Sedyl - Structure et Dynamique des Langues - UMR8202 - CELIA

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Séminaire doctoral - Pratiques langagières - terrains, méthodes, théories
Animé par I. Léglise et V. Muni Toke
Villejuif - Bât.D - S.511 - 14h00-17h30

James Costa (Université Paris 3)
Régimes linguistiques et organisation sociale des idéologies du langage en Ecosse

This talk is interested in exploring the concept of ‘regimes’ of language, in connection with the more familiar notion of language ideologies. Language ideologies have attracted much attention in the past couple of decades (e.g. Bauman & Briggs, 2003; Schieffelin, Woolard, & Kroskrity, 1998; Silverstein, 1979; Taylor & Joseph, 1990). As an analytical category, ‘linguistic ideology’ has benefited from much definitional work (Kroskrity, 2000; Woolard & Schieffelin,1994) and has become an essential (albeit perhaps overused) tool for linguistic anthropologists. Regimes of language, on the other hand, are regularly summoned but have attracted little conceptual work. In his introduction to the volume entitled Regimes of Language, Kroskrity links the term regime with ‘the display of political domination in all its many forms’ (2000, p. 3), and states that ‘regimes of language […] promised to integrate two often segregated domains: politics (without language) and language (without politics).’ Kroskrity subsequently equates regimentation with the controlling of socially dominant discourses (Kroskrity, 2000, pp. 9, 11). More recently Gal wrote of standardization that it is ‘only one kind of language regime (2006, p. 17), linking regimentation with the organization of language ideologies, and echoing Foucault’s (1980) regimes of truth: linguistic regimes are thus somehow connected with ideas of truth and authority. Yet just what they refer to exactly remains unclear: are ‘language regimes’ a mere synonym for ideologies or for the (conscious or unconscious) organization of ideologies? Do they refer to the actual mobilization of power that ideologies generate, or are they a way to appeal to a form of undefined authority regulating linguistic practices? Building on those insights, and drawing on empirical research, this panel wishes to ask whether the study of linguistic regimes may become a way to productively understand and link ideologies, practices and political economy (a program outlined by Heller, 2007, p. 2)? One central question we ask in this panel is thus: how do ideologies make people do things with language? And how are the categories (e.g. accent, dialect,register, patois, language etc.) that ideologies determine turned into resources and organized, by whom and to what effect? Consequently, we understand the notion of regimentation as essentially linked with struggles over power and sovereignty. Regimes are historically and etymologically linked with the authority of a regal figure, the rex, to which Benveniste (1973) ascribes the power to legitimately trace geographic, legal (and hence conceptual) limits. Regimes are fundamentally about access to resources that are ideologically determined and about the social organization of those resources; they are about legitimizing the social division of the world (Bourdieu, 1980). In other words, in this sense regimes are about limits and the establishment of categories, about the practical workings of categories which ideologies help determine. More specifically, I will focus on standardization as a sociolinguistic regime premised on the idea that everyone potentially has equal access to a linguistic standard, and I will analyze how specific social actors mobilize various linguistic categorizations under the present ideological conditions in post-independence referendum Scotland to understand what it entails for whom: in other words, how do people do dialect or language? How are people’s actions constrained and regimented within the social space that the existence of such ideologically bound categories permits, and how are boundaries moved to implement or impede social changes? Based on the analysis of language debates over the desirability of (not) standardizing Scots, I will argue that the regimentation of language is fundamentally about defining and managing the public space and who has access to it, and under which conditions.