Immigration, Security and the Public Sora ya

Immigration, Security and the Public Sora ya
Department of Arts, Communication and Education
Division of Education and Languages
Luleå University of Technology 2011
Soraya Tharani
ISSN: 1402-1544 ISBN 978-91-7439-328-6
Immigration, Security and the Public
Debate on US Language Policy
Immigration, Security and the Public Debate on US Language Policy
A Critical Discourse Analysis of Language Attitudes
in the United States of America
Soraya Tharani
Immigration, Security and the Public Debate on US Language Policy
A Critical Discourse Analysis of Language Attitudes in the United States of America
Soraya Tharani
Department of Arts, Communication and Education
Division of Education and Languages
Doctoral Dissertation
November 2011
Printed by Universitetstryckeriet, Luleå 2011
ISSN: 1402-1544
ISBN 978-91-7439-328-6
Luleå 2011
The narrative of the United States is of a "nation of immigrants" in which the language shift
patterns of earlier ethnolinguistic groups have tended towards linguistic assimilation through
English. In recent years, however, changes in the demographic landscape and language
maintenance by non-English speaking immigrants, particularly Hispanics, have been
perceived as threats and have led to calls for an official English language policy.
This thesis aims to contribute to the study of language policy making from a societal
security perspective as expressed in attitudes regarding language and identity originating in
the daily interaction between language groups. The focus is on the role of language and
American identity in relation to immigration. The study takes an interdisciplinary approach
combining language policy studies, security theory, and critical discourse analysis. The
material consists of articles collected from four newspapers, namely USA Today, The New
York Times, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle between April 2006 and
December 2007.
Two discourse types are evident from the analysis namely Loyalty and Efficiency. The
former is mainly marked by concerns of national identity and contains speech acts of security
related to language shift, choice and English for unity. Immigrants are represented as
dehumanised, and harmful. Immigration is given as sovereignty-related, racial, and as war.
The discourse type of Efficiency is mainly instrumental and contains speech acts of security
related to cost, provision of services, health and safety, and social mobility. Immigrants are
further represented as a labour resource.
These discourse types reflect how the construction of the linguistic 'we' is expected to be
maintained. Loyalty is triggered by arguments that the collective identity is threatened and is
itself used in reproducing the collective 'we' through hegemonic expressions of
monolingualism in the public space and semi-public space. The denigration of immigrants is
used as a tool for enhancing societal security through solidarity and as a possible justification
for the denial of minority rights. Also, although language acquisition patterns still follow the
historical trend of language shift, factors indicating cultural separateness such as the
appearance of speech communities or the use of minority languages in the public space and
semi-public space have led to manifestations of intolerance. Examples of discrimination and
prejudice towards minority groups indicate that the perception of worth of a shared language
differs from the actual worth of dominant language acquisition for integration purposes. The
study further indicates that the efficient working of the free market by using minority
languages to sell services or buy labour is perceived as conflicting with nation-building
notions since it may create separately functioning sub-communities with a new cultural
capital recognised as legitimate competence.
The discourse types mainly represent securitising moves constructing existential threats.
The perception of threat and ideas of national belonging are primarily based on a zero-sum
notion favouring monolingualism. Further, the identity of the immigrant individual is seen as
dynamic and adaptable to assimilationist measures whereas the identity of the state and its
members are perceived as static. Also, the study shows that debates concerning language
status are linked to extra-linguistic matters.
To conclude, policy makers in the US need to consider the relationship between four
factors, namely societal security based on collective identity, individual/human security,
human rights, and a changing linguistic demography, for proposed language intervention
measures to be successful.
Keywords: national identity, societal security, threat, language policy, ethnolinguistic conflict, human
rights, language rights, ethnicity, multilingualism, loyalty, immigration, instrumental, integrative,
critical discourse analysis, language attitudes, representation, English, Spanish, United States.
To Jani
I would like to thank the people that have directly or indirectly contributed to the completion
of this thesis.
First of all I would like to express my gratitude to my supervisor Professor Jean Hudson at
Malmö University for her support through thick and thin. I greatly appreciate her
encouragement and interest in my work. Secondly, many thanks to Professor Emeritus Ulf
Magnusson who was my first supervisor and with whom I had many interesting discussions
on linguistics. I am also grateful to Professor Emeritus Gunnar Persson, who first suggested
that I should consider taking up doctoral studies at Luleå University of Technology. His
passion and enthusiasm sparked my curiosity about sociolinguistics. I would like to thank all
the people that have taken the time to comment on my work in seminars and conferences. A
word of thanks to my former colleagues at Luleå University of Technology and my current
colleagues at Dalarna University for their friendly understanding of the writing process.
A special thanks to my husband Jani for his love, patience and support. Without his
encouragement and belief in me I could never have finished my doctoral thesis. I would like
to thank my sisters for always being there. And to my parents, my deepest thank you for their
love and for teaching me perseverance. Their advice of keeping a sense of humour in the face
of challenges has also made the writing of this thesis a joy.
