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Language and Social Change in Central Europe

Language and Social Change in Central Europe: Discourses on Policy, Identity and the German Language

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Language and Social Change in Central Europe
    Book Description:

    This book explores the dynamics of language and social change in central Europe in the context of the end of the Cold War and eastern expansion of the European Union. One outcome of the profound social transformations in central Europe since the Second World War has been the reshaping of the relationship between particular languages and linguistic varieties, especially between 'national' languages and regional or ethnic minority languages. Previous studies have investigated these transformed relationships from the macro perspective of language policies, while others have taken more fine-grained approaches to individual experiences with language. Combining these two perspectives for the first time - and focusing on the German language, which has a uniquely complex and problematic history in the region - the authors offer an understanding of the complex constellation of language politics in central Europe.Stevenson and Carl's analysis draws on a range of theoretical, conceptual and analytical approaches - language ideologies, language policy, positioning theory, discourse analysis, narrative analysis and life histories - and a wide range of data sources, from European and national language policies to individual language biographies. The authors demonstrate how the relationship between German and other languages has played a crucial role in the politics of language and processes of identity formation in the recent history of central Europe.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3599-3
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. Transcription Conventions
    (pp. x-x)
  6. Map of Central Europe
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    Why Switzerland? Jonathan Steinberg poses this beguilingly simple and provocative question in the title of his popular social history of the small alpine nation (Steinberg 1976, 1996). The choice of title was justified by the book’s project, which was to explain two – later three – key questions: ‘why a place as idiosyncratic as Switzerland existed, and why non-Swiss should care’ (the third question, added in the second edition, was ‘why Switzerland should continue to exist’; Steinberg 1996: xi). Curiously though, in his preliminary discussion of these issues, the author places Switzerland ‘at the geographical centre of Europe’ (xii). While a case...

  8. 2 Discourses on language in social life: theoretical and methodological orientations
    (pp. 10-42)

    In our attempt to understand the complex and multiple functions of language in the highly diversified sociolinguistic space (or ‘linguascape’: Coupland 2003) of central Europe, combining diachronic and synchronic perspectives, we will necessarily draw on a wide range of information sources and theoretical influences. However, at the heart of our discussion will be an investigation not so much of language contact or multilingual practices, of the relationships between languages and their speakers, as of different ways in which people engage with ideas about language at many different levels. Our principal object of study will be what we shall refer to...

  9. 3 Sociolinguistic histories and the footprint of German in eastern central Europe
    (pp. 43-81)

    In this chapter we will construct a historical context for the study of language contact and multilingualism in eastern central Europe, with a particular focus on Hungary and the Czech Republic. Our aim is to show what social and cultural spaces language policies and ideologies in Hungary and in what is now the Czech Republic have created in the past and for whom, and how their histories relate to the wider context of historic developments in the central European region. The key questions here are: which languages were important at what time and why, and what was the position of...

  10. 4 Language policy discourses: interventions and intersections
    (pp. 82-126)

    In Chapter 3 we traced the past and the present of the politics of language and identity in Hungary and the Czech Republic. In order to demonstrate that the present-day policies on language, multilingualism and national identity at different political levels do not exist in isolation from one another, we will show in this chapter how they are linked vertically with discourses at the EU level as well as horizontally with the discourses on foreign cultural policy in Germany and Austria. Therefore, we focus here on the complex layering of language policies by exploring the multiple levels at which they...

  11. 5 Language (auto)biographies: narrating multilingual selves
    (pp. 127-160)

    In this chapter, we navigate away from the ‘big picture’ of policy discourses and towards the more intimate domain of individual experience. Both here and in the following chapter we shall draw on the same corpus of personal interviews but in rather different ways and for different purposes. The language biographies that constitute part of these interviews represent a particular kind of discourse on language in social life. In Chapter 6, we will try to show how such interviews provide a source of data on ways in which individuals select from a range of social and linguistic categories made available...

  12. 6 Language ideologies: negotiating linguistic identities
    (pp. 161-201)

    In this chapter, we will again consider ways in which individuals navigate their passage through the changing and sometimes turbulent circumstances of their lives in the accounts they give of their personal experiences with language, but from a different perspective. While in Chapter 5 our principal concern was with the processes by which individuals as narrators construct a coherent image or interpretation of their past in the development and articulation of their life stories, we will focus here on the second function of language biographies discussed in Chapter 2 (p. 27) as a ‘privileged locus for the negotiation of identities’...

  13. 7 Conclusions
    (pp. 202-207)

    To understand ‘what language achieves in people’s lives’ (Blommaert 2003: 608), we need to understand the historical conditions that create the limits of what it is possible for language to achieve. This means, first, determining the sets of beliefs and values associated with particular languages and language varieties in the discourses prevailing in given societies at given times: what we have been referring to through the now established conception of language ideologies; second, identifying how these ideologies influence discourses on language policy, which not only generate specific policies but also contribute to what Townson (1992) calls the ‘communicative environment’ (that...

  14. Appendix A: European institutions and documents concerning language policy
    (pp. 208-211)
  15. Appendix B: Preamble to the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
    (pp. 212-213)
  16. Appendix C: Introduction to the 2005 Commission Communication ‘A New Framework Strategy for Multilingualism’
    (pp. 214-215)
  17. Appendix D: Introduction to the 2008 Commission Communication ‘Multilingualism: an asset for Europe and a shared commitment’
    (pp. 216-217)
  18. Appendix E: German and Austrian agents and institutions in foreign cultural policy
    (pp. 218-221)
  19. Appendix F: Extract from ‘Auswärtige Kulturpolitik – Konzeption 2000’
    (pp. 222-224)
  20. Appendix G: Extract from the Goethe-Institut’s description on their website www.goethe-de: ‘Leitbild des Goethe-Instituts’ (‘central focus of the Goethe-Institut’)
    (pp. 225-226)
  21. Appendix H: Extract from the Austrian Foreign Cultural Policy Concept – Auslandskulturkonzept NEU
    (pp. 227-229)
  22. Appendix I: Extracts from the Presentation of the ‘Plattform Kultur-Mitteleuropa’ (Platform Culture Central Europe) at
    (pp. 230-230)
  23. Appendix J: Extract from the Austrian report on foreign cultural policy ‘Austria Kulturint Tätigkeitsbericht 2002 Auslandskultur’
    (pp. 231-233)
  24. Appendix K: Extract from 2001 White Paper: National Programme for the Development of Education in the Czech Republic
    (pp. 234-236)
  25. Appendix L: Extract from 2004 Education Act of the Czech Republic
    (pp. 237-240)
  26. Appendix M: Extract of Follow-up of the Action Plan on language learning and linguistic diversity. National Report Template EXP LG 5/2006 EN Annex FIN
    (pp. 241-242)
  27. Appendix N: Extract from Hungarian 1997 Directive Concerning the Education for National Minorities, 32/1997 (5.XI.)
    (pp. 243-245)
  28. Appendix O: Extract from the Hungarian National Core Curriculum 2007
    (pp. 246-252)
  29. Appendix P: Extract from Hungarian Follow-up of the Action Plan on language learning and linguistic diversity. National Report Template EXP LG 5/2006 EN Annex FIN [official translation]
    (pp. 253-254)
  30. References
    (pp. 255-272)
  31. Index
    (pp. 273-292)