Ideological directions in Welsh language policy: a content analysis

SAYERS, Dave (2014). Ideological directions in Welsh language policy: a content analysis. In: FINKA Symposium : On the border of language and dialect, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, 4 - 6 June 2014. (Unpublished)

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The Welsh Government’s plan to ‘create a bilingual Wales’ is ambitious – aiming for significant increases in Welsh use across Wales, a country with no Welsh monolinguals, and including areas where everyday use of Welsh has become negligible. How the devolved Welsh legislature promotes the Welsh language as a national icon touches on the fractious territory of heritage, identity, authenticity and cultural survival – all politically charged issues in the context of post-devolutionary nation-building.

This paper examines ideological orientations in three Welsh language policy documents – 'texts' which are informed and contoured by overarching national and international legislation. Content analysis is used to weigh up their ideological orientations.

The orientations are categorised using De Schutter’s (2007) tripartite framework of language ideologies:

  • ‘instrumental’ (language is a means to achieve other non-linguistic human capabilities);
  • ‘constitutive’ (language influences identity);
  • ‘intrinsic’ (language is valuable irrespective of human interests).

The findings show that the intrinsic ideology predominates significantly and consistently across the three texts. Action is planned not in the interests of human capabilities or even identity, but of the Welsh language as an independent entity. Furthermore, there are instances where potential discriminatory effects on non-speakers of Welsh are acknowledged, and explicitly justified within the pursuit of increased Welsh usage.

Overall, these ideological orientations make Welsh language policy quite unusual when compared to other areas of Welsh social policy (e.g. Sayers, Barchas-Lichtenstein, Rock & Coffey, in prep.).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Humanities Research Centre
Depositing User: Jill Hazard
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2015 13:13
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2015 05:11

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