Table of Contents
1 Introduction
1.1 Aim
1.2 Method and material: An overview
1.3 Outline
2 The United States: A historical background
2.1 Migration
2.2 Constructing the US through language policies
2.2.1 Legislation process
3 Building bricks for societal security
3.1 Race, ethnicity and national Identity
3.1.1 Language and the state
3.1.2 Language and identity construction
3.2 Multiculturalism
3.2.1 The debate on multiculturalism
3.2.2 Renewed views on citizenship
3.2.3 Ideologies of multiculturalism in the US
3.3 Multilingualism
3.3.1 Fragmentation or unification?
3.4 Speech community
3.4.1 Constructions of speech communities
3.5 Loyalty and trust
3.6 Habitus and symbolic domination
3.7 Language shift and language maintenance
3.8 Language conflict and language contact
4 Theoretical and methodological points of departure
4.1 Security studies
4.1.1 Broadening security studies
4.1.2 Societal security
4.1.3 Human security
4.2 Language policy
4.2.1 Language rights
4.2.2 Language policy and security
4.2.3 Insecurity as a motive for language policy making
4.3 Language attitudes
4.3.1 Critical discourse analysis
4.3.2 Fairclough's three-dimensional analytical framework
4.3.3 Hallidayan functional linguistics
5 Method and Material
5.1 Newsworthiness and the official English debate in the US
5.1.1 Newspapers in the US
6 Discourse of immigrant language as a threat to societal security
6.1 Discourse type of Loyalty
6.1.1 Speech act (SA) of Time
6.1.2 SA of Obligation
6.1.3 SA of Willingness
6.1.4 SA of Help
6.1.5 SA of English as Unifier
6.1.6 SA of Immigrants as Criminals
6.1.7 SA of Immigrants as Large Quantities of Water
6.1.8 SA of Immigrants as Harmful
6.1.9 SA of Immigration as a Sovereignty Issue
6.1.10 SA of Immigration Debate as Racial
6.1.11 SA of Immigration Debate as War
6.2 Discourse type of Efficiency
6.2.1 SA of English-Optional Services
6.2.2 SA of Multilingualism as Cost
6.2.3 SA of Health and Safety
6.2.4 SA of Opportunity
6.2.5 SA of Immigrants as a Labour Resource
6.3 Summary of the discourse types of Loyalty and Efficiency
6.4 Societal security and language policies
7 Concluding remarks
1 Introduction
The idea that national unity is achieved through a one nation-one language model is based on
the nineteenth century concept of 'nation', which attempted to join relatively isolated societies.
This view is questioned today since contemporary societies, and on a wider scale, countries,
contain ethnolinguistic groups which are demanding rights to use their language and express
their culture publicly within a state. As a movement, multiculturalism involves, in its essence,
an opposition to the dominant view of monoculturalism associated to the notion of a
monolingual nation. Herder's application of the uniqueness of an individual to the group level,
distinguishing a people, a Volk, with their own culture from other Volk (Taylor 1994a:30-31),
allows for a conceptualisation of multiculturalism with the implication of meetings between
distinct cultures.
Migration and the development of the means of communication in the modern era have led
to an increased contact between different linguistic groups, and consequently, an increased
salience of multilingual situations at a local level. Similarly, technological communication
development has increased interaction between speakers of different mother tongues
separated by geographical distance. A further significant factor, particularly as regards
integration in the general sense of the individual becoming a full member of a community, is
that immigrants can now also maintain contact with their home countries e.g. through frequent
visits as well as via the Internet, TV and radio.
Thus, multilingualism is a part of the everyday life for a large number of the people and
institutions in the world (Phillipson 2003:3). Although the diversity of people within western
countries has led to expressions of cultural hybridity, references to states still use stereotypes
based on a non-existent idea of cultural and linguistic homogeneity (Phillipson 2003:58).
The issue of linguistic diversity has gained significance due to its recognition by societies
containing multilingual groups, an aspect which may become a contributing factor for conflict
between ethnolinguistic groups and thus pose a challenge to the existing state. Using central,
eastern and south-eastern European countries and the role of the Organisation for Security and
Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in helping the regimes in these regions transit into democracy
as an example, Grin and Daftary (2003:xviii) claim that language is a political matter. In the
same way, Patten and Kymlicka also claim that the issue of linguistic diversity entered the
political agenda recently as a consequence of the ethnic conflicts in Eastern Europe, since
many of them resulted in the establishment of linguistic boundaries. After the breakup,
countries that before had documents attributing minority language rights now prioritised
official monolingualism. Thus, language status was among the first laws drawn up by the
independent countries. This tendency resulted in a perception of threat among the affected
linguistic minorities who experienced a loss of status and prestige and who responded through
mobilisations in the form of peaceful protests as well as in violent demands for secession
(Patten and Kymlicka 2003:2-3).
Linguistic conflicts in western and in Eastern Europe have mainly arisen when a
dominating group in the country imposes its language as the language of the state. These
attempts have led to resistance and sometimes stimulated secessionist notions (Patten and
Kymlicka 2003:4). Western organisations responded to the ethnolinguistic conflicts in the
neighbouring eastern countries by drawing up guidelines for best practices of 'good' liberal
democracies and placing these as conditions for entrance into the European Union and
NATO. However, this exercise also revealed linguistic problems within the stable western
countries that drew up the guidelines, and therefore also serve as recommendations for the
same. Examples of the documents that were written to deal with ethnolinguistic diversity are
the 1992 European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the 1995 Framework
convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and the Oslo Recommendation in 1998
by the OSCE on Linguistic Rights of National Minorities (Patten and Kymlicka 2003:3-5). It
is worth noting the absence of rights or protections for immigrant groups specifically. Patten
and Kymlicka point out that several countries in the West have linguistic issues that are still
unresolved such as Flanders in Belgium, Quebec in Canada, Catalonia and Basque in Spain,
as well as Puerto Rico in the US (Patten and Kymlicka 2003:4). In the United States, the
inclusion of new territories as states or decisions concerning border controls have had the
explicit goal of making sure that an Anglophone majority would be maintained. A case in
point is Hawaii, which only became a state when an English speaking majority was settled in
the area (Patten and Kymlicka 2003:24-25). Another example is that Puerto Rico's
qualification for inclusion as a state has been debated because it does not have English as its
dominant language (Barreto as cited in Patten and Kymlicka 2003:24-25).
However, although the existence of international declarations on language rights and an
overall movement towards multilingualism, "there has been great reluctance to view policies
of official bilingualism or multilingualism as 'rights' rather than pragmatic accommodations"
(Patten and Kymlicka 2003:3-5).
Therefore studies in language policy need to address linguistic diversity and its link to the
inclusion of linguistic minorities in the respective larger communities. If a common language
is necessary for democratic participation of individuals in the public debate, then the problem
of which language(s) to choose arises. If the language of the majority is chosen, then
linguistic minority members would have to choose between shifting to the dominant language
or accepting a peripheral position in political public discussions (Patten and Kymlicka
2003:16-17). Standardisation and codification of a particular language within a state, often
with negative effects on other languages and dialects, have been used as a means for
strengthening political power (Phillipson 2003:25-26, 28). In the case of the United States,
Fishman forwards the view that the English Only movement – which advocates
monolingualism – may actually have the adverse effect than the intended, i.e. it may give rise
to conscious actions of commitment by speakers of a threatened language and hence lead to a
reinforcement of the language that it aims to weaken (Fishman 1999:154).
The integration of immigrants in countries with an established dominant language has
brought into focus the complexity of issues associated with intrastate linguistic diversity.
Linguistic integration, through learning the dominant language of the host country was
considered a natural and unavoidable process by citizens of the target countries and
immigrants themselves. However, immigrant 'transnationalism' – "the tendency of immigrants
to maintain regular connections back to their country of origin" (Patten and Kymlicka 2003:78) – has affected the historic pattern of linguistic shift towards the dominant language and
there is speculation that newly arrived immigrants maintain contact with their countries of
origin and, as a consequence, do not integrate linguistically, i.e. do not learn the dominant
language well enough or not at all. The rise of multicultural ideology, in which integration
takes place parallel with the expression of an ethnic identity rather than its abandonment, has
meant that the expectation of assimilation (minorities culturally change/shift towards the host
society) has been affected. In other words, integration processes, rather than assimilation, are
in focus. In the context of the US, Patten and Kymlicka state that older processes of
'Americanisation' or assimilation are being replaced by the public expression of minority
ethnic identity. Furthermore public institutions are expected, by some, to adapt to the new
positions taken up by diverse ethnic cultures (Patten and Kymlicka 2003:7-8) and thus
accommodate minority identity factors. This attitude influences the establishment of the type
of language policy which in turn affects the daily communication of members in a society, in
this case the American society, especially in their interaction with institutions.
Issues regarding the establishment and implementation of a language policy are associated
to the rules of language practiced by public institutions such as the language (variety) that
officials use. Another issue is the consideration of whether state entitlements are linked to
linguistic status or linguistic competence of a person; and if linguistic behaviour in the private
sphere – the civil society, the market and the family – are to be regulated by public
institutions (Patten and Kymlicka 2003:16-17). Language policy is thus deliberate action to
affect the direction of the language use of a community. Language policy can be seen as an
attempt to deal with state-nation or nation-state identification in multicultural societies in the
face of the challenges caused by an ever increasing globalisation. According to Spolsky,
policy making and its successful implementation are dependent on acceptance of its usage in
the everyday practice by the speakers of the community in question (Spolsky 2004:222).
Thus, for its effectiveness, a language policy must gain legitimacy among the members in the
community to which it is directed. Spolsky (2004) states that for a language policy to be
successful it needs to take into account the relationship of consistency between linguistic
factors (language intervention by an explicit plan, language practice/behaviour by the users
and the beliefs and ideology in the community) and extra-linguistic factors. Both these
factors, the linguistic and extra-linguistic, are time and society specific.
Thus, a language policy, whether explicit or implicit, exists within a complex context. The
United States is part of the Inner circle occupied by the "traditional cultural and linguistic
bases of English", i.e. countries in which English is the first language (Kachru 1988,
1992:356-358) 1 . The dominance of English in the country was established during the colonial
migration period. However other national minorities, native to the country before colonialism
and recent immigrant groups, have also affected the Anglophone society with their cultures to
the extent that the US is often described as a multicultural society.
The influence of new groups can be related to the idea that a state is constantly adapting to
changing circumstances both within and outside its borders in order to guarantee its stable
existence. The United States of America is an example of a stable democracy caught up in
these changes mainly due to its history as a country founded on contact at the local level of
different cultural and linguistic groups. Historically, through linguistic assimilation, these
groups have assumed English as the de facto language of the federation. Bourhis and
Marshall state that in the past, the language policies of the United States have either followed
an assimilation ideology involving government regulation, definition and protection of the
national culture, or a civic ideology i.e. a non-interventionist ideology in which language is
regarded as an instrument of governance and culture rather than a symbol (Bourhis and
Marshall 1999). According to Kloss (1977:2, 45), tolerance-oriented rights, described by him
Three concentric circles are distinguished in Kachru's model. The Inner circle countries, often regarded as the
norm providers for the English language, are followed by the Outer circle countries which are regions in which
English was introduced during the colonisation period and that now have institutionalised non-native varieties of
English, namely English as a Second Language (ESL). The Expanding circle includes countries in which English
is given the position of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and therefore it has limited function and no official
status (Kachru 1988; Kachru 1992).
as laws that imply "that federal, state, and municipal governments do not interfere with efforts
on the parts of the minority to make use of the ethnic tongue in the private domain – e.g.,
newspapers, religious life, secular associations, and most important, private schools", have
been "handled very generously", except for the period at the end of the nineteenth century
when mother tongue schools came under debate. For Kloss, US language policies have
historically been based on relative tolerance, with the exception of the World War I period in
which measures were taken against the use of German by German-Americans. By the end of
the war, suppressing language measures had extended to all minorities (Kloss 1977:52). The
view of relative language tolerance in the US is opposed by Wiley who claims that linguistic
assimilation has been the main ideology and that English monolingual ideology became the
hegemonic definition of the American identity after World War I (Wiley 2000).
Recently, there have been growing concerns that English is losing its dominant position in
the American society due to a steady increase of non-English speaking immigrants (Mauk and
Oakland 2005:8-12). In the context of this thesis, the large number of non-Anglo, non-English
speaking immigrants, mainly of Latin American descent, has given rise to fear among
members of the majority/dominant group that explicit ethnocultural expressions may result in
fragmenting the US. It is necessary to point out that the terms 'majority' and 'minority' are
used here with regard to relations of power and is, therefore, not based on demographic
strength. The growing numbers of Hispanics in the US are often referred to as a problem even
though statistically and in terms of power they are a minority in the country.
From the perspective of population numbers, the hegemonic positioning of English in the
country is interesting if one takes account of the various language groups that have migrated
and participated in constructing the history of the US, and that the Anglo-descendents were
and are rather small in number. According to the US Census Bureau 2000, Hispanic or Latino
race individuals constitute 12.5 per cent of the population (US Census Bureau 2000a). The US
Bureau 2000 also reported that the three largest European ancestries 2 were German (15.2 per
cent); Irish (10.8 per cent) and English (8.7 per cent) which although maintaining the same
rank as in the 1990 census had decreased in size by more than 20 per cent. African-Americans
and Mexican ancestries were reported at 8.8 per cent and 6.5 per cent respectively (US Census
Bureau 2000b; cf. US Census Bureau 2000a). These statistics foreground some of the ethnic
diversity in the US as well as the difference between reality and perception of group sizes.
"The Census Bureau defines ancestry as a person's ethnic origin, heritage, descent, or "roots," which may
reflect their place of birth, place of birth of parents or ancestors, and ethnic identities that have evolved within
the United States." (US Census Bureau 2000b)
As mentioned above, language contact due to immigration is often regarded as a
temporary situation since immigrants are expected to acquire the language of the host country
(Coulmas 2005:158). However, if a large demographic group maintains its immigrant
language, the members of the host country may feel threatened. The issue of official language
status has sparked public debate in the media in the US dealing primarily with the functions of
English and Spanish within its borders. The United States has a growing population of
Hispanics from under 5 per cent of the total population in 1970 to 12, 5 per cent in 2000 (as
mentioned above US Census Bureau 2000a). Projections indicate an increase to 15, 5 per cent
in 2010 (US Census 2008). Among the languages used at home in 2000, Spanish speakers
made up approximately half of the total immigrant language speakers in the country. A survey
of the English language ability of immigrant groups in the US has shown that 51 per cent of
the Spanish speaking population over 5 years of age spoke English very well, 21 per cent
spoke it well, 18 per cent did not speak it well and the remaining 10 per cent did not speak
English (US Census 2003). The rising number of non-English speaking immigrants has led to
a call, by some members of the population, for a language policy establishing English as the
official language of the United States.
The debate regarding the need for a policy stating English as an official language entails
that the hegemonic role of English in the country is challenged. It is therefore interesting to
study the attitudes regarding integration of ethnolinguistic minorities as a societal security
issue in the United States. Societal security in Waever's (1993:23-26) definition concerns the
capacity for a society to sustain its identity under changing conditions.
1.1 Aim
The overall aim of this study is to contribute to a better understanding of language attitudes
and, by extension, to language policy making in multicultural societies where daily interaction
between different language groups can lead to perceptions of threat to societal security.
Although studies in language policy mention security and deal with aspects related to
security, these have not attempted to systematically provide a gathering of the different
attitudes that relate societal security and language policy making. This study aims at filling
that gap by mapping the field of societal security to language policy making, and thus
investigates the speech acts of security that occur in the public debate in four main
newspapers in the United States. The choice of the United States for investigation in this
study is based on its historical construction as a nation of immigrants, and consequently of
contact between diverse ethnolinguistic groups.
The present focus of the study is narrowed to the perception of threat caused by immigrant
presence in the country. The reason for focusing on immigration is due to the increased
intensity of global movements and the rise in the media of issues related to integration
through language and national identity.
Since successful implementation of a policy is dependent on its acceptance by those
affected by the measures (Spolsky 2004), it is hence necessary to gain an understanding of the
views expressed by the public. This study focuses on the attitudes expressed in newspaper
articles, as a first step to contributing to the integration of the concept of 'societal security' in
language policy studies. Accordingly, the study investigates the discourse related to
immigration and societal security in online newspapers in the United States. This
investigation hopes to contribute to language policy making studies and practices that have as
goal the achievement or sustainment of societal security in situations of ethnolinguistic
Morgan (2006:16) presents two questions regarding speech communities which will
constitute the starting point of this study, namely: "How do speech communities manage to
incorporate hegemonic norms and how do they also produce norms, values, and attitudes that
do not incorporate hegemony and are in opposition to the dominant discourse" (Morgan
2006:16) e.g. of American identity? Thus in this study, Morgan's questions translate into the
issues regarding hegemonic discourses of one nation-one language, namely how the speech
acts (obtained through text analysis) of security represent English as the national or official
language of the United States and/or express pluralisms in a multicultural society.
The specific questions for carrying out this study are as follows:
1. What discourse types are present in the articles in relation to language and
2. What linguistic identities and relations are present in the articles as regards
3. What kind of interdiscursivity is present in the articles?
4. How do the answers to the above three questions relate to issues in the wider
context of the social, namely societal security with language as a focus?
The use of the term 'discursive types' in this investigation is based on Fairclough's threedimensional framework for critical discourse analysis which is developed in more detail in
section 4.3.2. In brief terms, discourse types refer to the combination of ways of speaking or
writing about a specific issue such as the choice of words and expressions in specific genres
(TV programmes, newspaper articles, among others). This study will take online newspaper
articles from the news and opinion sections as the genre in which the linguistic analysis of
word choices will be carried out to uncover discourse types (see Fairclough 1995b:33 for his
view of texts as commonly intertextual hybrids of different discourses and genres) in
accordance with Question 1 of the aim. This study focuses on the choice of words constituting
ways of speaking in the articles, rather than on genre, i.e. the structure of the articles.
Ideology, namely common-sense or natural ways of signifying reality are important factors in
this investigation. Question 2 deals with the role of the English language in the American
society as a national and ethnic identity marker. Question 2 also refers to the expressions of
relations of power e.g. through modal verbs, and the way language groups are represented and
"talked" about. The key aspect is that language is seen as socially constitutive and constituted
and also as a site of struggle for new ways of interpreting and expressing the social
(Fairclough 1995a:131; Fairclough 2001:2), which can be identified through the presence of
interdiscursivity (Question 3 of the aim). A situation of interdiscursivity arises when a
communicative event includes different genres and discourses more identified with other
domains (Fairclough 1995b:55-56). My reading of Fairclough's approach entails that this
study will identify interdiscursivity based on the use of words or expressions more often
related to different spheres, i.e. the domains of politics, economics, environment, military (in
line with the state security sectors parallel to societal security in Waever's dual model of
security in section 4.1.2). The use of metaphors and similes are also seen as possible markers
of interdiscursivity. Finally, the link from the first three questions to the wider societal
security is a necessary factor within discourse as defined by Fairclough as a practice for not
only "representing the world, but of signifying the world, constituting and constructing the
world in meaning" (Fairclough 1992:64). Thus, the answer to question 4 will reveal how
societal security with language in focus is constructed in the American context as regards
immigration of non-English speaking groups.
