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date: 23 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The concept of language “minority” derives largely from the idea of national standard language which developed as part of the nation-state system and its constant search for homogenization. Those who remained outside the processes of linguistic convergence to the standard (for whatever reason) were designated “minority.” They were salient in a political system that prized intragroup communication and were often the object of prejudice and suspicion. State majorities tended either to exclude or assimilate them. Where international law intervened to provide language rights, there was a preference for individual over group rights and for negative over positive rights. And when these weak rights were extended and minority languages accepted in the public space, there was always pressure for a standard—on the nation-state model. However, standardization often has a negative effect, working against maintenance of traditional dialect continua and contemporary heteroglossia. This complexity is worthy of further consideration in any attempt at language policy or planning.

Keywords: minority language maintenance, language rights, nation-building, community of communication, language standardization, language policy or planning

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