LHR Paradigm

Report
The Linguistic Human
Rights paradigm (LHR)
LG474 notes
Language Rights
Peter L Patrick
Univ of Essex
Terminology
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“LHR” is a term widely identified since 1980s w/a
certain school or approach to language rights
• Best-known exemplar: Tove Skutnabb-Kangas
• Others: Eduardo Hernández-Chávez, Miklós
Kontra, Stephen May, Robert Phillipson, etc.
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I use LHR to refer to this position, as is common
It has attracted critics in recent years:
• Eg Jan Blommaert, Monica Heller, Alastair
Pennycook, J Freeland & D Patrick book etc.
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I’ll use Language Rights/LR as neutral/inclusive
Development of Human Rights
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Negative rights: equal protection of laws, national selfdetermination, freedom of speech/opinion & from tyranny
•
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Move towards positive rights: protection of minorities,
freedom from discrimination, educational & economic
rights, maintenance of identity, full civic participation
•
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Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Charter (1940s)
Conventions on.. Discrimination, Civil & Political Rights (1960s)
Decentralisation, special measures for endangered groups
•
Rights of Child, Oslo Recommendns, Indigenous Peoples (1989+)
Civil rights/national context > Universal HR/global context
Development of Language Rights
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Language as one basis for fundamental freedoms:
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“w/o distinction as to race, sex, language or religion” etc
Non-discrimination but w/o interest in language rights per se
Language as instrumental to delivery of other rights:
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Be informed of charges, have interpreter assistance (CCPR)
Language as inalienable community/cultural property
•
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Linguistic minorities’ rights to use their own language (CCPR)
Right to take part in cultural life (ESCR), respect for child’s
language and identity (CRC), detailed minority LRs
Language rights that are explicitly
recognized in international law
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Legal positivism: HRs are what the laws say they are
Those recognized in international treaties which are
legal instruments, such as:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,
International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights,
UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to
National, Ethnic, Religious &Linguistic Minorities
European Convention on Rights of National Minorities
Language rights explicitly
recognized in national law
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Provisions related to language in national constitutions
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use of a language the individual understands in relation to
arrest, detention, and criminal charges (Jamaica 1962)
declaration of national languages, official languages and
territorially-limited official languages
(eg Malaysia 1957: Malay, Malay/English, any native
language in current use in the state of Sabah or Sarawak)
equality before the law w/o discrimination due to language
(eg Iraq 1970 Interim Constitution)
legislate multilingualism in balanced/equitable fashion (eg
South Africa 1994)
Basic patterns of language rights
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UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and
Protection of Minorities (1967) found 4 basic patterns
1. All the languages spoken by the main linguistic groups are
given official status.
•
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Switzerland; Belgium; Singapore (Diglossia)
2. Some minority languages designated official languages
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Canada, Finland, New Zealand, Israel
Quebec passed restrictive legislation to protect French, but
Charter of the French Language was found to infringe on freedom
of expression and struck down (Del Valle 2003 338-9)
CSC did suggest that instead of exclusive use of French,
requiring bilingualism would be constitutional
Basic patterns of language rights II
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3. Some minority languages are granted official status but
only at a regional level.
•
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4. Minority languages are refused official status, but their
status is protected in part via constitutions, treaties,
national legislation
•
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Exs: Italy, Nigeria, Austria, Ghana, Iraq (Kurdish)
USA, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Denmark, Bulgaria, Sri Lanka
A 5th case not noted by the UN Sub-Commission, where
majority languages are not recognised as languages:
•
Ex: Jamaican Creole – constitution recognises minimal guarantees
in context of criminal prosecution – de facto not available in Creole
HR: Law or Morality?
