 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:

  1. Describe what language rights are and explain controversies surrounding the issue
  2. Critically examine the promise and limitations of language rights
  3. Demonstrate an awareness of the interconnections between language policy, politics and law
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of legal regimes that protect language use
  5. Engage with the philosophical debate about linguistic justice




We will meet for 3 hours per week. The meetings will comprise formal lectures, in-class debates and discussions, and other learning activities.




In-class debate (oral): 20%
Debate report (written): 20%
Research project/Term paper: 50%
Participation 10%




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.
Williams (2013) Perfidious Hope: The Legislative Turn in Official Minority Language Regimes. Regional and Federal Studies 23(1): 101-122. 



Last updated: 3 August 2018