Interests and Power in Language Management

by Marek Nekula (Volume editor) Tamah Sherman (Volume editor) Halina Zawiszová (Volume editor)
©2022 Edited Collection 378 Pages
Open Access


This volume expands the discussion on the language management (LM) framework through two themes: interests and power, which are driving forces of the LM process, observable and describable at every step. It consists of thirteen contributions analyzing diverse situations in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Authors focus on a range of topics, including the role of language ideologies in various types of institutions, such as higher education institutions and language cultivation centers, the struggle to maintain minority languages, the positions of the actors involved in the process of making policies concerning foreign language teaching, or the processes that learning and choosing to use foreign languages entail. Emergent insights into the commonalities in the ways in which interests and power guide or underlie the management of language, communication, and sociocultural problems contribute significantly to the strength of LM as a sociolinguistic framework.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Contributors
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Exploring interests and power in language management (Marek Nekula / Tamah Sherman / Halina Zawiszová)
  • Part I: Language ideologies
  • Why and how ideology matters for Language Management Theory (Goro Christoph Kimura)
  • Council for the Standard Croatian Language Norm: The failure of ‘hard power’ (Petar Vuković)
  • Divergent interests and argumentation in Czech Language Consulting Center interactions (Jakub Kopecký)
  • Language politics at Stellenbosch University, South Africa (Stephanie Rudwick)
  • Part II: Minority languages and minoritized languages
  • Language management from above (and from below), from outside (and from inside): The case of Lower Sorbian (Roland Marti)
  • Interests, power, and austerity in Irish-language policy 2008–2018 (Ben Ó Ceallaigh)
  • Key actors in the organized language management of Ukraine: On the materials of language legislation development and adoption (Nadiya Kiss)
  • The interaction of nationalist language ideology and the interests of individual actors: An unresolved dispute over language use on Latvian house number signs (Solvita Burr (née Pošeiko))
  • Part III: Foreign language policies, teaching and learning, and use
  • Interests and power in English education policy in Japan: A focus on the high school ‘Teaching/Learning English in English’ policy (Lisa Fairbrother)
  • The investment in managing interests and power through study abroad: Literacy and identities from a translingual perspective (Hiroyuki Nemoto)
  • German as a foreign and a minority language in the light of the interests of social actors: The case of the Czech Republic (Vít Dovalil)
  • Non-Japanese business people’s use of Japanese language in their workplace in Japan (Chikako Ketcham)
  • Epilogue
  • Some remarks on power in simple and organized language management (Björn Jernudd)
  • Index
  • Series Index

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Solvita Burr (née Pošeiko) is a senior researcher at the Latvian Language Institute of the University of Latvia and lecturer at the University of Washington (USA). Her research interests focus on the comprehensive study of cityscapes (linguistic, semiotic, cultural landscapes) in terms of multilingualism, language policy and language management, glocalization, and edusemiotics.

E-mail: solvita.burr@gmail.com

Vít Dovalil is an assistant professor at the Department of Germanic Studies, Charles University, Prague. He obtained his MA in German and Political Sciences at the Faculty of Arts, and in law at the Faculty of Law, Charles University, Prague. He earned his PhD in 2004. His research interests include language policy, language planning and management of multilingualism in the European Union. He also studies German as a foreign language in the Czech Republic as well as German grammar both from the structural and sociolinguistic perspective (processes of language standardization and destandardization).

E-mail: vit.dovalil@ff.cuni.cz

Lisa Fairbrother is a professor in the Department of English Studies at Sophia University, Tokyo, where she teaches sociolinguistics, intercultural interaction, TESOL and English. Her main research interests focus on language management in intercultural contact situations, particularly in the multilingual workplace, and during study abroad. She has also conducted research on native-speakerism and Japanese language education policy. Her research has been published in the International Journal of the Sociology of Language, the Journal of Asian Pacific Communication and the Japanese Journal of Language and Society and she is co-editor of A Language Management Approach to Language Problems: Integrating Micro and Macro Dimensions (John Benjamins) and The Language Management Approach: A Focus on Research Methodology (Peter Lang).

