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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.

Ed. by Garcia Otheguy, Ofelia

6 Issues per year

CiteScore 2016: 0.53

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.505
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.716

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Volume 2010, Issue 206 (Jan 2010)


A critical commentary on the discourse of language rights in the Naivasha language policy in Sudan using habitus as a method

Ashraf Abdelhay
Published Online: 2010-12-22 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl.2010.047


This article uses Bourdieu's theory of practice to discuss the discourse of language rights in the Naivasha language policy in Sudan. The article argues that understanding language as a form of practice inseparable from the whole class habitus leads to the avoidance of any monothetic and totalizing discourses that treat language as a self-sufficient code. Instead, it argues for a recognition of the temporality and multidirectionality of language framed in a broad (critical) ethnographic sense. It contends that the statement of language rights in the Naivasha language policy cannot sanctify local languages as media of education unless it addresses the possibilities of creating the economic and social conditions for their use. It is these historical conditions that provide a value to the linguistic habitus of the subjugated groups in the Sudan. The endeavor invites a rethinking of the relationship in language rights campaigns between the academic habitus of linguists and the practical habitus of members of communities. The article concludes by arguing that any technical linguistic activities under the banner of Naivasha language policy that are not informed by the practicalities of everyday life are alienating; hence, they remain reproductive of the existing unequal power relations.

Keywords:: language rights; postcolonial language policy; symbolic power; habitus; Sudan; Arabicization

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Published Online: 2010-12-22

Published in Print: 2010-11-01

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl.2010.047.

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