The Role of Language in Multi-lingual societies

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Member since July 12, 2014
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Photo Courtesy: UNICEF

Photo Courtesy: UNICEF

Language is the lifeblood of politics, political power struggles, and the legitimization of political policies and authorities occurs primarily through discourse and verbal representations. Political language, Barsamian (1992:7) points out that “The Language of Politics conveys both the linguistic meaning of what is said and the corpus, or a part of it, of the political beliefs underpinning any given statement. Largely unable, and hopefully unwilling, to coerce; political authorities in so-called democratic polities often need to manufacture consent in order to undertake their agendas”. While this most obviously concerns relations between a government and its wider public, “this process has profound effects on the workings inside governments and is an important aspect of socialization into governmental work cultures” fishman (1986:785).

Therefore, in order to improve upon and facilitate for efficiency in politics and government system, there is a great need to illuminate some aspects of the language-politics relationship which in most countries poorly understood at present. This can be done by showing how language is/should be used as a resource by individual politicians and governments, how multilingualism complicates the political life of a nation, and to what extent are monolingual nations immune or less liable to difficulties stemming from language. However, linguistic factors may become additional weapons in the arsenal of elitism. The implication here is that when communication troubles are first seen as political problems, then and only then, is it possible to deal realistically with any technical problems which may stand in the way of effective communication. Hence solving linguistic problems will result in the development of more viable national political systems.

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