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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'The inescapable relevance of actual behaviour': English and equity in multilingual societies
Author:Ridge, StanleyISNI
Periodical:The English Academy Review (ISSN 1753-5360)
Geographic terms:Nigeria
South Africa
Subjects:literary criticism
English language
language usage
Abstract:This article argues for sustaining a tension between fixed and dynamic views of language in the policy arena: between a valuable striving for order and a clear-sighted openness to actual behaviour and what it portends. Three contextualized instances of language behaviour in multilingual situations are explored, using examples in literature, to suggest the range of strategies which may inform actual behaviour. A fundamental distinction is that while languages may be legally equal, with important implications for institutional practice, they are never socially or culturally equal. Their status in any society is keyed to the specific ways and specific realities of that society and to the range of contexts within which they may be used. This theme is pursued in relation to arguments from Nigeria and Singapore and to a substantial body of work on multilingualism undertaken in Flanders. Finally, the story of Sipho, based on several actual cases, highlights some of the complex social factors shaping language needs and choice in contemporary South Africa. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract]