Journal of Intercultural Communication, issue 3, 2000

Bente Bakmand

National language planning, why (not)?


This paper will focus on national political views on the appropriateness of language planning in relation to respectively the status, the corpus and the acquisition of various languages. In the light of concrete `language policy events' and the debates - parliamentary, in the media and in academic discourse - in relation to these, the aim of the paper is to discuss which domains within language matters are considered objects of national political intervention and for which reasons. French language policy which is relatively explicit will be compared with more implicit Danish language policy. The interrelations of ideologically and pragmatically founded reasons for intervening in various language matters will be discussed: In an internationally oriented world, where cultural and linguistic pluralism prevail at the expense of national homogeneity, which role is left for national language policy, if any? Can a phenomenon which traditionally has been considered mainly as a tool for uniting nations possibly become a tool for granting and improving democracy in modern Western European societies' internal and external communication? Or should national governments once and for all leave such matters to individual choices, EU language policies or market forces? Answering in depth to these broad questions is not the ambition of the paper, whereas outlining tendencies in the ongoing political discourses connected to the issue is the aim, in the light of the approaches in the scientific study of language planning and language policy.

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