Center for the Study of Language and Society

Pride and Prejudice: Discourse on Language and Early Nationalism

Thursday, 2019/03/28, 16:15


The Forum Language and Society is a series of guest lectures on sociolinguistic topics. Doctoral students of the GSH are credited with 0.25 ECTS per guest lecture attendance. CSLS MA students are credited with 1 ECTS after visiting 6 guest lectures.

Event organizer: Forum Language and Society
Speaker: Gabriella Mazzon (Universität Innsbruck)
Date: 2019/03/28
Time: 16:15 - 17:45
Locality: 115
Hauptgebäude
Hochschulstrasse 4
3012 Bern
Characteristics: open to the public
free of charge

The process of standardization is based on the spread and acceptance of ideologies tending to motivate the selection of a variety to the exclusion of others. Discourse contributing to the process (whether coming from administrators, educators, or literary writers) tends therefore to establish these ideologies by creating a “pedigree” for the standard and at the same time obscuring variation and detracting from other varieties. This involves the construction of categories and the establishing of boundaries between varieties, using concepts such as “purity”, “antiquity”, “beauty” etc. In the British Isles, this stage corresponded to several historical stages. 

The talk will start with some considerations on what traces (if any) of “linguistic nationalism” can be found prior to the Renaissance. Next, the stage of early colonization will be mentioned as it was a moment in which such arguments were developed even before the establishment of a standard. With a stronger monarchy slowly establishing a naval power, the new explorations overseas, the gradual annexation of the “Celtic areas”, and the increased internal stratification of society, 17th- and 18th-century Britain was an ideal terrain for the development of such ideologies – we will analyse some crucial aspects of these constructions in the discourse of grammarians, intellectuals, and authors such as Swift and Defoe, who used several text-types and rhetorical schemata to convey concepts related to language ideology, language policy and language attitudes.