In the Face of National Crises: The transformation of discourse, language form, and official policy

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation at conference/workshop/seminar


Scholars of language policy have long recognised the processual dynamism of the object of their study (e.g. Cooper, 1990). Despite attributing this processual dynamism to factors delineated as individual, social and political, there is insufficient attention drawn to the confluence of these factors in observable expressions of language policy, and a lack of theorising with respect to the political in particular. With the conflation of language problems and political problems being the point of departure, the present panel draws together recent research into the relationship between language and the state as well as language and the nation. The panellists investigate changes to language vis-à-vis development in politics with a common focus upon national crises. As events which call into question the very raison d'être of political order, national crises are conceptualised as occasions when sociolinguistic transformation emerges, and when language policy comes into being. Across different nation-state configurations, the panellists explore the contestation between state and non-state actors in language policy, paying close attention to the transformative effects of language policy’s own discursive dimensions (cf. Williams, 1996). Thus discursively examining language policy together with nationhood and statehood, the panellists have in effect recast language-political problems as inter-national problems played out across national borders and within geopolitical processes. The panel reveals the myriad of ways in which language forms, language ideologies and language practices are thus challenged in relation to the resettlement of earthquake victims in Mainland China, the 2014 Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, the 2019 anti-extradition protests of Hong Kong, the protect-ethnic reservation movement in Nepal, and multilingualism in political advertising in post-apartheid South Africa.
Event titleSociolinguistics Symposium 23
Event typeConference
LocationHong Kong, Hong KongShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational