Language in the Judicial Process

Language Legislation and Linguistic Rights: An International Conference

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, March 21-23, 1996


Dennis E. Baron, English (

Eyamba Bokamba, Division of English as an International Language

C. C. Cheng, Language Learning Laboratory

Braj B. Kachru, Linguistics

Douglas A. Kibbee, French (

Speakers from around the world addressed such linguistic issues as language and culture, language and power, and bilingualism, also the linguistic aspects of social issues such as community vs. individual rights, cultural survival, and free trade. Publication of the proceedings is pending.


Chris Andre, Duke University:
Toward an Anglo-Saxon Confederation: Arthur Balfour, Woodrow Wilson and the Ideological Imperatives for an English-Language World-State[Abstract not available at press time]

Dominique Arel, Wesleyan University:
Language Trends in Independent Ukraine: Towards the Assimilation of Russian-Speakers

One-fourth of the population of Ukraine is Russian, one-third claims Russian as a mother tongue, and recent surveys show that almost one-half use Russian as their language of convenience (first language). The linguistic communities are territorially polarized, with three of four Ukrainian-speakers living in the West and three of four Russian-speakers living in the East. This polarization is unstable since most Russian-speakers in the East are ethnic Ukrainians and Ukrainian national activists expect them to “readopt” Ukrainian as a language of identity through the implementation of a unilingual state policy, while Russophones, irrespective of ethnicity, advocate equal status for the Russian language in Ukraine. What are the prospects for a voluntary assimilation of Russophones in the long term, as opposed to a politically conflictual strengthening of their linguistic identity? Ethnographic fieldwork in the predominantly Russian-speaking capital Kyiv suggests a willingness among Russophones to assimilate inter-generationally. This could induce Eastern Russophones to assimilate, or deepen the territorial polarization of Ukraine along linguistic lines.

Richard W. Bailey, The University of Michigan:
Majority Language, Minority Misery: The Case of Sri Lanka

Language legislation generally takes two forms, one aimed at equality and interdependence between or among languages, the other presuming subordination and assimilation. In the Helsinki Accords of 1975, the first of these two was set forth as a goal, but as the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe has evolved, the second emerged as the dominant impulse, despite predictable conflict in which subordinate language cultures struggle, often violently, for survival. Since 1795, when the British supplanted the Dutch in Sri Lanka, a series of constitutional changes has shifted emphasis back and forth between the two fundamental policies. At this time, the Sri Lankan parliament is considering yet another change in national language. How these changes arose in their cultural context is the subject of this paper.

Norine Berenz, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley, & the National Foreign Language Center, Johns Hopkins University:
The case for Brazilian Sign Language: A Deaf community finds its voice.

Several years of fieldwork in Brazil connecting data for a study treating an aspect of the grammar of Brazilian Sign Language (Lingua de Sinais Brasileira: LASB) brought me into contact with the Brazilian Deaf community at a time when a consciousness of being a minority language and cultural group within the larger Brazilian society was just beginning to emerge. My participation in a research group developing the first teaching materials for LSB, comprised of deaf and hearing Brazilians, provided me access and credibility as well as a close-up view of the people and events that shape the process aimed at gaining official recognition for LSB as a medium of instruction in deaf schools and as a language supported by the government as regards the provision of interpreting services and the like.

Our research group is the only one of its kind funded by the Brazilian Ministry of Education. The materials we produce are distributed throughout much of Brazil by the National Federation for the Education and Integration of the Deaf (FENEIS), the only deaf advocacy group operating on a national scale. FENEIS has taken a leading role in the efforts for official status for LSB, although the initial impetus for political action came from a theater group, Companhia de Surdos of Rio de Janeiro. I was present for and participated in the early planning stages of a street march and demonstration organized by the theater group. The march was held in September 1994 and drew a crowd of more than 1,000 deaf and hearing, including representatives of public and private schools which serve deaf children. Groups of deaf workers marched under banners naming their employers and proclaiming their support for official recognition of LSB. Representatives of various political parties also attended and gave their support.

In this paper, I present the socio-historical context in which the language and community developed, examine the process of politicization of the language issues, and trace the continuing struggle to the present. I show that a crucial shift is a change in the concept of the “model deaf person” from a Portuguese-proficient deaf person to an LSB-proficient deaf person. I do so through participant-observation and through ethnographic interviews with the deaf and hearing people involved. I examine the areas of conflict between the deaf and the hearing, as well as among members of each group, and the areas of consensus.

