Language rights

Promoting civic multilingualism 1

Authored by: Stephen May

The Routledge Handbook of Multilingualism

Print publication date:  May  2012
Online publication date:  May  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415496476
eBook ISBN: 9780203154427
Adobe ISBN: 9781136578144


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This chapter explores the development of language rights (LR) as a nascent academic paradigm, along with its key theoretical and contextual concerns. The growing presence of LR in the disciplines of sociolinguistics, the sociology of language and language policy can be attributed to four distinct, albeit closely inter-related, academic movements. All these movements (discussed further below) adopt the usual distinction between so-called minority and majority languages — a distinction that is based not on numerical size but on clearly observable differences among language varieties in relation to power, status and entitlement — while also paying particular attention to the rights of minority language speakers.

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