We have seen that researchers tend to confuse language policies with multilingualism itself, and have often attempted to map both onto the same symbolic representation, with the result that neither the policy nor the facts of multilingualism emerge clearly. In particular we have seen that what is often missing is the distinction between `linguistic register(s)' (based on language use) and linguistic repertoire (based on the proficiencies of language users). And, as Fasold has pointed out, linguistic continua with variable or gradient functions are too often forced into discrete either-or cells.
While policy and sociolinguistic reality must be kept separate (since they do not represent the same thing) attempts to typologize language policy must reflect some of the same dimensions and factors used to symbolize users' competencies. The closer the representation of policy comes to the representation of users' competencies, and allowing for differing proficiency and gradient ranking of ability, as well as gradience in the expectations the policy makes of the citizenry, the better the `fit' of the policy to the linguistic reality, and the less tension there will be between the two.Singapore's bilingual education policy recognizes that different proficiencies in English and mother tongue are natural, and requires less bilingual proficiency from those who will leave school at an early age than those who take Cambridge A-level exams. That is, if users have diglossic or triglossic repertoires, a policy that takes these into account and legitimizes the status of these varieties will be more congruent with the reality than one that ignores these repertoires. As we have already noted, except for polities such as Luxembourg and Malta, few policies ever explicitly mirror the multiglossic reality; in particular, few policies ever take any cognizance of the existence of L-variety language, let alone establish guarantees of its domains and registers.In Singapore, e.g., there is little or no recognition of the proficiency that Singaporeans have in Chinese dialects (Hokkien, Hakka, Teochew, Cantonese), spoken Tamil, and other languages, despite the official use of exonormic Mandarin, RP English, Literary Tamil, and standard Bahasa Malayu. In fact the educational system sees these mother-tongues as a problem that needs to be eradicated, rather than a resource.
If one were to try to establish a typology of policies, one might begin with a catalogue of the types of `fit' or congruence (or lack of them) between the policy and the sociolinguistic reality. That is, a list might look like the following:
In terms of how these policies might be then symbolized, let us continue with the concentric-circle model, keeping policies distinct from realities. To represent language policy in India and how it lines up with the reality of the repertoires of many of its citizens, I propose the model shown in Fig. 2.6.
Another situation, illustrated in Fig. 2.7, shows that lack of fit between Swiss language policy and sociolinguistic reality. In the Swiss Federal Constitution of 1874 (revised to 1953), § 116 specifies what languages are official and national:
German, French, Italian and Romanche are the national languages of Switzerland.
German, French and Italian shall be deemed the official languages of the Confederation (Hughes 1954:128).The German text is as follows:
Das Deutsche, Französische, Italienische und Rätoromanische sind die Nationalsprachen der Schweiz.
Als Amtssprachen des Bundes werden das Deutsche, Französische und Italienische erklärt.
This is the text of the constitution that refers to language, in its entirety. From this statement it is in fact difficult to make any kind of symbolization that recognizes either registers or repertoires, except to distinguish between `official' and `national', but I would propose either separate circles or one circle segmented into four, with the outer circle adjacent to Romansch left blank.In actuality, this blank is filled by `German', since that is the reality (though not the policy) in the Romansch-speaking areas.
Neither of these symbolizations reflects the reality of language use or of the repertoires of language users in Switzerland---it fails to recognize the extensive domains of Schwyzertüütsch and the very restricted domains of Schriftdeutsch among `German' Swiss; it overlooks the fact that Italian has few if any domains at the Federal level, and it ignores the extensive extended (Fishman 1967) diglossic relationship between Romansch and German (of various varieties). One must look to cantonal regulations (Falch 1973:37-40) to see what local conditions (policies) are imposed on language; this is in fact a problem in many federated polities---in India, in Switzerland, and in the former Soviet Union the federal policies are explicit to varying degrees, but what happens at local levels, e.g. in various States of India, Soviet Republics, or Swiss cantons often is (or was) severely at variance with federal stipulations. In India, for example, there are few guarantees of linguistic minority rights at the State level---in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra, the rights of various linguistic minorities (e.g. Telugus in Tamil Nadu, Tamils and Marathis in Karnataka, and Gujaratis in Maharashtra) are rather tenuous, and groups that are quick to protest linguistic chauvinism at the federal level are themselves guilty of it at the state or local level. In Switzerland the territorial principle is guaranteed to the letter, so French-speakers in a German-Swiss canton have in fact no rights except to L-variety use chez soi.
Figure: Language policy in Switzerland.
Further examples of the disparity between policy and sociolinguistic reality could be adduced, but my point is not to catalogue all the major types, only to show the disparities. My proposal is to use a symbolization scheme that
Obviously, no diagram and no description can take into account all the factors that enter into the decision-making that results in the variety of language policies that could possible be enumerated, nor can all the even larger variety of multilinguistic situations known to us be easily catalogued. In the post-colonial era following the end of World War II, when attention first turned to the language policies of many newly-independent nations, the idea of using the taxonomy, a symbolic classificatory system known to anthropologists, seemed appropriate. Policy-planners and language planners wished to know how their country compared with others, and how to develop a policy that fit their own circumstances. But in the ensuing period, priorities have perhaps changed. There is more of a concern with dynamic systems and a recognition of the fluidity of categories. The Soviet Union, long a model for other multilingual polities, has collapsed and its much vaunted language policy seems to have been less successful (and less tolerant) than it once appeared. Concerns with pragmatics have turned our attention to such issues as what language is used for and who uses what in what situation. Ideally, symbolizations of policy and symbolizations of multilingualism should always be paired, so that the `fit' of the policy to the observable sociolinguistic reality can always be seen clearly. And since the boundaries between languages (and their dialects) are often permeable, and because proficiency in them is variable, we will never be able to provide neat pigeon-holes for everything. This may not make language-policy makers happy, but perhaps in the meantime language policy-makers have come to accept that language policy cannot be handed down from above.