Towards an Ecology of World Languages

Towards an Ecology of World Languages

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Description

There are around 5,000 languages spoken across the world today, but the languages that coexist in our multilingual world have varied functions and fulfil various roles. Some are spoken by small groups, a village or a tribe; others, much less numerous, are spoken by hundreds of millions of speakers. Certain languages, like English, French and Chinese, are highly valued, while others are largely ignored. Even if all languages are equal in the eyes of the linguist, the world s languages are in fact fundamentally unequal. All languages do not have the same value, and their inequality is at the heart of the way they are organized across the world. In this major book Louis-Jean Calvet, one of the foremost sociolinguists working today, develops an ecological approach to language in order to analyse the changing structure of the world language system. The ecological approach to language begins from actual linguistic practices and studies the relations between these practices and their social, political and economic environment. The practices which constitute languages, on the one hand, and their environment, on the other, form a linguistic ecosystem in which languages coexist, multiply and influence one another. Using a rich panoply of examples from across the world, Calvet elaborates the ecological approach and shows how it can shed light on the changing forms of language use in the world today. This path-breaking book will be of great value to students and scholars in linguistics and sociolinguistics and to anyone concerned with the fate of languages in our increasingly globalized world.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 150 x 228 x 24mm | 439.99g
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745629563
  • 9780745629568
  • 756,297

About Louis-Jean Calvet

Louis-Jean Calvet is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Provence, Aix-en-Provence.show more

Back cover copy

There are around 5,000 languages spoken across the world today, but the languages that coexist in our multilingual world have varied functions and fulfil various roles. Some are spoken by small groups, a village or a tribe; others, much less numerous, are spoken by hundreds of millions of speakers. Certain languages, like English, French and Chinese, are highly valued, while others are largely ignored. Even if all languages are equal in the eyes of the linguist, the world's languages are in fact fundamentally unequal. All languages do not have the same value, and their inequality is at the heart of the way they are organized across the world. In this major book Louis-Jean Calvet, one of the foremost sociolinguists working today, develops an ecological approach to language in order to analyse the changing structure of the world language system. The ecological approach to language begins from actual linguistic practices and studies the relations between these practices and their social, political and economic environment. The practices which constitute languages, on the one hand, and their environment, on the other, form a linguistic ecosystem in which languages coexist, multiply and influence one another. Using a rich panoply of examples from across the world, Calvet elaborates the ecological approach and shows how it can shed light on the changing forms of language use in the world today. This path-breaking book will be of great value to students and scholars in linguistics and sociolinguistics and to anyone concerned with the fate of languages in our increasingly globalized world.show more

Review quote

"A treasure-trove addition in the realm of ecolinguistics ... of interest not only to professional linguists - it is also a highly recommended textbook for students of linguistics." Jan Blommaert and Pan Lin, Journal of Sociolinguistics "This is an important book, original in its conception, provocative in its argument, accessible in its content. Given the growing interest in language diversity, the publication of this book in English will be of great value for students and scholars alike." Humphrey Tonkin, University of Hartford "Calvet's ideas are great, and are as relevant today as ever." David Crystal, University of Walesshow more

Table of contents

Acknowledgements INTRODUCTION: practices and representations 1. The ecology of languages The need for identity and its linguistic manifestations: endogenous and exogenous relexifications The graphic environment Dramatic change in a specific linguistic ecology: the example of Australia The political frontier and the ecolinguistic system The influence of the horse on European languages 98 A false conception of linguistic ecology: Bickerton's simulation project Conclusions 2. The galaxy of languages Constellations of languages The galactic model and linguistic policy: the example of the European Community The Hindi constellation The Bambara constellation The galaxy of writing systems Conclusions 3. Regulation and change: the homeostatic model An example of internal regulation: vernacular variants of French Of ships and languages: from Christopher Columbus to lingua franca Vernacularization as ecological acclimatization:varieties of French in Africa African argots and the ecolinguistic niche; the example of Bukavu Conclusions: acclimatization and acclimatation 4. Linguistic representations and change Linguistic insecurity and representations: a historical approach Some theoretical problems: a first approach Some problems of description Conclusions 5. Transmission and change The transmission of first languages and the myth of the mother tongue The case of creoles: upheaval in the ecolinguistic niche and linguistic change The transmission of gravitational systems Conclusion: evolution and revolution 6. Five case studies One name for several languages: Arabic schizoglossia Several names for one language: the example of Kituba One, two or three languages? The example of Serbo-Croat Kraemer: the invention of French in the socioprofessional context An ecological niche: the Island of St-Barthelemy CONCLUSION: Inventing language, giving it a name Notes Bibliography Indexshow more

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