Eyamba G. Bokamba, Department of Linguistics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
The politics of language planning in Africa: Critical choices for the 21st century

This paper provides an overview of the language policies in Sub-Saharan African states outside of the Republic of South Africa and highlights their socio-political underpinnings in an attempt to characterize their failure and draw lessons from them. It is argues here both from first and second language acquisition perspectives that the current African language policies cannot constitute a basis for future cultural, economic, educational, and political developments; they represent, instead, prescriptions for stagnation and continued under-developments of various sorts that will threaten, as Breton (1991) has argued, the very existence of African cultures and society on a scale analogous to the American Indian situation. The paper concludes with a discussion that addresses language planning issues in multilingual African societies from a realistic perspective that is consistent with self-development and self-reliance. It is hoped that this critical analysis will be a contribution to the on-going debate on the effort to articulate a realistic language policy for South Africa.

Louis-Jean Calvet, Universite de Paris:
French Language Policy and Francophonie

[Abstract not available at press time]

James Crawford, Independent Scholar:
Anatomy of the English-Only Movement: Social and Ideological Sources of Language Restrictionism in the United States

[Abstract not available at press time]

Douglas Kibbee, Department of French, University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign:
Language Legislation: Legal and Linguistic Perspectives

Laws around the world relate to many aspects of language use, including education, criminal and civil justice, official vocabulary, immigration and naturalization, the division of power in the state, voting rights (just to name a few). More than half of the world’s countries declare an official language in their constitutions, and many more specify constitutional guarantees relating to language use. In addition to these constitutional declarations, policies on language use and language rights are elaborated in statutes, guidelines and through case law. Often these decisions are based on principles that are linguistically questionable, at best. Legal practitioners and scholars have shown very little interest in what linguists might offer, and have often been disappointed when they have made the effort. A sense of mutual distrust and frustration marks the interactions of the two domains. After an introduction to the range of intersection between linguistic and legal issues, I shall discuss some of the legal problems raised by aspects of language, and some of the linguistic issues raised by aspects of the law.

Miklos Kontra, Linguistics Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences:
Language Rights Arguments in Central Europe and the US: How Similar Are They?

The English Only and English Plus movements offer striking examples which seem to have important historical parallels to the current Central European scene. For instance, it has been argued that

  1. Immigrants to America refuse to learn Englishindigenous Hungarians are so haughty they don’t even learn proper Slovak/Romanian etc.
  2. Spanish speakers use their greater reproductive powers to seize political control in the US.Gypsies in Hungary have greater reproductive powers and are genetically programmed for crime
  3. California’s bilingual education law is an obstacle to English acquisitionEducation in Hungarian deprives citizens of Romania from full participation in Romanian society
  4. Linguistic diversity inevitably leads to political disunity (a claim made by English Only advocates)Some Slavic, Romanian and Serbian politicians claim that language rights and cultural autonomy for Hungarian minorities lead to territorial separation

The current East-Central European turmoil is to a great extent due to ethnic and linguistic division which blatantly defy the idea of nation states. Western democracies such as the United States are often used and abuse as good or bad examples quoted in the Central European political discourse. On the basis of printed books (e.g. Berenyi 1994, Zalabia 1995), media reports and coresearchers’ first-hand experience in Hungary’s neighboring countries, I will analyze the similarities and differences between the arguments used for and against linguistic human rights in Central Europe and the United States.


Crawford, James. 1992. Hold Your Tongue: Bilingualism and the Politics of “English Only”. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley.

Berenyi, Jozsef. 1994. Nyelvorszaglas: A szlovakiai nyelvtorneny tortenelmi es tarsadalmi okai [Language Ruling: The historical and social causes of the Slovak official language law]. Pozsony: Forum Alapitvany. Zalabai, Zsigmond (ed.). Mit er a nyelvunk, ha magyar? A “tablahaboru” es a “nevhaboru” szlovakiai magyar sajtodokumentumaibol 1990-1994 [What is our language worth if it is Hungarian? A selection of the documents concerning the “place-name war” and “personal-name war” in the Hungarian press in Solvakia]. Pozsony: Kalligram Konyvkiado.