E-mail: l-fairbr@sophia.ac.jp

Björn Jernudd continues his search for solutions to describing and explaining language problems in the framework of Language Management Theory. He also works on describing the For language used among the For people in Darfur (the Land of the For in Sudan) and on organizing data once collected in 1968 in Papua New Guinea on the early organized development of Tok Pisin.

E-mail: jernudd@gmail.com

Chikako Ketcham is an adjunct lecturer at Sophia University and Musashino University Graduate School of Language and Culture, Tokyo, Japan, where she teaches Japanese in academic and business fields. Her research interests include Business ←7 | 8→Japanese language education and evaluation of Oral Proficiency Interviews in Japanese.

E-mail: chikakoketcham@gmail.com

Goro Christoph Kimura, PhD, is professor at the Faculty of Foreign Studies, Sophia University, Tokyo. He specializes in sociolinguistics, especially focusing on the social functions of second and foreign languages, interlingual communication as well as the revival and revitalization of minority languages (in Europe and Japan). Recently he published the book Igengokan komyunikesyon no hoho: baikaigengo o meguru giron to zissen [Interlingual communication strategies: arguments and reality], Tokyo: Taishukan 2021.

E-mail: g-kimura@sophia.ac.jp

Nadiya Kiss is a postdoctoral researcher in Giessen Center for East European Studies (GiZO) in Justus Liebig University of Giessen, Germany. She received her Master of Arts in Comparative Literature at National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine and defended her PhD dissertation on Ukrainian juridicial terminology in Yurii Fed’kovych National Chernivtsi University, Ukraine. She is also the author of a book about rhetoric of Ukrainian Euromaidan protest. The main fields of her research interests are sociolinguistics, language policies in Ukraine and post-Soviet countries, protest rhetorics and the language biography method.

E-mail: Nadiya.Kiss@slavistik.uni-giessen.de

Jakub Kopecký is a researcher at the Czech Language Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences. He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Czech Language from Charles University, Prague. His research focuses on language management in the Czech Republic, argumentation in interaction, online communication and interdiscursivity in multimodal discourse.

E-mail: kopecky@ujc.cas.cz

Roland Marti is professor emeritus of Slavonic philology at Saarland University, Germany. He studied in Basel, where he obtained his academic degrees, and in Moscow. He has taught in Switzerland, Germany, France, and Ukraine. His areas of interest include historical philology (especially Old Church Slavonic), problems of written languages, minority languages (especially Lower and Upper Sorbian) and problems of their language management.

E-mail: rwmslav@mx.uni-saarland.de

Marek Nekula is professor of Czech and West Slavic Studies at University of Regensburg, Germany. He studied in Brno (CZ) and Berlin, where he obtained his academic degrees respectively. His linguistic areas of interest include Czech grammar, comparative linguistics and typology, (Czech-German) bilingualism and (historical) sociolinguistics including language policy, language planning and language management.

E-mail: marek.nekula@ur.de←8 | 9→

Hiroyuki Nemoto is professor of Sociolinguistics at Ritsumeikan University, Japan. He received his Ph.D. from Monash University, Australia. His research interests lie in the area of sociolinguistics, including sociocultural approaches to SLA, intercultural interactions, identity transformation, translingual literacy, and language management.

E-mail: hnemoto@fc.ritsumei.ac.jp

Ben Ó Ceallaigh is a lecturer in Celtic Studies in Aberystwyth University in Wales. He has a degree in Politics, Sociology and Philosophy and a MA in Language Planning from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. He has worked in a professional and voluntary capacity on language revitalization in Ireland and Scotland.

