|Behavior and disciplined study
Behavior is one. The study of behavior
is not one. The student of behavior selects some part of behavior for study and inevitably
brings to it a perspective and a discourse. There is discourse because the student
communicates with a group of fellow students. Thus networks the group into an invisible
college. Invisible because the perspectives and discourses constitute it, yet visible
because individuals identify as participants. The invisible college has open admission,
and participants bring to it what they wish. Common sense predicts diversity of discourses
and perspectives, and even divergent yet related selections of parts of behavior for
study. There is variation and that is good. There is no contradiction between diversity
and shared understanding in the search for new knowledge. Discipline encompasses diversity
and stability of discourse. Discipline is explicit choice and agreement, on selection of
behavior for study, and perhaps also constraints on perspectives.
the study of language planning a discipline?
Do those who are
interested, as I am, in the deliberate behavior towards language that is variously
referred to today as "language planning" or "language policy" or
"language policy and language planning" (and other labels) recognize and share a
discipline? I think not. Do we recognize several disciplines? Yes, there is recognition of
inter-/multi-disciplinarity; there is study by political science, sociology, law, and
economics. Is there study by linguistics? No. But there clearly should be. Is language
planning (policy planning, etc.) the only deliberate behavior towards language? No, it is
not. Would it make sense to develop a unified perspective on behaviors towards language?
Yes. Do we form an invisible college? Yes, we do.
and discipline are not aligned. Can they be aligned without sacrificing diversity and
inter-/multi-disciplinarity? Yes, they can. Adding a disciplined perspective to the study
of a part of behavior that already benefits from other disciplines is a good so there is
no sacrifice, there is only increase of diversity.
disciplined study of language planning as communication
The college of
(students of) language planning may be ready to, and I think should, recognize a
discipline -- in addition to the other disciplinary perspectives -- built on language as
communication, on the process of language use.
I have in mind a
linguistics of language planning. General linguistic theory is not specific enough. If
indeed conducted to its limits of investigating human expressive potential to generate any
one language, general linguistic theory would necessarily inform all enquiries into
language use. It would set the limits. But within those limits of expression there are
many choices. Can descriptive linguistics help? Descriptive linguistics (of language as a
system) may post facto provide useful measures of language already used but does not deal
with language as process.
A discipline that
builds on language for communication takes as its fundamental premise that communication
is a process between people and that people want to communicate. Thus, it can identify but
excludes from study exclusionary practices; political science takes up what language
management cannot. Finding a shared language is a language problem, how to learn a
language, any language, is a language problem; but requirements that a particular language
must be known or used or displayed (for commerce, access) may reflect some other kind of
It is a fact that
difficulties arise in the process of communication. It is equally a fact that when people
talk, they manage these difficulties in subsequent turns. This fact is incorporated in
several discourse theories, e.g., in conversational analysis and ethnomethodology, and in
theories of speaking. These theories recognize the process of repair. A limiting case is
that people do not share "a language", yet, the idea that this extreme contact
situation can be successfully resolved in discourse is inherent in the fields of pidgin
studies and language acquisition.
foundation for language planning rests on the recognition that speaking comprises acts of
generating as well as managing discourse so as to accomplish continuing communication.