Colonized and Decolonized Ideologies in Communities: Who gets to Decide?

Author: Sylvie Roy (University of Calgary, Werklund School of Education, Alberta, Canada)
Speaker: Sylvie Roy
Topic: Applied Sociolinguistics
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


Countries, which have several national and official languages, often choose one particular language in schools so children can acquire it for their future. Even if several languages are chosen, one language in power still prevails in discourses and in practices. Language ideologies, the beliefs held by a community, always make it difficult to understand the heritage and cultural lost related to the choice made. In Canada, for example, even if we have two official languages (French-English), English stays the language of power for new immigrants and refugees making it difficult for families to keep their first languages, even for the French minority. As for Africa, years of discussions do not change the fact that there are still ideologies connected to nation-state and ideologies informed by anti-colonialist struggle and anti-imperialist philosophy (Wolff, 2016).

In this interactive presentation, based on Blommaert’s Language Ideological Debates book (1999) and using a Sociolinguistic for change framework (Roy, 2020), I will bring forward questions related to language ideologies such as how do we decide which languages to promote and for what purposes? Who are excluded in the process, why and for what consequences? I question how ideologies (in addition to ideologies related to specific powerful languages) and social processes (e.g., social categorization, marginalization, etc.) can affect as well as impede processes of social identity construction and language learning.

This is a presentation that will focus on discussing with the audience and their understanding of complex ideologies related to their own community. Language ideological debates are part of more general sociopolitical processes, and contributions from community members “may consist of a clearer understanding of the precise role played by language ideologies in more general sociopolitical developments, conflicts and struggles.” (Blommaert, 1999, 2).

Keywords: Ideologies, Languages, Communities, marginalization