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So, some Human Rights are already embodied in these
international legal instruments – ‘the law’ as it is
Other HRs are ‘aspirational’ or ‘normative’ – not part of
law now, but ‘what should be’ – what people are justly
entitled to, or governments should (not) do
Law carries greater weight than morality, but it is also
intended to be normative – to express ‘what should be’ –
a society’s view, at a point in history
Many so-called language rights are not (yet) legally
guaranteed, but merely aspirational (at present)
They may be(come) accepted as norms against which
legal situations & policies can be evaluated
Rights that are NOT guaranteed
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non-legally-binding international/NGO-authored documents:
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the Hague Recommendations Regarding the Educational Rights of
National Minorities
intends to influence existing legal standards & recommends specific
state practices in area of minority language education
the 1996 Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights
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“aims to encourage the creation of a political framework for linguistic
diversity based on respect, harmonious coexistence mutual benefit”
urges the UN to set up legal and consultative bodies
Some areas remain unclear
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General problem: do minority language speakers have
rights to use their ML in public functions? Eg schools
Do states have an obligation to provide public services,
benefits and privileges in minority languages?
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some legal experts say only national minorities have such rights
some believe it is an emerging standard, and
others believe it is well-established in international law.
See constitutions of PR China, Art. 134; Estonia, Art. 51-2
Weaker view: only states which are signed up to legallybinding treaties are obliged to recognize such rights.
 (de Varennes)
Individual vs Collective Rights, I
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Classic liberalism is universalist: no idea of
person as culturally located, no private identity
Personal autonomy always comes before group
•
Problem: Language can only be maintained in groups
Communitarianism: Language is a communal
good by nature, integral to individual identity
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Justice b/w groups requires groups to hold diff. rights
Problems: What constitutes a group? Fluidity of identity
(also key problems for the Speech Community concept)
Individual vs Collective Rights, II
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L(H)Rs often contested, poorly implemented
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Tolerance-oriented LRs (Kloss 1977): non-interference by state
in private domain; widely accepted (see also Schiffman 1996, www)
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Political theory= sceptical of LRs as collective Rs
Still an issue for Kurds in Turkey, in Tibet, etc.
Tolerance requires political will, is often unofficial, can expire
Promotion-oriented LRs: use by minority in public
Group-differentiated LRs (Kymlicka): vested in individual but
don’t privilege group over individual
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Canada: indiv. right to use French; Quebecois group right to
preserve/promote French in face of English dominance
Shift under pressure (eg Irish  Eng) makes this a problem
The Universal Declaration
of Linguistic Rights
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UDLR has clear exs. of aspirational LHRs:
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www.linguistic-declaration.org/index-gb.htm
Art. 3.2 calls for “equitable presence” in mass media
Art. 8 calls for resources to ensure lang. maintenance
Art. 17 calls for translation of all official documents
But some are widely established legal rights:
•
Art.20 Right to trial interpreting in one’s own language
UDLR was presented to UNESCO in 1996 w/the
aim of leading to a UN International Convention
•
This has not happened (yet) and may not
UDLR as communitarian LHR?
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Liberal view vests rights w/the individual,
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UDLR supports collective LRs of language communities in
harmony w/individual rights:
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Protects individual against domination by collective,
Supports democracy to integrate the two justly.
Languages are constituted within communities, and that’s where
individual use of them occurs.
LRs must be provided collectively, then, in order that individuals
can choose to exercise them.
LHR seeks to have some LRs recognized as universal HRs
(as in UDLR) & applied to evaluate real cases of law & policy.
LHR seeks to identify equitable conditions for languages &
speakers, and to turn them into linguistic human rights
protected by international law.
Are LHRs universal?, I
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“Linguistic human rights” (LHR) points to
language rights as a subset of broader HR
Also, universal rights in which all humans
participate – to caricature the position:
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“Socrates is human, All humans have HR, All humans
have language, Therefore Socrates has linguistic
human rights?”
Some language rights aren’t LHRs, however:
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Right to study ‘foreign’ language in higher education
Neither universal nor essential, hence not LHR
Hence LHRs require selection & prioritization
Are LHRs universal?, II
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Why aren’t majority’s LRs specified/guaranteed? because it’s
assumed they have & exercise them already (Kontra 2007)
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This assumption is vulnerable: they may be lost ‘at home’.
If only minority LRs are law/policy, can majority ever be
adequately motivated to support/enforce them? Political will
Majorities ‘at home’ may be (national) minorities ‘abroad’:
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Spanish in USA, French in Canada, Russian in Latvia
Thus all groups have interest in guaranteeing all LRs
Until it goes beyond the minority, they’re not (universal) LHRs.
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You need LHRs to keep your language repertoire ‘not-a-problem’
You need to exercise LHRs to make your repertoire a resource.
