The rights of internal linguistic minorities

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

14 Scopus citations


Considerable attention has been devoted to theorizing the rights of minority cultures in recent years. Political theorists have developed accounts of the normative questions raised by issues of race, immigration, nationalism, indigenous peoples and religion. After a period of neglect, theorists are now starting to turn their attention to the normative issues posed by another form of diversity: linguistic diversity. The past few years have seen the publication of a number of accounts of the implications of normative principles of equality, autonomy and democracy for language policy. Although normative theorizing about language rights is still in its infancy, it is becoming possible to make out the main positions. The debate over language rights typically pits “nation-builders,” who emphasize the goods that can be realized by diffusing a single language and culture throughout the state, against “language maintainers,” who stress the value of preserving vulnerable languages and language communities. The nation-builders are, at best, indifferent to minority language rights, and often argue against them on the grounds that they discourage state-wide linguistic convergence. They may allow a “norm-and-accommodation” regime of language rights that permits certain transitional accommodations for people with limited proficiency in the normal state or “national” language. But they typically oppose “official” language rights – that is, rights that minority-language speakers might enjoy to the public use of their language (e.g. in the delivery of public services, in the public schools, etc.) even when they are perfectly fluent in the majority language that would otherwise be used in public settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMinorities within Minorities
Subtitle of host publicationEquality, Rights and Diversity
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780511490224
ISBN (Print)0521843146, 9780521843140
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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