1.2 Method and material: An overview
This section introduces the method and material used in this study (see chapter 5 for a more
detailed account). This analysis consists of data collected from four newspapers in the United
States between April 2006 and December 2007. The time period is chosen because of the
Senate's approval to declare English as the national language in May 2006 – although the
demands were for an official language status – as an amendment to the immigration bill in
which there were calls for amnesty to illegal immigrants. The bill did not pass the House and
therefore died. President Bush supported a bipartisan immigration bill in the House but gave
up in 2007 due to opposing voices. In 2010, the immigration bill had once again become part
of the public debate at a national level after Arizona passed a new strict statute on illegal
The criteria for the choice of newspapers are based on their size and regional association.
The newspapers selected for the study are: USA Today, The New York Times, Los Angeles
Times, and San Francisco Chronicle (six articles from each newspaper). All articles are from
the respective newspaper websites.
In order to uncover the ideologies surrounding language as a societal security issue, the
linguistic analysis of the data is limited to the parts of the articles that refer to aspects of an
existing threat in relation to the English language. The data is approached using critical
discourse analysis, more specifically Fairclough's three-dimensional framework (sections
4.3.1 and 4.3.2). Since Fairclough's approach requires that the text is linked to the social
context in which it occurs, the examples from the data are related to wider social concepts and
theories specifically from sections 3, 4.1, and 4.2.
As a result of the data analyses in the present thesis, certain patterns are visible in the
discussion of the topic of official English. These patterns indicate two discourse types namely
the discourse type of Loyalty and the discourse type of Efficiency. For the linguistic analysis,
repetition of content (including those expressed through synonyms) e.g. in adverbs, verbs
among others, play a significant role in identifying the discourse types. In line with the critical
discourse analysis tradition used in this investigation, word choice and repetition also indicate
power relations between the identities present in the data, both in their positioning as speakers
or as spoken about. Interdiscursivity, indicated mainly through metaphors and similes of
immigrant and immigration representation, as well as the use of terms from different fields in
the society, such as economy and politics, are included in the discourse types of Loyalty and
Efficiency. Genre considerations have been kept to a minimum, namely only as regards
establishing that the articles are from the news and opinion sections. The structure of the
articles themselves is not considered to be necessary for achieving the aim of this
investigation but rather to be taken up in future studies that investigate the media institution as
1.3 Outline
This study has 7 chapters. Chapter 1 includes an introduction with a general background to
the topic, and indicates the significance of the investigation. It also contains the aim of the
study with specific research questions followed by an overview of the method and material
(presented in more detail in chapter 5). The introductory chapter concludes with an outline of
the investigation.
Chapter 2 places the social context of this study in the United States of America in which a
historical overview of migration and language policies is presented. This chapter finishes with
a short description of the federal system and the legislation procedures in the country since
they form a base for understanding the processes involved before a policy is implemented in
the United States.
Chapter 3 introduces some concepts and theories that that are relevant to the theoretical
approach of language policy and security in Chapter 4. Aspects of identity from a national and
multicultural perspective are followed by concerns related to multilingualism and the
definition of speech communities. Since this study deals with state-related identity and contact
between different linguistic groups, the concept of loyalty and, to a lesser degree trust, are
considered in a separate section. Finally aspects of power in inter-group relations are
presented using Bourdieu's (1991) concepts of habitus and symbolic domination which are
followed by sections on language shift, and language conflict and contact. Throughout are
examples and references to concrete cases that are related to the topic under study.
In Chapter 4, Buzan's (1991) proposal for widening the traditional approach to security
studies at the start of section 4.1 serves as a base for the main security approach in this study,
namely societal security presented by Waever (1993), which further develops Buzan's
framework. Waever's model separates societal security from state security in which the
former has its focus on identity. Moreover, since societies are constituted by individuals, the
concept of human security (CHS 2002-2003) is also presented. Whereas the approaches to
security taken by Buzan and Waever emphasise a collective entity, human security is centred
on the individual.
Section 4.1 on security is followed by a presentation of language policy issues (section
4.2) beginning with a general introduction of language policy as dealt with in the academic
literature of the field. The section of language rights is included on the assumption that any
action on language policy by a state has an impact on the language rights of communities as
well as individuals within its borders. With regard to this, studies dealing with security in
relation to language policy making are also presented in this section. The term 'insecurity' in
Ager's (2001) study on motivation in language policy making closes this section. Whenever
possible, the theoretical background is exemplified to better show the connection between
theory and real life situations.
The final section of chapter 4 contains a short introduction to language attitudes followed
by an account of critical discourse analysis. Specifically, Fairclough's model for language
analysis based on power relations and ideology is described and also used to analyse the data.
Fairclough's approach to discourse analysis has three components: discourse as text,
discursive practice and discourse as social practice and involves a textually (linguistically)
oriented discourse analysis to studies of social and cultural change (Fairclough 1995a;
Fairclough 1995b; Fairclough 2001). This theory is useful in the present study since it aims to
uncover ideological power mechanisms in linguistic practices. Fairclough's theory is suited to
the study of attitudes expressed in newspaper articles. A section dealing with some aspects of
Halliday's functional grammar are included since Fairclough draws on it.
Chapter 5 begins with a description of the data and the method in which it was collected
and analysed followed by considerations regarding newspapers as sources of information –
more specifically what makes an event a news issue. This section closes with a historical
overview of the newspaper industry in the US.
