[lg policy] bibitem: Colonialism and problems of language policy: formulation of a colonial language policy in Sri Lanka

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 1 15:30:50 UTC 2011

Colonialism and problems of language policy: formulation of a colonial
language policy in Sri Lanka
Sandagomi Coperehewa


The problems of language policy in modern Sri Lanka have their roots
in the nineteenth century. The question of language came to the fore
during the early nineteenth century when British administrators and
missionaries debated what kind of language education policy should be
introduced. The first official pronouncement relating to language
policy in colonial Sri Lanka is to be found in the Colebrooke report
on the Administration of the Government of Ceylon (1832), which made
explicit the privileged position of English in the country. Linguistic
imperialism was another consequence of colonial policy, and colonial
ideologies were reflected in language education policies. However,
there was no total agreement among the missionaries and colonial
officials on policies relating to language-in-education and they
continued to hold conflicting views. It is clear that the dual
discourses of Orientalism (policies in favour of education in local
languages) and Anglicism (policies in favour of education in English)
continued to coexist alongside, and served the interests of the
British colonial agenda. The introduction of English education in the
nineteenth century had a profound long-term impact on the country’s
language policies and practices. This discussion of colonial language
policies and practices reveals the historical origins of the language
question in Sri Lanka and points to the general embeddedness of
linguistic developments in colonial history.

Keywords: Colonialism; Colonial Sri Lanka; Language policy; Education;
Colebrooke; Cameron

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4038/sljass.v1.i1.3814


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