Dissertation: The Politics of Language in Quebec: Language Policy and Language Ideologies in a Pluriethnic Society

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Wed May 23 16:43:06 UTC 2007

The Politics of Language in Quebec:  Language Policy and Language
Ideologies in a Pluriethnic Society

Institution: Georgetown University Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed Degree Date: 2007

Author: Astrid Alkistis Fleischer

Dissertation Title: The Politics of Language in Quebec: Language Policy
and Language Ideologies in a Pluriethnic Society
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Dissertation Director: Ralph W. Fasold Monica Heller

The language question has been a major topic of debate in Quebec since the
1960s. This study examines the politics of language in light of the
increasing diversity of Quebec society, focussing on the state discourses
on language policy and planning during the last two terms of the Parti
qubcois (PQ) government (September 1994 - April 2003) and the reactions
these discourses have produced. Based on an integrated analysis of
government documents and archival data, the study explores the connection
between language policy, language ideologies, and broader sociopolitical
developments in Quebec, particularly in the pluriethnic Montreal
metropolitan region.

The Quebec state tried to institute a discursive shift from an ethnic to a
civic nationalism after the 1995 referendum on sovereignty. This civic
nationalism no longer defines itself as a French-Canadian nationalism, but
as a nationalism for all Quebecers. The Quebec state managed to institute
this discursive shift but under conditions of contestation. This thesis
explores the Quebec state's struggles with the ideological legitimacy of
its language policy caught between the ethnolinguistic nationalism that
was the original foundation for legitimacy of the state and its policies
and the contradictions this has in a state that is trying to be open,
inclusive, and democratic. Some particularly revealing moments when this
tension becomes evident are examined. The thesis is, then, about the
struggles, the contradictions between ethnolinguistic minority nationalism
and inclusive democracy in a pluriethnic society.

The study helps us understand the role played by language ideologies in
more general sociopolitical developments, conflicts, and struggles. In
Quebec, the debates about language are clearly political and are, in
essence, debates about identity and the nation. Language policy and
planning have to be seen as primarily political and ideological endeavors.
Language policy is a dynamic and dialogic process; it evolves together
with the state, civil society, and society at large. Various social and
political actors not only have participated in the language ideological
debates, but also have contributed to the evolution of Quebec language
policy and planning during the period in question.


N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal.


More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list