Positive v negative rights
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Classic HR rights/freedoms are often ‘negative’
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A minimal requirement for LHRs is thus: “Don’t
discriminate against linguistic minorities.”
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Govt must not torture, must allow freedom of speech,
religion, assembly, access to legal system etc.
Protection from state is response to mid-20C fascism
This is part of the tolerance-oriented LR approach
However, non-discrimination often insufficient
to provide equality, so ‘negative’ LRs are not
enough – further action is required of states.
Case for Positive Rights
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Language rights require interaction in public
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Linguistic vitality entails maintenance in many domains of
language use, incl. public ones
Language loss may occur even w/o discrimination
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Shrinking domains, speaker numbers lead to context
where individual rights (requiring interaction) are lost
States can obviously influence many public domains
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Ensure viable use in mass media/court/political debate
∴ state must promote ‘positive’ language rights:
Positive rights require the state to take action.
‘Three Pillars’ of LRs
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If negative rights – the ‘first pillar’ of LRs – are
rooted in the freedom from discrimination, then
Positive rights – the ‘second pillar’ – are ‘rooted
in the principle of substantive equality’ (Grin 2003)
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In different contexts, differential treatment is needed
External protection promotes fairness: minorities, too,
can now choose to maintain their language/culture
The ‘third pillar’ is effective policy & planning:
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Not enough for state to take action – it must succeed
Speakers’ motivation must be understood & engaged
Problem – Resource – Right
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In many folk views, and centres of policy/power (both
are influenced by language ideologies), minority
language/diversity is often seen as a problem to be
solved (eg using LPP)
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due to fear of desire for political autonomy by minority group
Socio/applied linguists look at language diversity as
cultural/economic resources for speakers.
LHR view: language-as-a-right is a positive approach
to minority (self-)empowerment.
Rights view is held to be compatible w/resources
Both are opposed to language-as-problem view
Case: Refugee ESL classes in US
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Asylum seekers: from 1975-91, about 900,000
refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos arrive
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Federal policy: integration / assimilation
Processing centres: Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia
SE Asian refugees get 6 months English classes
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Also cultural orientation, and pre-employment skills (job
interviews, filling out applications)
In the US, they’re given refugee ESL classes
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180 hours supported with federal funds
Refugee ESL classes in USA, II
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Office of Refugee Resettlement policy (1984):
• aim of classes must be to focus on ‘survival English’
• track refugees into entry-level jobs
Materials prepared by the Office of Refugee Resettlement:
• “What do you say to your supervisor when you make a
mistake?” “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.”
• Students punch a time clock as they enter class
• “Company rules” are posted in the classroom:
• “Work quickly & accurately - don’t waste time &
materials”
• Teacher acts as supervisor
Refugee ESL classes in USA, III
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Class time simply not enough to master English
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Many refugees are already well educated – but they
have no chance for a better job.
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Even with better materials and motivation, etc.
Told to “Learn English on the job” – impossible
English Language Amendment movement said to encourage
immigrants to integrate?! (confused with assimilation)
Provision of language as a right? Resource?
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For whose benefit: individual refugees? The US state/economy?
Substantive equality? Effective policy/planning?
Language Minorities
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Problem: the resource view typically focuses on
language groups and their communal needs,
• I.e. on language minorities. Definition:
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“A group numerically inferior to the rest of the population of
a state, in a non-dominant position, whose members –
being nationals of the state – possess ethnic, religious or
linguistic characteristics differing from those of the rest of
the population and show… a sense of solidarity, directed
towards preserving their culture, traditions, religion or
language.”
• (F. Capotorti 1991, definition developed for the UN)
Regional or Minority Languages
(RMLs)
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“Languages traditionally used within a given territory of a
state, by nationals of that state who form a group
numerically smaller than the rest of the state’s
population; & different from the official language(s) of
that state.” (European Charter for RMLs)
Definition excludes dialects of official language(s) as well
as languages of migrants.
