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Auteur: Teresa MCCARTY

Language Rights in Indigenous America: Perspectives from the New Language Policy Studies

Abstract/Résumé: The New Language Policy Studies represents a view of language policy not as disembodied text but as a situated sociocultural process: “the complex of practices, ideologies, attitudes, and formal and informal mechanisms that influence people’s language choices in profound and pervasive, everyday ways” (McCarty, 2011, p. xii). This approach is rooted in Dell Hymes’s emphasis on studies of language in use, and by new anthropological conceptions of policy as a “practice of power” (Levinson et al., 2009; Shore & Wright, 1997). From this perspective, language policy is understood as de jure and de facto, overt and covert, top-down and bottom-up (Hornberger & McCarty, 2012). Hymes’s notion of ethnographic monitoring is central to this framework, not as an adjunct to traditional analyses of policy-as-text, but as the core epistemic, theoretical, and value position from which language policy is understood (McCarty, Collins, & Hopson, 2012). This presentation applies this approach to a consideration of language rights in Native North America, focusing on critical, comparative ethnographic research with youth and communities in dynamic contexts of language shift. The research explores linguistic practices and ecologies characterized by hybridity and heteroglossia – qualities, this paper argues, that can be (and are being) reconstructed as sociolinguistic resources in community-driven language reclamation. The paper concludes with the implications of the New Language Policy Studies for understanding and promoting Indigenous linguistic self-determination, sovereignty, and rights.