Language Ideologies: Practice and Theory.

Concern for the ways social interests are inscribed in linguistic descriptions
has also been stimulated by studies of Western societies, like Pierre
Bourdieu’s sociological account of academic institutions in France. He developed
an influential critique of ambiguously descriptive “models of” and
prescriptive “models for” the French language. He also assimilated language
to a broad notion of “symbolic capital” in ways that resonate with assumptions
and findings of variationist sociolinguistics. But it has been cogently
questioned on empirical and theoretical grounds by anthropological linguists
working in societies as close to France as Spanish Catalonia.
Increased interest in nationalism has similarly led linguistic anthropologists
to study the rise and ideological grounds of secular, print-mediated
national languages. In otherwise very different accounts, Ernest Gellner and
Benedict Anderson have foregrounded the origins and effects of hegemonically
standard languages. These comparative and theoretical issues have
been recently recast within fine-grained work on language-linked enactments
and conceptions of national and subnational identities (ethnic, class,
gender, etc.).
Language ideology is relevant in these and other empirical studies that
link verbal particulars to institutional contexts and interactional processes.
In this regard, ideology stands in useful contrast to framings of talk as social
practice to deal with situated interactional perspectives and social values,
which can tacitly vary and shift between contexts and communities. This is
a particularly important issue in scenes of social and linguistic contact, conflict,
and change, where unrecognized and misrecognized differences in
modes of interactional engagement arise.
Bilingualism and code-switching, language shift and language death, interference
and borrowing, are all phenomena arising at such points of sodolinguistic
encounter, and all require the social framing of patterned verbal
particulars. Thought of as plural, often tacit, and sometimes conflictual, ideologically
grounded perceptions of language use can be related to broader
constellations of institutional forces, historical processes, and interests.
Framed in these multiple ways, talk can be seen as a point of convergence
between the immediacies of social


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