[lg policy] Theis: "Towards a More Flexible Language Policy: A Comparative Analysis of Language Policy Design in Denmark and Estonia"

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sat Nov 17 15:54:12 UTC 2012

Maarja Siiner "Towards a More Flexible Language Policy: A Comparative
Analysis of Language Policy Design in Denmark and Estonia"

Supervisor: prof Triin Vihalemm (Tartu Ülikool)
Opponent: dr Gabrielle Hogan-Brun (Bristoli Ülikool ja Baseli Ülikool)

Answering the question of whether and how language policies can
succeed also requires a critical reconsideration of what language
policy is about in terms of goals stated and infrastructure developed.
Rather than asking how the existing policy quarantees survival of a
language norm, the question should be whether and how the policy
address language users' needs, ensuring social justice, economical
well-being and participation in democratic processes in the society
for all it's members. Without language users' active choice to use a
language, there is no (future for a) language. For that purpose an
extended and interdisciplinary concept of language policy is offered
that goes beyond sociolinguistics and the ethnography of language,
reaching out into political and social science, with a focus on
structure and agency and a concern for the distribution of resources
to offer best possible solutions for language users' needs. This
apporach outlines language policy as a dynamic and multilayered
process, passing through circles of policy genesis, implementation,
(re)creation and (re)appropriation, and being thus constantly in the
making, involving different agents on different societal levels. The
central point of the thesis is that a certain amount of flexibility in
language policy design is required to meet language users' changing
needs in different settings and on different stages of their life. The
flexibility of language policy design means that different agents on
different interstate, state, local municipality and institutional
level should be involved to quarantee successful identification and
solving of local and contextual language problems. Key points of the
thesis are highlighted through contrasting examples of Estonia's overt
(or thick) and Denmark's covert (or thin) language policy design.
Using an analytical paradigm of allocatively and authoritatively
distributed resources, and moving from the macro level in legislation
to the meso and micro levels of language activity, the thesis
demonstrates how 'free spaces' can open up, revealing potential for
bottom-up agency to solve language problems in the allocative model,
whereas the authoritative model (as in Estonia) can lead to 'holes'
through its insufficient distribution of resources to support
succesful linguistic integration, since the majority of resources are
used on control.


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