Language Ideologies: Practice and Theory

Woolard, K.A. (1998) Introduction: Language Ideology as a Field of Inquiry. In Language Ideologies: Practice and Theory. Oxford University Press: New York.,+K.A.+(1998)+Introduction:+Language+Ideology+as+a+Field+of+Inquiry.&ots=1DUoSWzomj&sig=6rccEG-fdq-IdsF6zfen9Bqf0_4#v=onepage&q=Woolard%2C%20K.A.%20(1998)%20Introduction%3A%20Language%20Ideology%20as%20a%20Field%20of%20Inquiry.&f=false

Essay concentrates on the concept of ideology and the cultural conceptions of language and communication as enacted by a collective. The study of language ideology is a bridge between linguistic and social theory. Considering ideology allows scholars to consider the smallest of communication acts in relation to political, economic and social acts of power and inequality and examine the larger macro-social restraints on language behavior in lived experiences.

Woolard works through the theoretical legacy of ideology: 1) as a mental/conscious phenomena, to the structured, lived experience (Althusser/Gramsci); 2) as responsive to experience of a privileged social group; 3) ideas, discourse, practices in service to acquiring or maintaining power; 4) illusion.

With no stable meaning of the term, how do we conceptualize language ideology?  Is it how ideology peeks through language use or how language use reflects explicit ideologies (10)? Methodologically, we are told to examine everything in the social frame (social relations and power relations).

Ideology can distort the linguistic structure (12). Woolard then gives several historical examples of when this occurs (Quakers, New Yorkers, etc.).

Then came the shift to thinking about language and ideology in practice (pragmatics specifically) (14).

Language contact and conflict: language ideology often involves identifying people with languages (16). These often works as hegemony much to the demise of folk and minority language (17).

Index and icons work as tools of language ideology; the attribution of social, moral, and political meanings to specific language varieties and the erasure of contradictions and variation affect patterns of language… (19).

Communities evaluate and incorporated linguistic resources of groups in contact (20).

Overt Intervention: Policy, purism, and standardization– super imposed standard languages are tied to writing, hegemonic institutions, and European forms of civil and human life (21).

Literacy and Orthography: literacy is not a neutral practice; it has profound consequences (23). Same can be said about transcription and how you write language.

Colonial Language Ideology: there are links among ideological, linguistic, and social forms that connect to colonialism. There has been a recent shift to indigenous language studies (25).

Historiography of linguistics: emerging linguistics contributed to religious, class, and/or national projects (26). Ideologically selective nature of linguistic/sociolinguistic research.


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