E-mail: benoceallaigh89@gmail.com

Stephanie Rudwick is a linguistic anthropologist employed in the Department of African Studies/Political Science at the University of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic. She is also an honorary researcher at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa where she also conducts most of her fieldwork. Her research focuses primarily on the sociocultural politics of language, race, ethnicity, and gender and she has published widely on these topics.

E-mail: stephanie.rudwick@uhk.cz

Tamah Sherman is a researcher at the Czech Language Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences, and an assistant professor at the Institute of General Linguistics, Charles University, Prague. Her research focuses on interaction and meta-linguistic behavior, using the framework of Language Management Theory, Ethnomethodology, and Conversation Analysis. The particular focus of her investigation is on situations of multiple language use in the Czech Republic after 1989.

E-mail: tamah.sherman@ff.cuni.cz

Petar Vuković is a professor at the Department of West Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Zagreb, where he teaches Czech linguistics. His research focuses on sociolinguistics and language standardization.

E-mail: petar.vukovic@ffzg.hr

Halina Zawiszová is an assistant professor at the Department of Asian Studies at Palacký University Olomouc. Her main research foci revolve around topics related to emotion, language, and social interaction. She is also interested in management of foreign languages and social identities at different levels of organization.

E-mail: halina.zawiszova@upol.cz

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The creation of any book is a long process. This was also the case with our volume. Along the way, we have experienced a wide range of assistance. For this, we would like to thank those who have contributed to and supported the creation of this book.

The road to this book began with the symposium of the same name, Interests and Power in Language Management, the fifth in the series of international language management symposia. This symposium took place in September 2017 at the University of Regensburg. The realization of the symposium would not have been possible without the work of the scientific committee and local organizing committee. At minimum, we would like to thank Jiří Nekvapil and Marián Sloboda, whose experience and ideas helped the symposium to succeed. However, we would also like to thank all of the numerous participants who, in the discussion, further developed the questions raised by this symposium. Their lively engagement served as encouragement for us to tackle the volume as well.

On the main road to the actual realization of the volume, we were able to rely on many helpers who, however, cannot be named, as is required in an anonymous peer-review process. The gratitude due to them for their unselfish help, without which such a publication could not be produced, is not diminished by this—rather the opposite. We would also like to thank the student assistants who supported us in the formal review of the accepted contributions. Tabea Knüppe is mentioned here as a representative. Above all, we would like to thank the authors for their active cooperation in the creation of the volume, as well as for their understanding that the creation process lasted somewhat longer than we thought at the beginning.

Last but not least, we would like to thank Jiří Nekvapil as one of the editors of the series in which this volume appears who accompanied and encouraged us along the way and who also did the final reading of the book. We would also like to thank Björn Hansen and Paul Rössler from the University of Regensburg, who supported us in finding funding for the volume and its open access publication.

The editors

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Marek Nekula / Tamah Sherman / Halina Zawiszová

Exploring interests and power in language management

1 Introductory remarks

This volume continues in the tradition of volumes and special journal issues exploring the language management (LM) framework with a focus on one of its specific aspects or broader themes. In the first of these, a special issue of the Journal of Asian Pacific Communication (Marriott & Nekvapil 2012), the emphasis was placed on the first phase of the LM process, noting. Most recently, volumes have been published devoted to methodology in LM research (Fairbrother, Nekvapil & Sloboda 2018) and the interaction of micro and macro perspectives in LM (Kimura & Fairbrother 2020). As can be observed, multiple steps have been taken toward a comprehensive picture of LM, but the future leads in many more thus far insufficiently explored directions. Interestingly, moving along these paths involves going back to the beginnings of both Language Management Theory (LMT) and Language Planning and Policy (LPP) and examining the degree to which individual aims, topics and perspectives in selected original programs have been fulfilled.

