Language Ideology

Topics: Linguistics, Sociology, Linguistic anthropology Pages: 18 (5279 words) Published: December 1, 2013
-249 Pragmatics 2:3.235 InternationalPragmatics Association

Kathrvn A. Woolard

1. Introduction This special issue of hagmarl'cs derives from a day-long symposium on "l^anguage Ideology: Practice and Theory" held at the annual meeting of the American Anthropology Association in Chicago,November 1991.1 The organizing premise of the symposiumwas that languageideologyis a mediating link between social structuresand forms of talk, if such static imagery for some very dynamic processescan be forgiven. Rather than casting language ideology as an epiphenomenon, a relatively inconsequentialoverlay of secondaryand tertiary responses(Boas 1911; Bloomfield 1944),, symposiumstarted from the proposition that ideology stands in dialectical the relation with, and thus significantlyinfluences,social,discursive, and linguistic practices. As sucha critical link, languageideology merits more concertedanalytic attention than it has thus far been given. In this first attempt to bring form to an area of inquiry, we have adopted a relatively unconstrainedsenseof "languageideology."Alan Rumsey'sdefinition, based on Silverstein (1979),is a useful startingpoint: linguisticideologiesare "sharedbodies of commonsense notions about the nature of languagein the world "(1990: 346). We mean to include cultural conceptionsnot only of languageand languagevariation, but of the nature and purpose of communication, and of communicativebehavior as an enactment of a collective order (Silverstein 1987: l-2). I use the terms "linguistic" and "language"ideology interchangeably,although in the articles that follow one might detect differencesin their uses,perhaps varying with the degree to which the authors focus on formal linguistic structuresor on representationsof a collective order. In order to build toward a general understandingof the cultural variability of language ideology and its role in social and linguistic life, the symposium brought

1 The symposium was organized the three guesteditorsof this issueand sponsored the by by Program Committee of the American AnthropologicalAssociation.We thank Jill Brody, Michele Dominy, and membersof the ProgramCommitteefor enablingus to bring such a large number of participantstogether.This introductorypaper would have been even sketchierwithout the positive influenceof the symposium's contributorsand discussants, I thank them. Thanks also to Paul and Kroskrity and Bambi Schieffelinfor commentsand encouragement. am grateful to the National I Endowmentfor the Humanitiesfor support of my work on language ideology,although all opinions expressed here are my own.


Kathryn A. Woolard

together a spectrum of researchers. Somework in more traditional societies, others in the post-industrialwest; some have focused more on linguistic structure, others on socialprocess. Linguisticanthropologists havesometimes bemoanedthe marginalization of our subdisciplinefrom the larger field, even as languageand discoursehave become central notions across the social sciencesand humanities.There is also a growing unease among some linguistic anthropologistsabout lack of cohesion within the subdiscipline. different senseof problem hascreatedunintendedintellectualdivides, A whether between traditional and complexsocieties, westernand non-western, linguistic and social foci, "macro" and "micro". The topic of languageideology may be one muchneeded bridge between work on languagestructure and languagepolitics, as well as between linguistic and social theory. But more than just a unifying force, we hope that attention to languageideology can be a key to a fresh and productive reformulation of analytic problems.

2. Why ldeolory? The term ideology has been characterizedin a variety of ways,in a confusingtangle of commonsenseand semi-technicalmeanings (Friedrich 1989: 300). If ideology is a muddled and troublesome concept, why choose it as an umbrella under which to gather? A simple(-minded?)...

References: Perspectives on officiat English. Berlin:Moutonde L. (1990) Adams, Karen & DanielT. Brink (eds.) Gruyter.
KnthrynA. Woolard
Bourdieu,Pierre(1982)Cequeparlerveutdire;L 'economie dchanges des linguistiques
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