Problem

Segregation through language


Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Linguistic dis-integration
Linguistic discrimination
Active prejudice against other languages
Prejudicial treatment of linguistic groups
Nature:
Language has great power to create and to draw asunder social groups. In many situations, language is used as a social divider.
Incidence:
In Africa, for example, many States practice discrimination against the languages of their own ethnic groups. In Zaire, for example, with 8 million speakers of Swahili, 6 million of Lingala, 3 million of Kikongo and Ciluba, and only 2.8 million French speakers, French remains the only official language of the country. Leaders of African States thus discriminate against the use of their own languages.

The English-speaking world has long used the pronunciation of English as a very sharp divider of social classes. Margaret Thatcher is reputed to have had diction training in the hope that her middle-class pronunciation might reach the heights to which her ambition aspired. Japanese is an extreme example of language that is different not only in content but in syntax and grammar when spoken by a male or a female. Japanese language alters in its terms of self-reference and address, its sentence particles, its verb forms and its interjections, for males, for females and for children. Many societies align their cultural, political and/or economic divisions with language divisions.

Related Problems:
Bilingual education
Pet names
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
09.02.1997 – 00:00 CET
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