ETAL | Professor Bernadette O' Rourke | This is the UK so speak English! - linguistic intolerance, anonymity and monolingual regimes.
From Nelly Iacobescu
Edinburgh TESOL and Applied Language (ETAL) research group spring seminar series.
Professor Bernie O'Rourke (Heriot-Watt University) will be presenting This is the UK so speak English! - linguistic intolerance, anonymity and monolingual regimes.
Over recent decades important changes have taken place in the linguistic ecologies of contemporary societies as a result of globalization, increased mobility and transnational networking. While there have been attempts at transnational and national levels to address the opportunities and challenges brought about by increased linguistic diversity, the management of such diversity on many levels continues to be influenced by the traditional foundations of linguistic nationalism. Such foundations have tended to be based on the principles of linguistic homogeneity, nativeness and monolingualism. These principles have kept in place a social order which has come to be characterized by socioeconomic hierarchies and inequalities with linguistic difference playing a key role. Such principles also constituted and continue to penetrate the basic epistemologies of linguistics itself, giving primacy to the “native”, “first language”, “mother tongue” speaker of a language as a linguistic model over the “non-native” or “second language” speaker. As a result, the social and linguistic practices of “non-canonical” speakers have been at best ignored and at worst disparaged (O’Rourke and Pujolar 2013).
In the current social and political climate we are seeing an even greater return to monolingual regimes leading to linguistic intolerance at many levels. In this paper I will examine the ideologies behind such intolerance and why certain profiles of speakers (new speakers, native speakers) and users of particular languages (majority or minority languages) are given more authority than others. I will draw specifically on the concept of anonymity as explored by Gal and Woolard (2001: 6) which they use to refer to the “ideological foundation of the political authority of the Habermasian bourgeois public sphere (Habermas 1989) [which ]supposedly includes everyone, but […]abstracts away from each person's private and interested individual characteristics to distil a common or general voice”.
Bernadette O’Rourke Professor of Sociolinguistics in the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies, School of Social Sciences at Heriot-Watt University. Her research focuses on the role of language in the construction of social difference and social inequality. Drawing on theoretical frameworks and concepts in the area of sociolinguistics and the sociology of language in her work she has examined these processes as they unfold in bilingual and multilingual communities. She is Deputy Director of the Intercultural Research Centre and leads a research cluster on language planning and policy, language rights and language ideologies. She is Chair of COST Action IS1306 (2013-2017) New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities and Challenges.