Chapter 6 constitutes the data analysis and results sections, indicating the discourse types
of Loyalty (section 6.1) and Efficiency (section 6.2). The discourse types contain speech acts
of English as an official language, representations of immigrants as the Other, and
immigration/immigration debate as related to sovereignty, race and war. A summary is
provided at the end of each speech act subsection. Sections 6.3 and 6.4 summarise the
discourse types and relate these to the theories of security and language policy.
Chapter 7 closes the study with concluding remarks and generalises the findings and
conclusions to the implications this investigation has for studies of language policy making
with regard to societal security, as well as presents suggestions for further research. Lastly,
the bibliography and an appendix with a list of the newspaper articles on which this research
is based are provided.
2 The United States: A historical background
2.1. Migration
International migration has given the United States a composite make up of different
multicultural and multiethnic identities (Bourhis and Marshall 1999:244-266). As a result,
multilingualism is an integral part of the United States. Crystal states that groups with
different linguistic backgrounds have immigrated to America to escape religious persecution,
revolution, poverty and famine, and its demographic diversity includes groups from different
parts of the world such as Europeans, Latin Americans (Crystal 1997:31), Africans, and
Asians, as well as indigenous American Indian groups. According to Bourhis and Marshall,
the United States has followed in its policies both a civic ideology, i.e. an instrumental view
on language, and an assimilation ideology, i.e. a view of language as a symbol (Bourhis and
Marshall 1999:244-266). Historically, the perception of threat from other languages has been
limited in the US since language conflicts have been seldom. This has meant that
governments have not needed to resort to legislation to regulate language usage. Thus, a
policy of laissez faire has been adopted (Crawford 2001:1) since immigrants that arrived in
the US acculturated quickly. Nevertheless, if conflicts did arise, the government took
measures (Crawford 2000:2). This is in line with Bourhis and Marshall's claim above
regarding language policies in the US (Bourhis and Marshall 1999:244-266). According to
Fishman, although two processes have been present throughout the American history namely
self-maintenance and Americanisation, most attention has been paid to the latter process
(Fishman 1966:15). However, with regard to Fishman's claim, it is worth noting that Bourhis
and Marshall state that before 1900, official documents were printed in English as well as in
other languages (Bourhis and Marshall 1999:244-266) and as a consequence of contact with
different languages, the English language has acquired features from the languages spoken by
the newcomers (Johnson 1997:802).
The melting pot ideology of blending cultures may have not been put into effect
successfully, if one takes account of Breidlid et al's (1996:35) formulation: "Leaders of some
immigrant groups felt the overt pressure to assimilate as a threat. During the first decade of
this century the general idea was that the nation should work actively to mix new immigrants
into "the melting pot". Giving up old cultural ties in the process, the immigrant would
hopefully emerge as a genuine American. As a result the melting pot idea was often fought…"
(Breidlid et al. 1996:35). The metaphor of a 'salad-bowl', instead of the 'melting pot', was
advocated by those who favoured a multicultural United States (Johnson 1997:803).
Changes in the demographic base of the United States are affecting views of the core
identity of American nationality. The European-based Anglo-American assimilation process
has been countered with a more multicultural and multiethnic notion of the American national
identity 3 (Bourhis and Marshall 1999: 244-266). Asian, South and Central American and
Caribbean immigrants have made up the main immigrant groups since the 1980s (Mauk and
Oakland 2005:5). The 1990s marked the highest number of immigrants – over 1,800,000 –
admitted 4 into the US. In 2002, permanent legal residence was granted to 1,063,732
immigrants ( 2002). Also, of the legal immigrants admitted during that year,
63 per cent were listed under the family sponsorship programme, 16 per cent for employment,
12 per cent as asylum seekers or refugees and a remaining 3 per cent were linked to the relief
act of Nicaragua and Central America, NACARA ( 2002). Mexico accounted
for 20.6 per cent of the number of illegal immigrants and was followed by India with 6.7 per
cent and China with 5.8 per cent ( 2002). 65 per cent of legal immigrants
chose to live in the following six states: 291,216 in California; 114,827 in New York; 90,819
in Florida; 88,365 in Texas; 57,721 in Jersey; and 47,235 in Illinois ( 2002).
Latinos constitute the largest immigrant minority group (Mauk and Oakland 2005:5), which in
2002, along with Asians made up 75 per cent of the legal immigrant residents, namely 51 per
cent for Latinos and 24 per cent for Asians (Mauk and Oakland 2005:62).
Although the question of the link language-national identity has been focused on in
various stages of its history, the 1980s marked the beginning of an intensive movement,
namely to make English the official language of the country (Crawford 1992:1). Another
proposal for dealing with the perceived threat from non-English speaking immigrants was to
make proficiency in English a requirement for entry into the country or for obtaining
citizenship (Patten and Kymlicka 2003:24-25). After 2001, the elite and the general public
expressed different opinions regarding immigration. Whereas the political, economic, and
cultural elite did not object to the large numbers of immigrants, the general public saw
immigration as linked to issues of national security and differences in culture (Mauk and
Oakland 2005:67). Bearing in mind the ethnic diversity of the US, debates have focused on
national unity and identity as well as ethnic pluralism and multiculturalism (Mauk and
Oakland 2005:8-9). Symbols such as the national flag, the pledge of allegiance to the flag, the
This description varies from the difference between assimilation and the melting pot models presented by
Giddens (2001: 256) – see section 3.1.1.
The number of admitted immigrants for permanent residence during a year in the United States does not
correspond to the number of migrants that entered the country during that year ( 2002) since
many individuals are in the country illegally.
national anthem, among others, have been used to construct a national identity and promote
loyalty to the idea of 'Americanness'. This type of symbolic unity is intended to reduce or
compensate for the boundaries created by economic, social, ethnic and class distinctions
(Mauk and Oakland 2005:10).
