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Sociolingüística internacional

What happened to language planning?,
per Björn H. Jernudd


Language management as a discipline for language planning

The difficulties, or inadequacies as I shall call them henceforth in accordance with the terms defined in the language management theory, can be as various as people make them. Ways in which people note potential inadequacies and implement adjustments also vary. However, there are some patterns: noting by speaker ('self') is often an interruption of an ongoing utterance accompanied by a murmur ['uh']; and implementation of adjustment of an expression noted by self is often preceded by a repetition of the syllable or word immediately preceding the "product-item" when it is repaired (as ethnomethodologists term the noted speech segment and its adjustment, respectively).

Inadequacies are difficulties in discourse, during "on-line" communication; their equivalents "off-line" are language problems. What people cannot handle as they speak become problems for discussion and resolution, they become meta-difficulties, their solutions then to be accessed and implemented as adjustments in discourse.

The very notion of a discipline of study built on language as communication implies meta-communication, and language planning is but one of its kinds. The entire set of kinds of "off-line" behaviors towards language that solves problems of communication is language management. This allows also language management in discourse, out of which -- or at least in relation to which -- meta-kinds of language management arise.

A claim that there is a language problem must answer the following questions:

  • What is the problem?

  • Whose is the problem?

  • Who is responsible for solving the problem?

The answers will reveal whether the claim addresses a communication problem or some other kind of problem, whether the claim is an imposition or has indeed a motivation in discourse, and what the relation of the claimant is to the problem.

What kinds of language management are there?

What kinds of language management are there? Many classifications are possible.

a) A parametric approach to kinds of language management

One parameter could account for how people manage language more or less rigorously. Language teaching or term management may be ad hoc or quite systematically informed by particular theories.

Another parameter accounts for how people manage language with more or less scope. Term management typically concerns a specialized, narrow field of work; dictionary writing anticipates all problems with the lexicon of a language or two.

Other parameters could account for how people manage language in different sectors of a speech community, and with different organization: in-house a corporation, as language teachers and language learning researchers in the educational sector, as a public non-profit advisory agency, as drafts(wo)men and translators in the legal sector, as copy-editors in newspaper production.

b) A holistic empirical approach

A holistic empirical approach turns up language planning and its agencies in the new states.

It turns up the tradition of academies in the older countries including South America which once were similarly motivated -- and the idea of a language academy in the old world has inspired many a language planning agency in the new states.

It finds a European tradition of cultivation of language (Sprachkultur, kul'tura jazyka, språkvård). Although this kind of language management works within a national language and in support of it, contemporary society requires of these agencies to address also the relation of use of the national language to the use of minorities' varieties and to domestic use of English. The cultivation communities have accumulated experiential and theoretical knowledge largely because of their relatively long history of recorded continuous use of languages. The literature reveals a striking lack of overlap of reference and personnel between it and the college of language planners. (1).

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