Norman Labrie, Head, Centre for Franco-Ontarian Studies, The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education:
The role of the French language in maintaining linguistic diversity in North America: some glottopolitical considerations

There is no doubt that the French language has a key role to play in maintaining North America’s linguistic diversity. In view of the current socioeconomic changes, together with a globalization of the economy which has come about particularly through NAFTA and has given rise to a process of homogenization, the question of how the French language is to be maintained needs to be addressed. In dealing with this issue, this paper will focus on several glottopolitical considerations, particularly the sociolinguistic background, the prevalent linguistic ideologies and language policies (Labrie, 1995).

Glottopolitics: The study of language legislation from a purely legal perspective gives an incomplete picture of the relationship between linguistics and politics within the state or within any given societies. Sociolinguistics therefore favours an interdisciplinary approach which takes into account a whole range of factor including political, social and linguistic elements. Such an approach may be termed “glottopolitical” (Geuspin and Marcellesi, 1986). The study of linguistic relations in North America requires firstly a profile of the sociolinguistic background. Subsequently, a comprehensive assessment needs to be made of the prevailing ideologies concerning linguistic relations and specific language policies which are being developed in different political bodies.

The Sociolinguistic Background: North America has some 360 million citizens (27 million in Canada, 250 million in the United States and 85 million in Mexico), the majority of whom, i.e. approximately 250 million, are English-speaking. About 100 million North Americans are Spanish- speaking and 7 million French-speaking. The allophone population is important because 3.5 million Canadians have as their mother tongue a language other than English or French, and in the United States one out of seven people speaks a language other than English at home. Furthermore, 56 indigenous languages are spoken in Mexico by 7.9% of the population, 53 are spoken in Canada by less than 1% of the Canadian populations and some 200 indigenous languages are spoken in Mexico by 7.9% of the population, 53 are spoken in Canada by less than 1% of the Canadian population and some 200 indigenous languages are spoken in the United States by fewer than one million Americans.

The situation in North America therefore favours the spread of English in particular as a lingua franca because of the existence of a multilingual area where heads the field, both in terms of how widely it is used and in terms of its prestige.

Prevailing ideologies and language policies: Language planning exists in one form or another in each of the three member countries of NAFTA. There are two sides to this: language policy and minority rights. The ideologies underlying language policies in the three countries and in their federal states are firmly rooted and extremely varied. These ideologies range from the linguistic duality in Canada and the establishment of English monolingualism in the United States using a laissez-faire policy to the promotion of indigenousness in Mexico.

Insofar as language policy is concerned, there is an ongoing process of recognizing French as a minority language in Canada which since the 1960s has taken legislative and constitutional paths. In the United States there has been a political battle aimed at establishing English as the official language of the detriment of minority languages, a battle which has seen results in 17 states which resurfaces regularly at the federal level. Finally, in Mexico, there has been a de facto recognition of Spanish as the official language.

This brief analysis of the sociolinguistic background in North America and of the ideologies and language policies in the three member countries in NAFTA makes it clear that there are a number of obstacles which stand in the way of the formulation of a common language policy in North America: an extremely diverse and complex sociolinguistic background including languages of varying status (“official” languages, heritage languages and indigenous languages); ideological differences which are difficult to reconcile between the countries or states concerned; language policies developed at the federal level or at the level of the federal states which in their conception and tradition may differ greatly from one country to another or from one state to another.

The role of the French language in maintaining linguistic diversity in North America: These glottopolitical factors would seem to indicate that the maintenance of the French language in North America depends on the maintenance of linguistic diversity. In this respect, in the face of the spread of English as the lingua franca, a common objective that could be pursued and would benefit everyone is the maintenance of linguistic diversity. The long-term strategies which could be developed to meet this objective should aim at promoting multilingualism, multilateral cooperation and the development of a global conception of the linguistic realities in North America (Labrie, forthcoming).

Patricia MacGregor-Mendoza, Department of Languages and Linguistics, New Mexico State University:
The Criminalization of Spanish in the United States

While the United States is a political entity where more than 31.8 million speakers of languages other than English reside (Famighetti 1995), the nation has a history of harboring negative views toward non-English languages. Trueba (1989) has noted that languages other than English have been seen at the very least as an impediment to social unity and at the very most as a threat to national security. The political repercussions of this adverse sentiment have fallen most heavily upon the shoulders of the U.S. Hispanic population. Individuals of this diverse ethnic category not only represent the largest linguistic minority and the one most resistant to language shift (e.g. Lopez 1982, Sole 1990), they also comprise one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population (Wright 1993).

