[lg policy] Language policies of world militaries?

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Thu Feb 19 16:23:00 UTC 2015


Dear Don,

Regarding your question about language policies in military units, I did a
quick googlesearch for India, and came up with the following:


Language Policy and Linguistic Minorities in India  ... By Thomas Benedikter

What he says in the book is that the Indian military uses a simplified
version
of Hindi and Urdu, with some English mixed in.  I think this is probably a
continuation of what the policy was under the British.

Another example is that of Czarist Russia, where the language policy of the
military was Russian only, and I think this also continued to be the case in
the Soviet period, and of course today as well.

HS

On Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 12:04 PM, <dzo at bisharat.net> wrote:

> Is anyone aware of any compilation of information on language policies of
> militaries of the world? Particularly interested in multilingual countries
> in general, and in Africa, but broader information is always useful for
> comparisons.
>
> One might assume that militaries follow the official language policies of
> their respective states, but is this always so? One would also assume that
> some standard language policy would be necessary to avoid the babel effect
> at inopportune moments.
>
> However, in many countries, language skills down the ranks may vary. So
> are there cases where more than one language is officially used? De facto
> usage of other languages that is tolerated to facilitate communication in
> special circumstances, or training in order to facilitate optimal learning?
> Problems with diverse language use within militaries (case studies)?
>
> For example, when in Uganda a few years ago I heard specifically that only
> English and Swahili (both official in the country) were permitted in their
> armed forces (UPDF) and on their military facilities. On the other hand, US
> Army language policy is framed with a focus on operations in this way:
>
> "English is the operational language of the Army. Soldiers must maintain
> sufficient proficiency in English to perform their military duties. Their
> operational communications must be understood by everyone who has an
> official need to know their content, and, therefore, must normally be in
> English. However, commanders may not require Soldiers to use English unless
> such use is clearly necessary and proper for the performance of military
> functions. Accordingly, commanders may not require the use of English for
> personal communications that are unrelated to military functions."
> US Army Regulation 600–20 (2014) "Army Command Policy"
> http://www.apd.army.mil/pdffiles/r600_20.pdf
>
> Thanks in advance for any info.
>
> Don Osborn
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-- 
=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+

 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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