Some states do not recognize any minorities of any kind
•
E.g. France; Turkey; Greece
…but some MLs (Romany, Sign Languages, Yiddish)
are not regionally distributed. These are classes as ‘nonterritorial languages’ under the ECRML. (Grin 2003)
LHR Rhetoric, I
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Christina Bratt Paulston characterizes LHR:
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“exhortatory and ideologically based studies in which
language rights are considered a causal variable”, and
points out that its aim is to produce “social change or
future developments”.
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She contrasts (1997) this with
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atheoretical historical and descriptive accounts with LRs
treated as a dependent variable (ie an outcome).
To this end, LHR scholars & activists use a number of
strong and vivid terms to describe language situations.
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LHR Rhetoric, II
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Some critics question whether this rhetoric uses
too-strong labels to describe harmful contexts –
the drama it lends to the subject matter bothers
some people.
LHR scholars & activists might reply
(a) Their terms refer truly to charged situations,
and (b) It’s necessary to persuade non-linguists
by using compelling language.
Let’s look at definitions of some key terms
LHR concepts: Linguicism
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But just how extreme is this rhetoric?
Linguicism is defined parallel to racism:
“Ideologies, structures, and practices which
are used to legitimate, effectuate, regulate,
and reproduce an unequal division of power
and resources (both material and immaterial)
between groups which are defined on the
basis of language.”
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(Skutnabb-Kangas 1988)
LHR concepts:
Linguistic genocide
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“prohibiting the use of the language of the
group in daily intercourse or in schools, or the
printing and circulation of publications in the
language of the group”
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Article III(1) of final draft of what became Convention
on the Prevention & Punishment of the Crime of
Genocide (E794, 1948)
Art.III voted down – NOT part of final convention – but
definition agreed by then-UN members, so definition
itself valid
Skutnabb-Kangas
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Direct and indirect prohibition
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If indigenous or minority children are hit, or left without food, or
have their mouth washed out when they speak their own
language, its use has been prohibited.
If a child is made to feel ashamed of her language so that she
stops using it in daily intercourse, its use has been prohibited.
If libraries or publishers discriminate against literature in
indigenous or minority languages, publication and distribution of
publications in these languages is indirectly prohibited.
If there are no minority teachers in the school, and the minority
language is not used as the main medium of education and
childcare, then the child is indirectly prohibited from using the
minority language in daily intercourse or in school.
Five definitions of genocide
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Article 2 was adopted by the Geneva Convention:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to
members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of
life calculated to bring about its physical destruction
in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births
within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to
another group
How does linguistic genocide happen?
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Education thru the medium of a 2nd dominant language
which leads to first displacement and then replacement of
mother tongue, can cause serious mental harm to a child.
It can prevent optimal participation in further education, the
labour market and democratic participation in decisions
Forcible assimilation and transfer to the majority group, eg:
Canadian Innu & Inuit pupils taught by English submersion
Deaf students taught by oral assimilationist methods
Finnish-immigrant minority members in Sweden
References
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Del Valle, Sandra. 2003. Language rights and the law in the United States. Clevedon:
Multilingual Matters.
De Varennes, F. 2001. A Guide to the Rights of Minorities & Language. COLPI Paper
4. Budapest: Constitutional &Legal Policy Initiative. www.osi.hu/colpi/files/COLPI4.pdf
De Varennes, F. 1996. Language, Minorities and Human Rights. The Hague: M Nijhoff
Kloss, Heinz. 1977. The American bilingual tradition. Rowley MA: Newbury House.
Kontra, Miklos. 2007. A Human Rights approach to minority language rights. In:
Szalma, József, ed., Zbornik Radova Naučni skup s međunarodnim učešćem Jezik,
obrazovanje, nauka, kultura, zaštita ljudskih i manjinskih prava u Vojvodini i zemljama
u tranziciji, 80–93. Novi Sad: Vojvodanska akademija nauka i umetnosti.
MOST Clearinghouse on Linguistic Rights. www.unesco.org/most/ln2nat.htm
Paulston, C Bratt. 1997. Language policies and language rights. In C Bratt Paulston &
R Tucker, eds., 2003. Sociolinguistics: The Essential Readings. Blackwell: 472-482.
Report of the Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of
Minorities on its 20th session (1967). UN ESCOR, 23rd session.
Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove. 2000. Linguistic genocide in education - or worldwide
diversity and human rights? Mahwah, NJ & London, UK: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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