History has recorded the efforts made to suppress the public use of Spanish. States in the Southwest overtly excluded Spanish speakers from political participation on the basis of language alone (e.g. Kloss 1977, McClymer 1982). In southwestern elementary schools attempts were made to eliminate Spanish by inflicting severe verbal and physical punishments upon children who were caught using Spanish in classrooms and on playgrounds (e.g. Kloss 1977, Cummins 1991). More recently, further attempts to restrict the public use of Spanish have come under the guise of the English Only Movement and California’s Proposition 187. The debate took and abrupt leap into the arena of private language use in August of 1995 when a judge in Amarillo, Texas ordered a bilingual Mexican mother to stop speaking to her 5-year-old daughter in Spanish, claiming that to do so constituted child abuse (“Judge” 1995).

The present paper will trace the nation’s history of negative attitudes toward bilingualism in general and toward the Spanish language in particular. Emphasis will be placed upon the legal and political actions reflective of and spawned from these attitudes.

Works Cited:
Cummins, J. (1991). “The politics of paranoia: Reflections on the bilingual education debate”. In O. Garcia (Ed.) Bilingual Education: Focusschrift in honor of Joshua A. Fishman on the occasion of his 65th birthday. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Famighette, R. (Ed.) (1995) The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1995. Mahway, NJ: Funk & Wagnalls.

Judge orders mom: Speak English at home. (1995, August 29). The Las Cruces Sun News, p. A-1.

Kloss, H. (1977). The American bilingual tradition. Rowley, Mass: Newbury House Publishers.

Lopez, D. E. (1982). Language maintenance and shift in the United States today: the basic patterns and their social implications (Vol. III: Hispanics and Portuguese). Los Alamitos, California: National Center for Bilingual Research.

McClymer, J. F. 1982). The Americanization movement and the education of the foreign-born adult, 1914-1925. In B. J. Weiss (Ed.) American education and the European immigrant. 1840-1940, (pp. 90-110). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Sole, Y. (1990). “Bilingualism: Stable or Transitional? The case of Spanish in the United States.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 84, 35-80.

Trueba, H. T. (1989). Raising silent voices. Educating the linguistic minorities for the 21st century. Rowley, Mass: Newbury House Publishers.

Wright, J. W. (Ed.) (1993). The universal almanac 1993. Kansas City: Andrew and McMeel.

Yves Marek, Ministere de la Justice, France:
The Philosophy of the French Language Legislation: Internal and International Aspects

[Abstract not available at press time]

Kahombo Mateene, Organization for African Unity:
The OAU Resolutions of Language and the State of Their Implementation

[Abstract not available at press time]

Ruth Morris, Interpretation and Translation Department, Bar-Ilan University, Israel:
Interpreting and the Legal Process

The contemporary English legal system has evolved out of a mixed linguistic background. Its ancestors were two special legal variants of French and Latin. For many centuries it was vehemently maintained that the law could not be administered in English. The common man was thus linguistically deprived of any understanding of what was going on in a court of law.

In 1731, popular pressure finally overrode the lawyers’ objections. Despite the lawyers; gloomy predictions, English – albeit in a form still bearing many traces of its early multilingual antecedents – became firmly entrenched as the language of the law. At the same time, however, attitudes to non-English speakers became markedly intolerant and suspicious. Any concept of linguistic diversity became anathema to the legal profession.

England, the country which centuries before had accepted mixed language juries, reached a point where in 1916 a Chinese man could be found guilty of murder without understanding the English-language evidence against him (R v Lee Kun). In the four decades since this case, the principle to which it gave rise – that evidence must be interpreted, regardless of whether or not there is a defence lawyer – has received some recognition in various English-speaking legal systems.

However, because of the English legal authorities’ failure to appreciate the vital issue of quality in interpreting, the calibre of the linguistic link provided often left much to be desired. Thus in 1981 a Pakistani woman in Birmingham. England was sentenced to life imprisonment after appearing in court with a so-called interpreted whom she could not understand. In 1985 the Court of Appeal ruled that the original trial had been invalid (R. v. Iqbal Begum).

The legal principle has been acknowledged, but legal professionals’ understanding and attitudes have been such that there has been no insistence on the application have been such that there has been no insistence on the application of the principle. The result is that non-English speaking individuals who become involved in the legal process are frequently at a disadvantage, for linguistic reasons which could be palliated by the provision of competent interpreting, as well as for other reasons which are more difficult to offset.

This paper contends that the authorities’ laissez-faire attitude reflects the linguistic imperialism (Phillipson 1992) prevalent among the legal profession in England, as well as wide circles of contemporary English society. A study of contemporary and historical attitudes in England shows that the letter of the law is not enough to assure linguistic equality before the law. In contrast, the progress achieved in the language sphere in today’s multicultural Australia indicates what can be done in the wake of policy decisions taken on the highest level if the legal and other authorities are genuinely concerned about equity.


Philipson, Robert (1992) Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Case references

R. v. Iqbal Begum (1991) 98 Cr. App. R. 96

R. v Lee Kun (1916) 11 Cr. App. R. 293

Dr. Michel Nguessan, Caterpillar Inc.:
Language and Human Rights in Africa

Important legal documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (by the United Nations) and the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights (by the Organization of African Unity) recognize and guarantee, at least in theory, some rights to African peoples. The question in this paper is whether people can really enjoy their rights in countries where official languages–foreign languages unknown to the vast majority–are spoken by less than 20% of the population, excluding de facto 80% from effective participation in any official business and communication, The first part of the study deals with the relationships between language, law and human rights. The following parts discuss peoples’ rights in the fields of politics, information, communication, education, literacy, and culture. The conclusion points out that the current linguistic situation not only prevents the people from enjoying the rights that they have in theory, but it also hinders democracy and development.

Geoffrey Nunberg, Xerox/PARC & Stanford University:
Language and American Identity

[Abstract not available at press time]

Gerald Paquette, Gouvernement du Quebec:
The Quebec Charter of the French Language: 20 Years After

[Abstract not available at press time]

Carsten Quell, University of Toronto:
Requirements, Dynamics and Realities of Language use in the EU: A Case study of the European Commission

The European Union currently consists of fifteen member states and recognizes eleven of their languages as the official and working languages of the Union. According to official regulation, these languages are all equal. In reality, however, very few of them are actually used for communication in the EU’s offices in Brussels. How did the current linguistic state come about and what will be the future in light of the preponderance of a few languages, if not increasingly of only one language? These questions will be addressed in the following manner.

A framework for language planning will be presented in order to point out the relevant factors in language contact at the Commission. The three main players that can be shown to exert considerable influence on language choice are:

a) Legal authorities, i.e. institutions such as the Council or the Commission which have a legal prerogative in determining language use;

b) Influentials, i.e. institutions such as national governments and pressure groups which wish to influence language use in the Commission, but cannot legally determine it;

c) Individuals involved in actual language contact, i.e. the staff of the Commission administration whose linguistic behavior is the target of language planning.

It is the last group which is considered to be most important, from an empirical point of view, as it is their language choice in the workplace which finally decides which languages are the real working languages of the Commission.

Language policy within all major EU institutions (i.e. the Commission, Council, Parliament, and Court of Justice) has evolved considerably over the past forty years and a brief review of its development will be given. As far as the Commission goes, this review will lead to the somewhat surprising conclusions that while all other institutions have adopted rules of procedure which specifically deal with the languages to be used institution-internally, the Commission’s rules of procedure include no provision on language use. The French and German governments in particular have used this lack of clarity recently to try and influence the language distribution in the European administration by supporting a more widespread use of their languages.

The main part of the paper focuses on a survey of language use inside the European Commission. I conducted the survey with the help of a questionnaire among trainees in the spring of 1993 and again in the summer of 1995. The more than 300 trainees who participated in the survey offer an excellent window on the linguistic reality as they constitute a well-defined group of recent university graduates from all member states of the EU who were assigned to all Commission departments. The results of the survey are discussed in terms of the overall distribution of language use as well as language use result broken down by different nationalities and locations in the Commission. They show a clear preference among some nationalities and locations for either English or French, and reveal to what extent native speakers of languages other than English or French use their languages. These results are then considered more closely by cross tabulation with variables such as mother tongue, educational background and second language knowledge. Some surprising results emerge: Germans are twice as likely to support an all-English solution as native English speakers, law graduates are twice as likely to support the three-language-solution as economics graduates are, and highly proficient speakers of a foreign language tend to support that language more as a working language than native speakers of the language.

