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Typological research of language ideologies

Typological research of Language Ideologies in the Baltic, Balkans and Nordic Regions

VUK VUKOTIČDoctoral student, Department of Sociolinguistics

Language has been a subject to ideologization for a long period of time, and many factors such as local history, internal politics, foreign policies, language standardization, culture etc. have shaped these ideologies. Being a growingly important issue in today´s world, language is often discussed in the public sphere: With internet (the virtual sphere), we see users much more engaged in discussions about language today than ever before. Depending on the country and region, these discussions vary in theme and tone, and we see very different ideologies and attitudes expressed. The online environment is, thus, as a good area for conducting a wider typological research on language ideologies. Studies so far have shown how certain factors such as schools, law, economic regulations produce and disseminate language ideologies, and recent wider studies attempt to show, from a materialistic point of view, how ideas about linguistic practices are produced and circulated.

In different linguistic environments, areas and states different ideas about language are circulated by these institutions, the large number of countries included in this project is so that these ideologies could be compared and a typology of language ideologies presented as a final result. Some of the main issues that differentiate language ideologies by area are, for example, that some linguistically-oriented, some society-oriented (it can be connected to debates from “true/pure” national language or standard, to colonialism, or on another level, questions such as which linguistic features should be are accented and, thus, ideologized etc.). It is therefore interesting to see which features of language are idealized, what external concepts are they connected with, and how does that reflect upon the general culture in a given environment.

Aims and goals

The project will aim to develop and typologically-based analysis model for researching language ideologies, based on online discussions and the users’ attitudes towards standard language, language planning, language instruction and corrective practices, official language policies, role of language and official language ideology.

Goal of the project is to analyse and compare language ideologies one three levels: grassroots ideologies, then those of experts linguists and non-linguists, as well as language ideologies in the state system of laws and policies, all in three European regions: the Baltics (in this case Lithuania and Latvia), the Balkans (in this case limited to Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia) and Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway and Sweden, to a certain extent also Island and Faroe Islands).

Finally, using these results, the final goal will be to produce a typology of language ideologies in the given lands and regions. These three politically, economically and historically different regions were chosen for comparative purposes – so that the analysis would produce more ideologies, as many different attitudes as possible, that could be categorized and compared. The project results will be beneficial to researchers who wish to study language attitudes and sociology of language since it aims to create a new methodological tool for analysing the way language users shape their attitudes towards the standard language, language planning and language policies.


The methods for researching them will include a detailed qualitative analysis of official documents on language planning and standard, of experts’ (linguists’) and non-linguist expets’ (writers, journalists, actors…) texts and interviews on the subject in the media, and of metalinguistic user-created content online, in order to find the different notions of good language, detect possible explanations for them (historical, juridical, grammatical, etc.). 

The population for the literature analysis is drawn from scientific databases with the criteria that the subject concerns development of the (standard) language, language planning, language policies or linguistic norms in Bosnia, Croatia, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and Sweden. The population for the qualitative analysis of user-created metalinguistic content will be collected from various online sources of meta-linguistic comments and then appropriately sampled. The population will include all the debates about language in the period of two years, from 2012 until 2014. The sources will include: threads on forums, blogs and microblogs of non-experts discussing language issues, as well as comments under the blogs, blogs and/or newspaper articles of language experts, politicians, other scientist and scholars, analysts and language planners who give their own views on language, language ideologies and standard language, as well as the comments under them, comment/discussion sections of news portals. Depending on the population gathered, another possibility will be to extend or shorten the time frame, in accordance with how long a certain topic was discussed, since variation is expected from one country to the other. The project study will not be longitudinal, as it is primarily qualitative, and due to realistic circumstances (in Serbia, Bosnia, Latvia internet use is still in expansion, and only a few years ago, much fewer people had access to the virtual sphere).