The opinions of the two main oppositional groups can be identified regarding the debate
surrounding language and immigration. On the one hand, there are groups e.g. US English
and the Federation for American Reform (FAIR), that favour stricter immigration and
language policies (Ricento 1996:150-151). FAIR and the Council for Inter-American Security
have supported groups such as U.S. English and English First (Hernández-Chávez 1995:158).
On the other hand, those in favour of a pluralistic, multicultural approach and who are
positive towards affirmative action in support of minorities, include organisations of
professional language associations as in the "National Association for Bilingual Education
(NABE), Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), the Modern
Language Association" (Ricento 1996:150-151). There are also ethnic groups active e.g. the
"League of United American Citizens (LULAC), the Puerto Rican Defense and Education
Fund, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and the
National Council of La Raza" (Ricento 1996:151). In their resolution opposing Official
English and English Only measures of 1989, and in their capacity as a national civil rights
organisation, MALDEF, states that such initiatives "undermine the development of languages
other than English as resources of the nation essential to international commerce, diplomacy,
and national security" (MALDEF 1992:150).
The efforts to maintain English as the only dominant language since the formation of the
US derive from the view of it as a tool for facilitating democracy among linguistically diverse
groups. This policy indirectly promoted the gradual assimilation of minority language
speakers towards English (Ager 2001:110-111). The pull towards English monolingualism
has led minority groups to voice identity-related concerns about their cultural and linguistic
heritage (Crystal 1997:31).
Regarding the relationship between the state and language, Tollefson claims that the state
can create feelings of security and belonging by using language as a way of expressing
nationalism (Tollefson 1991:208). In a similar vein, leaders of minority groups may regard
reduction of contact and interaction with other ethnolinguistic groups, especially the dominant
group, as a way of creating security through social distance (Cartwright 2006:204). This can
be related to Fishman's view that the loss of a language also entails a loss of a secure sense of
identity (Fishman 1995:60). Thus, language may be used as the boundary creator. However,
reduction of contact or increase of social distance between members of different communities
also leads to lack of empathy and less knowledge and understanding of the Other (Cartwright
2006:204) which in turn affect levels of tolerance. In a 1990 poll that surveyed the general
population based on six core characteristics related to Americanism, Latinos were seen as the
least patriotic of minority groups, which included Jews, blacks, Asians, and southern whites.
Latino secessionist concerns were seen as a threat to the nation's security (Schmid 2001).
According to Tollefson, the language policy of the United States towards refugees and
immigrants is to integrate them into the social, political and economic arenas of the society
through education. However, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for refugees only
supply language education that it is minimally sufficient for them to carry out low paid work
and from which it is difficult to advance (Tollefson 1991:103, 108). Based on this, Tollefson
(1991:104) argues that language education supplied to immigrants is a way of creating a
workforce for marginal jobs which offer limited security and no prospects for increasing
knowledge of the language of the host community or employability by acquisition of new
skills. According to Kymlicka, there are immigrants that sometimes are not included in
programmes for second language learning such as is the case of the Cuban exiles in Miami,
who have been excluded from many integration measures since there were expectations that
this group would return quickly to their country (Kymlicka 2002:363). Since individuals that
completed the educational and integration programmes still demonstrated apparent difficulties
in achieving economic advancement, the metaphor of English as a tool for social mobility of
immigrants must be viewed as not being entirely correct (Tollefson 1991:104). Further, the
acquisition of English in the US is seen as based on individual motivation. Those refugees
who acquire English are regarded as hard workers, while those who do not manage to speak
English well after undergoing the ESL program are seen to be unmotivated and held
responsible for their lack of success. The ability to speak English is considered as a sign of
loyalty in United States (Tollefson 1991:110) and is defined by the US Immigration and
Naturalisation Service as "a basic citizenship skill" (Gutstein as cited in Tollefson 1991:110111).
Immigration and language contact are conducive to government measures directed at
affecting the linguistic behaviour of newcomers. According to Schmid, due to the presence of
immigrants and their growing power and recognition, Americans feel vulnerable as regards
their security and identity (Schmid 2001). In the case of the United States, the threat may be
seen as coming from the increasing use of Spanish in the public space and semi-public space.
The public space is the space that is open and free for people to use and meet e.g streets, parks
and squares. In contrast, the private space is the space that only a few people can use and have
access to, e.g. home. Semi-public space is available to the public but only for certain purposes
e.g. shops and restaurants (Hirsch and Shearing 2000:86; Conway and Roenisch 1994:131).
Some prominent figures in organisations campaigning for Official English claim that
Mexican-origin secessionists are a threat to national security (de la Garza, Falcon, Garcia and
Garcia 1994:229). In connection to this, the state can regulate or impose via language policy
measures that limit language usage in homes, in the streets, in associations and activities of
the civil society, as well as in businesses and corporations. The question then is to what extent
the state should influence language usage in these settings (Patten and Kymlicka 2003:23)
without creating a conflict of interests.
2.2 Constructing the US through language policies
Individual state regulations regarding language must be in conformity with the US
Constitution (Schiffman 1996:274) even though the United States does not have a declared
official language (Schildkraut 2005). Language rights are not explicitly guaranteed in texts
and provisions in the United States (Schiffman 1996:216) but in May 2006, the Senate added
an amendment (S.AMDT.4064 to S.2611) proposed by Sen. Inhofe to an immigration bill
(Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act 2006) sponsored by Sen. Specter declaring English
the national language (109th Congress S.2611). Although the declaration of a national
language is mainly symbolic, the action may encourage groups to attempt the establishment of
further declarations strengthening the role of English. The most recent application at the time
of writing is the English Language Unity Act of 2007 (HR 997) and reflects Bourhis and
Marshall's (1999:244-266) view that the US faces decisions regarding language choice, ethnic
identity, equality and social justice.
There are divided views on why the English language was not given official status when
the founding fathers wrote the American Constitution in the period around 1787. A possible
explanation is that it was assumed that the founding fathers' ethnic and cultural homogeneity
would be maintained in the future generations of Americans. The possibility of including a
language provision was also disregarded as posing a possible threat to the formation of a
union. During this period, German, French and English were used in official and unofficial
political documents. The spread of information was seen as an important means of creating
loyalty among the different ethnicities (Schildkraut 2005).