In the conclusion these results are related to the language planning framework introduced at the beginning and it is shown that anyone trying to influence or research language contact in the Commission must take account of the complex make-up of the Commission staff with reference to its preferences as far as language policy is concerned.

Thomas Ricento, The University of Texas at San Antonio:
What happens after English is declared the official language of the U.S.?

The period 1980 to 1995 in the U.S. shares many similarities with the period 1910 to 1925. In the earlier period, American identity was thought by many to be under siege; laws were passed to restrict the numbers and countries of origins of immigrants; schools were ‘encouraged’ to teach American civics and cultural values to immigrants, both children and adults; the ‘American Plan’ of anti-unionism was promoted (McClymer, 1982); and the use of non-English languages in schools or in public media was seen as being un-American. Fifty-five years later, the election of Ronald Reagan as President of the U.S. signaled the beginning of another ‘Americanization’ era which has now matured in the mid-19909s into an unabashedly anti-immigrant, crypto-racist, reaffirmation exercise by a once again insecure native population.

One of the legacies of the earlier period was the birth of a persistent ideology which still influences perceptions today. This ideology is rooted in popular racialist theories promulgated by leading intellectuals of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, such as Harry H. Laughlin, among many others (e.g., Moses Coit Tyler, Andrew D. White, John W. Burgess, Albert Bushnell Hart, John Fiske, etc.), who (mis)applied Darwin’s theories of the evolution of species of cultures, and found some species (Teutonic) superior to others (Eastern European, Negroid, Oriental) based on specious evaluations of these peoples’ “cultures.” The most vocal adherents to theories of Teutonic Supremacy argues that immigration from ‘undesirable’ counties and cultures should be limited or stopped altogether. Other, more ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ elites believed these persons could be assimilated into American society, although they did not consider the practicality of their views. Another, and smaller group, believed in cultural pluralism, i.e., that one could be American and still maintain a cultural distinctiveness. This latter group then, as today, must counter a powerful hegemony which equates speaking non-English languages with cultural and political sedition.

In this paper, I will further elaborate on this historical comparison. However, my main focus will be on what will happen after English is declared the official language of the U.S., or of its government. I will consider likely effects in education and politics; I will argue that the passage of official English laws (especially the more draconian variety) will hasten the unraveling of the ‘melting pot’ myth. Rather than ‘unite’ the country, its passage will mark the beginning of the end of civil discourse on matters of language, culture and race in America.


McClymer, J. F. 1982. The Americanization movement and the education of the foreign-born adult, 1914-25. In B. J. Weiss (ed.), American Education and the European Immigrant 1840-1940, 96-116. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Elena Schmitt, University of South Carolina:
Historical Perspective on the Language Policy in Russia

This paper presents the results of research on the language policy in the former Soviet Union carried out in conjunction with the changing status of the Russian language and languages of the other states of the Commonwealth of Independent States. A brief historical overview follows the language policy in Russia from the 18th century through the Soviet period and to the beginning of the recent reforms known as perestroika. The main idea is to analyze the language policy in Russia at different times and its correlation to the changes in the prestige and status of major and minor languages on its territory. The hypothesis behind the project is that in nay multi-nation (and therefore, multi-lingual) country, selection of any one language as official results in gradual decline of the other languages and simultaneously gives rise to enmity towards the main language.

The results of the research show that though Russian has never been announced the official language of the country de jure, de facto it has always been used as one. Once the communist regime was overthrown, Republics were quick to demonstrate their negative attitude to the Russian language and establish their own languages as official. Moreover, I found that the Russophobia was so profound that all Russian population of the Republics was forced either to learn the newly established official language or lose the right to live on its territory.

I prove the findings by quoting documents from the Plenary meetings of the Parliaments of different Independent States, devoted to the changes in the language policies. Quite interestingly, the effects of the new language policies in the newly established countries caused an irrevocable damage to the once strong Russian language almost overnight.

I maintain that the language policy in Russia has not been fully established. My argument here is that the neglect of the language policy is just as detrimental as imposition of the language against the will of the people. The claims about the present status of Russian is illustrated through many examples from recent Russian newspapers, TV shows and everyday conversations, which I recorded during my recent trip to Russia. In the conclusion I present the perspectives of the Russian language development in Russia and abroad, taking into account the growing popularity of the Russian culture in the United States.

