[lg policy] Re: The prehistory of language policy
D.Sayers at SWANSEA.AC.UK
Fri Aug 16 11:30:29 UTC 2013
Aha! King Alfred's literacy and translation policy is described in a recently aired
If that link doesn't take you to the right place, then just scroll to 43m 35s. It's
discussed from there to the end of the programme.
Dr. Dave Sayers
Honorary Research Fellow, Arts & Humanities, Swansea University, UK
Visiting Lecturer (2013-14), Dept English, University of Turku, Finland
dave.sayers at cantab.net
On 29/07/2013 12:06, Dave Sayers wrote:
> Thanks all for your responses to this. From your responses and my reading around, I
> now have the following list of historical precursors to what we now refer to as
> language policy:
> 1) Tower of Babel (obviously)
> 2) An early example of language testing (!), the battle between the Gileadites and
> the Ephraimites c.1370–1070 BC, after which the Gileadites blocked the Ephraimites’
> route home over the Jordan, and tested each person trying to cross:
> “Whenever Ephraimite fugitives said, 'Let me cross,' the men of Gilead would ask,
> 'Are you an Ephraimite?' If he said, 'No,' they then said, 'Very well, say
> ‘Shibboleth’. If anyone said ‘Sibboleth’ because he could not pronounce it, then they
> would seize him and kill him by the fords of the Jordan."
> Judges 12:5–6
> 3) The centuries-old imperative to memorize Vedic hymns etc. in "pure" Sanskrit
> 4) The control of biblical translation to protect Latin in the Christian bible, which
> spilled over into secular and semi-secular spheres, resulting in the use of Latin in
> European universities long after the Reformation (Latin was needed for admission to
> Cambridge well into C20)
> 5) The Talmud's views for and against use of Greek, and mostly against Aramaic (which
> it nevertheless uses freely!), in favour of Hebrew.
> 6) King Alfred of Wessex’s literacy programme of 878-92 AD, setting up schools, and
> translating from Latin to Old English a series of books he deemed “most necessary for
> all men to know”, as he put it in the preface letter. (In C9, English was already
> widely used for administration.)
> 7) Swedish King Magnus Erikson’s National Law of 1347, establishing Swedish as the
> language of the Swedish kingdom
> 8) France's Ordonnance of Villers-Cotterêts, 1539 (François I). This is the most
> recent one. We're well into the Reformation by this point, and the influence of
> vernacularisation is a factor here.
> I also considered mentioning the tale of The Egyptian Pharaoh Psammetichus, and his
> experiment raising children in isolation to see which 'word' they would come out with
> first, as an indication of which was the first language (and therefore the world's
> oldest people). But this doesn't really seem to bear any hallmarks of language policy
> really. Or does it?
> After all these examples, I move into the Reformation, the formation of language
> academies around Europe, Herderian linguistic nationalism, the French Revolution and
> the modern era of nation-states, that sort of thing.
> Further thoughts are certainly welcome!
> Dr. Dave Sayers
> Honorary Research Fellow, Arts & Humanities, Swansea University, UK
> Visiting Lecturer (2013-14), Dept English, University of Turku, Finland
> dave.sayers at cantab.net
> On 26/07/2013 15:59, Dave Sayers wrote:
>> Hello assembled folks who are not currently on holiday...
>> Can anyone recommend a concise reading covering examples of 'language policy' from
>> ancient times up to the French Revolution? (Or maybe up to the Reformation?) I'm
>> doing an intro lecture for an LPP course I'm designing, with an overview of such
>> historical precursors, and I'm hoping to find a short reading to go with it.
>> There is an excellent historical review of such precursors in France and India
>> provided by our benevolent mailing list overlord Hal Schiffman, in 'Linguistic
>> Culture and Language Policy' -- http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0415184061/. Similarly,
>> the various contributors to 'Language Policy and National Unity',
>> http://goo.gl/0iZ2mj, give some good historical reviews for their respective
>> However, these aren't really framed as a review of the prehistory of language policy
>> as such, more the prehistory of language policies in these particular polities.
>> They're also not really a concise type of summary.
>> Bernard Spolsky's 'Language Policy' http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0521011752 has some
>> mention of historical precursors in various contexts, mostly in ch.2-3, but these are
>> sort of peppered throughout the chapters -- again, a little too dispersed for what
>> I'm after.
>> There are some pertinent points in Vivien Law's 'The History of Linguistics in
>> Europe: From Plato to 1600', e.g. p.155
>> http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=4QOTTpX2NTMC&pg=PA115, but that's more about the
>> study of language, not really language policies.
>> I was hoping for something shorter, ideally a chapter in a textbook about these sorts
>> of historical precursors to what we now call language policy.
>> Any thoughts, folks?
>> Dr. Dave Sayers
>> Honorary Research Fellow, Arts & Humanities, Swansea University, UK
>> Visiting Lecturer (2013-14), Dept English, University of Turku, Finland
>> dave.sayers at cantab.net
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