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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.

Ed. by Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian

CiteScore 2018: 1.10

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 1.062
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.933

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Volume 2012, Issue 218


The global regime of language recognition

Tomasz Kamusella
Published Online: 2012-11-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2012-0059


There is no universally accepted working linguistic definition of a language; the distinction between a dialect and a language is a political question. On the basis of a discussion of this problem, the article proposes that the ISO 639 family of standards, issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), amounts to the backbone of an emerging global regime of language recognition. This regime is being rapidly coaxed into being by the booming IT industry and by the Internet, both of which require clear-cut and uniform standards on languages and their scripts in order to function efficiently and profitably. A potentially undesirable and divisive foundation of the regulatory regime, stemming from and meeting the distinctive sectoral purposes of the world of Evangelicalism and Bible translation, is a hurdle to be overcome in achieving a universally accepted system of language standards. Despite efforts by other actors, there is no viable secular alternative in prospect, because the religiously-grounded system has an established and substantial “first mover” advantage in the field.

Keywords: Bible translation; global regime; Internet; ISO 639; language recognition; proselytism

About the article

University of St Andrews

Published Online: 2012-11-21

Published in Print: 2012-11-21

Citation Information: , Volume 2012, Issue 218, Pages 59–86, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2012-0059.

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