Kate Storey, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia:
The Linguistic Rights of Non-English Speaking Suspects, Witnesses, Victims and Defendants

In the forensic and court contexts, a person’s human rights are inextricably bound up with his or her linguistic rights. It is becoming increasingly self-evident that in the investigation of foreign-language evidence, the interviewing of non-English speaking suspects, victims and witnesses, and in the prosecution (or the defence) of the non-English speaking defendant in Court, the rights of all parties involved, viz., investigating officers, suspects, witnesses, victims, forensic linguists and other experts, collators, counsel, Court and interpreters, must be observed.

There is, however, remarkably little agreement on what these rights actually are, even within linguistic, translating and interpreting, legal and judicial circles. The finer details of such rights and how they can be formulated and legislated for are still in their very early states, even in the relatively progressive climate of multi-cultural Australia, and in spite of an increasing urgency of demand.

There are several reasons for this urgency in the recognition and endorsement of the concept of “linguistic rights”. Multi-culturalism is obviously an important factor, as is the increasing recognition of the rights of indigenous populations and other minority language groups. Secondly, the ease and speed with which international of even simply dialect or language borders can be crossed by criminals (either individuals or organised crime groups) and prohibited substances, items or material (drugs, weapons, wildlife, antiques, pornography, currency and so on). Modern telecommunications – especially the telephone and fax and the Internet, and the increased mobility of people in general – because obviously it’s not just the criminals who can travel, and refugee, immigrant, tourist or visitor is potentially a victim or a witness too – all these factors combine to dramatically and exponentially extend the range of languages in which, in any given country, crimes can be committed and in which suspects, victims and witnesses will need to be interviewed. Finally, under enlightened judicial systems, the rights of any individual charged which a crime or prosecuted in the courts demand that, if he or she cannot speak or understand the language of the system, then an appropriate interpreted must be provided. This is codified, for example, in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In this paper, I examine the rights, both human and linguistic, of those involved in forensic and judicial situations involving foreign language speakers, and make some recommendations for their formulation and implementation.

Joyce Sukumane, Department of Linguistics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign:
Language Policy in Education and the future of indigenous languages in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Since 1994, the South African government has adopted a multilingual policy which advocates the use of eleven national languages, including Afrikaans, English, Xhosa and Zulu. This policy actually makes official a policy that was practiced during the apartheid era. For practical purposes then and now, however, English continues to be used as the language of instruction in most Black educational institutions in the country.

The unsatisfactory standard of English in the African educational system in most Black institutions however, has become a matter of serious concern. The shortcomings in the teaching of languages are outlined in the Report of the Main Committee of the Human Science Research Council Investigation into Education, 1981 (Section Problems in the teaching of languages). The report points to pupils’ inability to communicate properly even after they have graduated from high school and to the particular problems experienced where the medium of learning is not the mother tongue. Deficient communications has serious implications both for institutions of tertiary education and for employers.

This paper presents a critical survey of the present language policy and highlights some of the key issues that often bedevil consideration of language policy options. It argues that language policy in South African education has to be seen in the broader context of which languages are official or enjoy high status. Such status affects people’s choices regarding which languages are to be studies as subjects and which are to be used as media of instruction.

Joan Swann, Open University:
Towards Consensus? Standard English in British Educational Policy- Making

[Abstract not available at press time]

B. K. T’sou and K. K. Sin, City University of Hong Kong:
Language Legislation in Hong Kong: Some Reflections on Language Rights

Language legislation in Hong Kong has thus far gone through four different phases. To understand the issues involved, a distinction must be made between “official languages,” “legislative languages” and “court languages.” As a result of the Chinese language movement which gained momentum in 1960’s . Chinese was made an official language in addition to English in 1974 by the passing of the Official Language Ordinance (Cap 5), but its official status was only confined within the administrative operation of the government. Although the 1974 Ordinance did provide that magistrates’ courts and tribunals might use Chinese in court proceedings, in effect the provision only meant that court proceedings might be conducted entirely in Chinese without interpretation. Documentary evidence was still required to be translated into English and court records were still required to be kept in English. Moreover, legislation was still required to be enacted and published in English. The official status of Chinese as provided in Cap 5 did not make Chinese a language of the law. The situation remained unchanged until 1987 when Cap 5 was amended to provide that legislation shall be enacted and published in both official languages. It was only then that Chinese acquired its status as legislative language. However, even that status has not automatically made Chinese a fully-fledged language of the law as English remains the only court language for all important purposes. Despite the passing of the Official Languages (Amendment) Ordinance in June 1995, which allows a wider use of Chinese in judicial proceedings, proceedings in the Lands Tribunal, the District Court, the High Court and the Court of Appeal are still required to be conducted in English as transitional arrangements. It can be expected that the present situation will continued for quite some time since the full use of Chinese as a court language involves considerable difficulties.

