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date: 10 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the role of language, and the related status of language varieties, in the modern nation-state system, which emphasizes linguistic homogeneity, especially in the public realm. The emphasis on linguistic homogeneity within modern nation-states, which specifically disadvantages minority language speakers, is compared to the more open, multilingual approach adopted by a range of empires historically. A more linguistically accommodative approach in international law has also emerged, albeit unevenly, over the last sixty to seventy years. The latter emphasizes the public accommodation of minority languages, particularly for national minorities, which equates to what Kloss (1977) has termed “promotion-oriented” language rights. The chapter concludes that the expansion of promotion-oriented language rights accords with a more pluralistic and inclusive approach to linguistic diversity in an increasingly globalized world. Such developments are thus also compatible with the “multilingual turn,” recognizing and valuing multilingual repertoires as a basis for sociolinguistic analysis.

Keywords: language rights, nationalism, empire, minority language, multilingual

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