Interests and power, the themes selected for the present volume, have been long acknowledged as important factors in various approaches in LPP. Despite this fact, it is not an exaggeration to claim that very little focused attention has been devoted to them compared to other factors such as motivation or goals of LPP. In LM, with its focus on noted deviations from norms, the evaluations of those deviations, and the design and implementation of adjustments, it can be, however, argued that interests and power are in fact the driving forces, observable and describable at every step of the process. The interests can be seen as a background for established norms and norms that emerge through simple and especially organized LM, and power may determine their reach in the process in LM. In fact, the seminal LM text from Björn H. Jernudd and Jiří V. Neustupný (1987) discusses this point extensively.

In order to show the importance of interests and power for LM, we first must have a look at how these concepts have thus far been understood. As the texts in this volume reveal, both are seen as something somehow possessed (or lacked) by social actors, power is acquired (or lost), someone may be in a “position of power,” or we can talk about “power dynamics,” “power balances” and “imbalances” or “hierarchies,” while interests are “declared,” “negotiated,” “pursued,” or “achieved.” On the other hand, languages or other non-human entities or concepts can also have or give power, but not interests and intentions.←15 | 16→

2 Interests

Interests can be viewed as dispositions perceived as positive or beneficial for individuals, groups, institutions, and the like. They can take the form of internal psychological entities such as desires or needs, or be more explicit, aware, or declared, such as ambitions, aims, ends, or goals. They may be personal, political, ideological, material, or otherwise. We can illustrate this with the example of an act of LM: learning a specific language. It may serve one’s personal interests if the language is used in a (mixed) family, one’s political interests if the acquisition of majority and minority language is legally regulated, one’s ideological interests if the ethnic identity is respected, or one’s material interests if it is instrumental in finding employment.

Jiří V. Neustupný has defined interests as “aspirations for a certain state of affairs that is favourable to the subject” (Neustupný 2002: 3). And in their seminal 1987 text, a reaction to Brian Weinstein’s (1987) exposition on the role of interests in language planning, Jernudd and Neustupný discuss how varied this “subject” can be, pointing out that there is often no set of universal interests that can be associated with an individual society or community. Individual interests may vary within a single community, and the collective interests of different communities may vary greatly or even stand in opposition or conflict to one another.

There are many examples of such language conflicts between linguistic communities within a society (for example between Walloons and Flemish in Belgium, Catalonians and Spaniards in Spain or Czechs and Germans in the Czech Lands) in which linguistic and non-linguistic interests are combined. In language conflicts, the suppression of linguistic interests of a minority or dominated community to communicate in their language may stem from the linguistic, social, and economic interests of a majority or ruling community which are also realized through the control of communicative domains. On the one hand, the communicative norms based on the differing status of respective languages seem to have to do with interests and power of the linguistic majority or dominant community and with powerlessness of linguistic minority or dominated community, as described in classical theories of nation building and LPP (Hroch 2015; Haugen 1966). On the other hand, we have to deal with the enforcement of non-linguistic (social and economic) interests of a social group within a minority or dominated community by combining them argumentatively with the linguistic interests of the whole linguistic minority or dominated linguistic community. This is one way of mobilizing the members of such communities in order to gain power in the fight against the imagined linguistic (and social) suppression, as constructivist theories of nation building and “imagined communities” suggest (Gellner 1983; Anderson 1991). They even contest the “imagined non-communities” to save the interests of children educated outside of their linguistic community (Zahra 2010). These “monolingual” linguistic communities and their interests are the result of the narration of “many as one” (Bhabha 2008 [1990]: 202).←16 | 17→

