Dissertation: French language policy

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Fri Dec 15 18:42:57 UTC 2006

Forwarded from Linguist-List,

French Language Policy and the Multilingual Challenge, from Maastricht to
an Enlarged Europe: A study of developments from 1992 to 2004 with
particular reference to the case of Gallo

Institution: University of Limerick
Program: PhD in Sociolinguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: John Shaun Nolan

Dissertation Title: French Language Policy and the Multilingual Challenge,
from Maastricht to an Enlarged Europe: A study of developments from 1992
to 2004 with particular reference to the case of Gallo

Dissertation Abstract:

>>From 1992 to 2004, various external and internal pressures forced the
French government, state and people to reflect on and debate the position
held by the French language and regional languages in their society, as
well as the way that they see themselves from a politico-linguistic
perspective. Whilst this debate did not produce any finality, there is a
state-level realpolitik which steadily defined itself during this period.
In both parameter years, events occurred in the international context
which had important consequences for France's language policy. In 1992,
the acceptance of the Maastricht treaty had as a consequence the insertion
into the Constitution, for the first time, of explicit reference to French
as the official language of the Republic.

And in 2004, the European Union integrated ten new eastern European
members which, even before coming about, made its impact felt from a
politico-linguistic point of view at all levels of France's language
policy. The conflicts between opposing forces in the French language
policy debate led to covert contradictions between France's external and
internal language policy: where the first essentially proposed
plurilingualism in defence of diversity and the latter diversity in
defence of monolingualism. These contradictory covert political practices
were based on conflicting strategies that were inter-related and were
ultimately aimed at maintaining and promoting the position of French in
France and in the world. The aim of this thesis is to examine the French
state's reaction to the changing context in relation to language diversity
in the national and international arenas and to analyse how this is
reflected in the regions of France.

With this objective in mind, Chapters 1 and 2 of this thesis explain its
background, its structure, and lay its methodological foundation by
analysing developments in approach to language policy studies and
examining the conceptualisation of language's place in identity
structures. From this basis, Chapters 3 and 4 utilise the most recent
theoretical approaches to language policy studies (e.g. Schiffman 1996;
Spolsky 2004; Shohamy 2006) to analyse France's language policy in the
international and national arenas from 1992 to 2004 in the context of an
historical examination of the development of language attitudes and
ideology in France.

Chapter 5 takes this study of language attitudes and ideology from the
national level to the regional level through a case study of language
policy in practice in the region of Upper-Brittany focussing on attitudes
toward its endogenous Gallo language variety. This case study, carried out
from November 2003 to September 2004, is based on fieldwork and has
produced a significant amount of original data on the synthesis between
language policy, language attitudes and identity strategies which proves a
valuable contribution to scholarship in language policy studies.

Chapter 6 concludes this thesis with an appraisal of the state of language
policy in France at the close of the Twentieth Century and during the
opening years of the Twenty-First.


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