McDonnell Douglas FA-18 Hornet by Mike Spick

By Mike Spick

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After all, democratic and justice sentiments are all very well, but they are not necessarily going to increase one’s standard of living, or provide a useful, upwardly mobile education for one’s children. Indeed, opponents of minority language rights have gone so far as to argue that to opt for an education in a minority language in the face of this critique is a sign of irresponsible parenthood, even a form of ‘child abuse’. This is 42 Stephen May perhaps best exemplified in a 1995 court case in Amarillo, Texas where a judge ordered a mother not to speak Spanish to her child at home on these very grounds: If she starts [school] with the other children and cannot even speak the language that the teachers and others speak, and she’s a full-blooded American citizen, you’re abusing that child ...

Minority languages within nations are often denied legitimization when they are seen as threatening or too expensive to uphold – as in the case of the English-Only movement in the USA and the denial of minority language rights in France. As Wright demonstrates, multilingualism in the EU is becoming unmanageable. The plurilingual policies on which the political structure was founded have broken down in practice as the number of member state languages has grown, so that it is now increasingly impractical to provide the translation and interpretation to and from all the languages that would enable their speakers to operate on an equal institutional footing.

Meanwhile, for majority languages, the identity characteristics of the language are clearly important for their speakers, but often become subsumed within and normalized by the instrumental functions that these languages fulfil. This is particularly apparent with respect to monolingual speakers of English, given the position of English as the current world language.

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