Interests can be observed at various stages of the LM process. Foreign accents and learner varieties in the public domain, on the one hand, or the absence of a foreign variety understood as a necessary part of the repertoire of elites (in Central Europe Latin, later German, and now English), on the other hand, can be noted (and evaluated) by the members of the majority or by elites (Jernudd & Neustupný 1987: 78 f.) to promote their non-linguistic (social, economic) interests—to delimit and to control public and elite domains linguistically. At the stage of adjustment design and its implementation, the interests behind the norms mentioned above (“native” standard of majority language; knowledge of selected foreign language(s)), are implemented by the school that qualifies for the public sphere (standard needed in the legal system, authorities, education, media) and specific elite domains (English needed in international trade, economy, diplomacy, research) as well as by (language) certificates needed for job or residency applications. It is quite similar to the process of standardization of a language that can be seen as a result of a language planning process with respect to the educated variety whereas territorial and uncultivated social dialects were excluded. This enables the educated (bourgeois) middle classes of a linguistic community to use their cultivated code unfamiliar to other classes and, in this way, to realize their material and social interests—to delimit and control social resources as well as the transfer of knowledge within a linguistic community (Linke 1996).

In his paper on desegregation of the American education system by the act from 1954, Derrick Bell (1980) shows, however, that the interests of social groups need not be only in conflict but can also go together. The change in the American education system started with desegregation, of course, can be interpreted in different ways. On the one hand, the interests of black Americans in obtaining (more) equality in education seem to be enforced against the interests of the white middle classes. With respect to changing social settings inside and outside of America, Bell on the other hand sees the desegregation of the education system as the result of a “convergence” of interests. This change in the American education system then made America more credible, both internally for (black) veterans fighting in World War II for freedom and equality and externally, for the people of the third world where the US was in competition with the Soviet Union. Bell also interprets this change as a chance for industrialization of the southern states. In this sense, the act from 1954 was passed in the interest of white middle classes. There are social, political, and economic interests behind the act that opened the door for the implementation of norms of social equality in the American education system.

Of course, we can view the concept of interest convergence more generally and apply it also to language issues and LPP. The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, adopted as a convention on June 25, 1992 by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and entered into force on March 1, 1998, can then be interpreted in a similar way. The Charter helps to satisfy the linguistic interests of autochthonous minorities within the European nation-states. At the same time, it also legally solidifies the hierarchy of majority and minority languages and supports the social, political, and economic interests of ←17 | 18→majorities within the European nation-states by stabilizing them internally as democratic and giving them (and the EU, which adopts these principles) democratic authority externally—in the international context. Against the background of linguistic and non-linguistic conflicts in the post-Yugoslav and post-Soviet territories in the early 1990s, the EU seems to be a haven of stability also from the linguistic point of view although some states—like Greece, Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Latvia—have not signed it to avoid commitments to their minorities. The Charter is, however, without sanctions and is intended to protect only the autochthonous minority languages (cf. Raos 2015). The interests of allochthonous minorities (i.e., new migrant groups), which may be similar to the linguistic and social interests of autochthonous minorities, are not involved in the Charter. This is because the satisfaction of the interests of the allochthonous minorities would probably be economically more expensive and socially more complex and likely connected with a loss of full control over the communication in the public space, which the majority in the nation-states is interested in and why the majority language is presented as more important than the minority one. Both types of minorities seem to accept these language ideologies and the majority language as necessary social capital and learn it to satisfy their material interests. To promote and to realize such linguistic and social interests, linguistic communities seem to need power.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Open Access
Publication date
2022 (April)
sociolinguistics language policy language planning language management
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 378 pp., 9 fig. b/w, 10 tables.

Biographical notes

Marek Nekula (Volume editor) Tamah Sherman (Volume editor) Halina Zawiszová (Volume editor)

Marek Nekula is Professor at the Institute of Slavic Studies at the University of Regensburg, Germany. His linguistic research focuses on language contact and multilingualism in Central Europe, using the framework of Language Management Theory for different sociolinguistic issues. Tamah Sherman is a researcher at the Czech Language Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences. Her research focuses on interaction and meta-linguistic behavior, using the frameworks of Language Management Theory, Ethnomethodology, and Conversation Analysis. Halina Zawiszová is Assistant Professor at the Department of Asian Studies at Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic. Her main research foci revolve around topics related to emotion, language, and social interaction. She is also interested in the management of foreign languages and social identities at different levels of organization.


Title: Interests and Power in Language Management