Monoglot “Standard” in America: Standardization

anguage ideology refers to the situated, partial, and interested character
of conceptions and uses of language. It covers a wide range of
concerns: the differential openness of language structure for metalinguistic
objectification; the ways metalinguistic discourses can mediate social
interests; the “naturalization” of social differences through construals
of language as embodying identity and community. In these and other
ways, “language ideology” is a rubric for dealing with ideas about language
structure and use relative to social contexts.
I sketch here some intellectual trends and empirical issues in linguistic
anthropology for which notions of language ideology have recently become
salient. I discuss the notion first as part of linguistic anthropologists’ responses
to various critiques of received scholarly objectifications of “Language”
and “languages.” Then I sketch its role in the framing of language
use as social practice, engaged in and construed from different perspectives
in different contexts.
“Ideology” has become a central notion in critical studies of scholarly
discourses on language, often ambiguous and conflicted, which have
emerged in broader intellectual and political projects. In this regard it suggests
self-reflexive awareness of the underlying comparability of “folk” and
“expert” conceptions of language, and of the ways that covert interests can
inform both. Both concerns can be read from influential critiques of postEnlightenment
conceptions of “language.”


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