[lg policy] Language Barriers: The Politics of Identity in Ukraine, China and Canada

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 7 15:44:57 UTC 2014

Language Barriers: The Politics of Identity in Ukraine, China and Canada

The interaction between language and national identity is rendered
particularly complicated, and visible, when a country’s borders contain
more than one native tongue. In such cases, language policy can be
determinant in managing, or exacerbating, political tensions among a
country’s various language groups. Nicolai Petro examines the deep-seated
and unresolved concerns at the heart of Ukraine’s language divide, and the
history behind them. Arienne Dwyer argues that China’s language policy, in
particular the triumph of Mandarin, has become a vehicle of choice for
projecting global soft power. And Jack Jedwab explains why four decades of
efforts toward bilingualism have not significantly reduced Canada’s
language gap.

  Articles in this feature Ukraine’s Ongoing Struggle With Its Russian
By Nicolai N. Petro<http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/authors/1116/nicolai-n-petro>,
May 6, 2014, Feature <http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/features/list>

In Ukraine, language politics is so contentious that politicians will go to
great lengths to deny that the issue even exists. Ukrainian politicians
often say that the issue only comes up during elections, but the same
politicians have also come to blows in parliament over the issue. To
appreciate the deep-seated and unresolved concerns that lie at the heart of
the language issue, we need to look at who actually uses which language,
and the cultural and political agendas behind one’s choice of
language. more<http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/13758/ukraine-s-ongoing-struggle-with-its-russian-identity>
China’s Language Policy Goes
By Arienne M. Dwyer<http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/authors/1117/arienne-m-dwyer>,
May 6, 2014, Feature <http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/features/list>

Twenty years ago, the Chinese language was seen by most outside of China
and Taiwan as obscure, possibly nearly unlearnable. Nowadays, however,
Mandarin Chinese language instruction worldwide is experiencing huge
growth. Meanwhile, Mandarin has also eclipsed all other varieties of
Chinese as the premier language of China, even as ethnic-based flare-ups
continue to persist in regions like Tibet and Xinjiang. In all of these
cases, language identity and Chinese language policy is key to
understanding events.
Canada’s Enduring Language
By Jack Jedwab <http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/authors/1118/jack-jedwab>,
May 6, 2014, Feature <http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/features/list>
In the early 1960s, Canada’s Royal Commission on Bilingualism and
Biculturalism warned that relations between English and French Canadians
had so seriously deteriorated that their will to live together was in
jeopardy. Underlying these concerns were fears about the future of the
French language in the country. Some four decades following the
introduction of Canda's policy of official languages, however, it would be
difficult to contend there has been meaningful growth in the degree of

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