Proceedings from the CALS conference 2014
Edited By Kristina Cergol Kovačević and Sanda Lucija Udier
The real relationship of language majorities and minorities
Multilingualism, or rather language diversity, varying demographic distributions of speakers of one or another idiom, and, perhaps most important, differences in the distribution of social power have led to the existence of language majorities and minorities. Despite their complementary relationship and despite the present consensus about the notion of minorities as marginalized, subordinated, and discriminated communities, the “minority question” over and above the level of minimal understanding of culture and language continues to be a problem in documents on European language policy in the context of protection of minority rights and promotion of multilingualism. This is exacerbated by the fact that there is as yet no universally accepted definition of the concepts “minority” and “minority rights”, nor any universally accepted classification of minorities (old, new, visible, compact, diffuse, etc.); there are problems in terminology as well (regional and/or minority languages).
The real relationship of language majorities and minorities, as defined by their own elites, is manifested in varying ways with regard to the communicative and symbolic dimension of the relationship. A language minority that functions only in symbolic space and not in communicative space is quick to assimilate and will disappear with time, unlike one that functions in both sorts of space.
Majority-minority relations are heavily marked by national ideologies which can be seen as generators of language minorities and of discrimination against them, and even by “active linguicide”, i.e. elimination of the minority language or its exclusion from the space...
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