Against the backdrop of the development of language legislation this paper studies some of the major language issues in Hong Kong and examines why the administration has failed to address the issues. It also discusses the sensitive issue of what counts as “Chinese” after sovereignty over Hong Kong reverts from Britain to China. In particular, it explores the status of Cantonese (a Chinese dialect used as the home language by more than 95% of the population) in the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong to be set up within the People’s Republic of China on July 1, 1997.

Terrence Wiley, Joint Professor of Linguistics and Education, California State University, Long Beach:
What Happens after English is Declared the Official Language of the US.? (Part II: Case Studies Past and Present)

This paper analyzes the implications of contemporary restrictionist language policies in the light of the historical experience of several ethno-linguistic minorities in he United States and its territories. Case comparisons involving German Americans, and Hawaiian groups are analyzed in sociohistorical context. It is argued that language policies derived from assimilationist ideologies differentially impact indigenous language minorities as well as speakers of non-dominant varieties of English.

SUMMARY DETAIL: The World War I era–at least in terms of scale–represents the most wide-spread period of linguistic and cultural repression in US. history (however, the assault on Native American languages represents a more extreme case in terms of degree). Although there was no constitutional amendment, the majority of states passed official English laws.

These policies were related to notions of race. At the time, there was a two-tiered racial classification system: One tier defined race within the European-origin population largely on the basis of language, relation, culture–and to a lesser degree on physical differences; the other European-origin groups assimilated–often willingly, but sometimes through coercion, into the English-speaking fold and adopted the Anglo-dominate culture.

In reflecting on the significance of the wartime attack on German Americans and other European-origin language minorities, it is apparent that members of these groups were targeted and suffered humiliation and marginalization previously experienced only by people of color. Much of that experience has, however, been forgotten, or repressed, in the collective memories of European-origin peoples. Subsequently, many among their third and fourth generation descendants have come to assume that their grandparents and great grandparents all willingly relinquished their ancestral tongues and cultures.

On the surface, Asian immigrant groups in Hawaii share a common fate with those of European origin on the mainland. for example, there was an attempt to suppress the Japanese-language press and to abolish Japanese language schools. However, despite similarities, in Hawaii, the English-only movement had less to do with language than with race and national origin. This became even more apparent after World War I. The significant difference between the treatment of the two groups is that there was no systematic endeavor to segregate German Americans from Anglo Americans as was the case for Japanese Americans in the years following the war. At the same time that English-only instruction was being imposed on Hawaiian Japanese Americans, they were being systematically segregated from European-Americans on the basis of their lack of proficiency in standard English (Tamura, 1993; Haas, 1992). Here, non- standard language proficiency became a convenient surrogate for race as well as a marker of it.

These examples illustrate that only through a careful comparative analysis of the differential impact of Americanization and the imposition of English-only policies can we understand the processes of both assimilation and exclusion. Beyond this, contemporary examples of “accent-discrimination” (Lippi-Green, 1994) against both immigrant language minorities and against African Americans (Delpit, 1995) refute the contention of official English advocates that English-only policies will benefit language minorities and lead to greater social harmony. The paper concludes by outlining on-going examples of language discrimination that occur among speakers of only English. This within-linguistic-group discrimination persists given dominant language attitudes toward language variation within the English language.

Kamal Keskar Sridhar, State University of New York at Stony Brook:
Language in Education: Minorities and Multilingualism in India

The question of education in India cannot be properly discussed without referring to its socio-linguistic context. This paper provides background information on the linguistic profile of India. The term “minorities” in the Indian context is defined, and the protection offered to linguistic minorities in the Indian Constitution is examined. A discussion of language policy in Indian education follows in which the recommendations of the different education commissions are analyzed. The important issues covered include: the number of languages that are taught, the medium of instruction, and the educational policies regarding speakers of minority languages. the article also discusses different language movements and their impact on Indian education.



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