However, there was disagreement regarding the role of English in the country. Two views
could be distinguished. Benjamin Rush, a member of the Continental Congress, saw education
in any language as important for the survival of the newly established nation. On the other
side of the debate were John Adams and Noah Webster who believed in the notion of a
common language for social and political development. Webster was also against regional
accents and the co-existence of languages since he saw them as creating divisions
(Schildkraut 2005:12, Webster 1992:34).
A further explanation as to why the US Constitution or early legislation did not have any
recommendations regarding English or other languages is because most of the colonists came
to America in search of religious freedom and not freedoms connected to language
(Schiffman 1996:258). Even at a later date, although the matter of a national language was
discussed at the time of the War of Independence, no actual official decision was taken
(Spolsky 2004:92). For the founding fathers, language was seen as a matter of individual
choice (Schmid 2001:169). Hernández-Chávez (1995:141-142) claims that although no
explicit statement was made in the Constitution regarding an official language, English has
always been the de facto language imposed in various forms since the establishment of the
new federation e.g. for citizenship as well as legislative, judicial and administrative activities.
According to him, other languages were allowed for political advantage, namely to facilitate
communication with non-English speaking groups in order to gain independence. An explicit
reference to English as the official language would create conflict and affect cooperation for
In 1795, the first Congressional vote took place regarding language. The first bill
permitted Congressional laws to be printed in German and English. However, it was voted
down and the second language bill was passed that required the use of English as the only
language in which federal statutes should be printed. This bill was passed with George
Washington's signature. From 1795 to 1950 immigration policy debates in Congress were
common and focused on ethnicity and immigration. But debates about language remained
mainly at the state and local levels until after World War II when language once again was
taken up at the federal level (Schildkraut 2005:12).
After 1820, immigration from Britain reduced and was substituted by those coming from
northern Europe, Norway and Germany as well as from Ireland. Kloss states that although not
overtly stated, the languages spoken by the old-established settlers enjoyed a tolerance that
later settlers to the United States were not granted (Kloss 1977:288-293). Schiffman however
adds that, due to the immigrant waves from Germany, tolerance to German speakers was no
longer unquestioned by the 1870s, and several attempts were made to pass laws legislating
against the use of German. Some researchers believe that this diminishing of tolerance
particularly directed to the German language, was based on the fact that most of the
immigrants were now migrating for political and economic reasons rather than religious
persecution (Schiffman 1996:221-224).
After 1882, immigration of Greeks, Jews, Italians and Slavs increased in numbers. In the
second part of the 19th century, riots resulted in stopping Asian immigration (Schiffman
1996:224). The 19th century is the period in which immigration was at its highest and also
when the construction of a more explicit policy begins. Schiffman claims that during the
nineteenth century a covert policy based on an American linguistic culture was constructed
and even though the overt policy was tolerance, assimilation towards English continued and
realised for instance in the absorption of non-English speakers resulting from the Mexican
War and the Louisiana Purchase, the Americanisation of immigrants in public schools,
xenophobic movements, and an increased intolerance towards non-English speakers
(Schiffman 1991:231-232). Despite this, attempts to make English the official language have
not succeeded. Nevertheless, although languages like German were used to recruit soldiers
during the period of the Civil War, subsequent demands to recognise languages other than
English have been minimally successful (Hernández-Chávez 1995). Thus, although the
colonisation process (which included linguistic assimilation of Native Americans) involved
linguistically diverse groups, English became hegemonic (Schiffman 1996:249, 265).
According to Mertz (1982), there was an increasing belief during the nineteenth century that
the meaning of American ideas such as truth, freedom and justice, could only be
communicated in the English language and as Schiffman states: "Mertz calls this a 'folkWhorfian' notion" (Schiffman 1996:232-233). Mertz's (1982) claim is that the US courts made
decisions on language laws based on a folk theory, explaining that the theory links US
citizenship, identity, and the capacity to speak English. He claims that according to this
theory, the socialisation process of children through the English language not only shapes the
way they perceive the world, but also shapes their possibility to be politically loyal to the US
by understanding certain political concepts that only knowledge of the English language
permits. This can be indirectly related to Spolsky's statement that President Roosevelt also
linked the maintenance of immigrant languages with divided loyalty to the state (Spolsky
Inter-linguistic contact had increased due to the war with Mexico in 1848 in which Mexico
lost territory that today are the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, as well
as other areas of land that presently are part of other states (Schiffman 1996:249, 265). In
spite of clauses guaranteeing the maintenance and practice rights of Spanish speakers as
regards their customs, religion and language in the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo for the
handover of California to the United States, these rights were later reduced by statutes and ad
hoc regulations and by 1879, provisions for publications in Spanish were almost completely
absent (Schiffman 1996:266-267, 265). Thus, after 1848, Spanish was no longer recognised as
a "sovereign" language of the southern states, and German and French were no longer strong
languages (Spolsky 2004:93). Furthermore, the Nationality Act of 1906 put forward oral
proficiency in English as obligatory, to which compulsory literacy was added in 1940
(Schiffman 1996:233). In 1878, California was the first "English-only" state since it revoked
Spanish language rights that were recognised in California's first Constitution in 1849, as well
as voted for English to be the only language used in official proceedings – a situation that
lasted until 1966 (Crawford 1992:52).
Although during the post-Civil War period there were tendencies to favour English
monolingualism in the country, there was still loyalty among immigrants to their language of
origin which was used at home, at community level and in newspapers. In bilingual
educational programmes, immigrant languages were used in teaching while English was
taught as a second language (Ager 2001:110-111; Spolsky 2004:95).
By the end of the 19th century, immigrants from southern and eastern European countries
made up most of the numbers. These immigrants were poorer and less educated and the
majority were Catholics, Eastern Orthodox or Jewish. In this respect, they had cultures that
differed much more from the Anglo-Americans in comparison to previous groups. This
difference led to xenophobic perceptions of threat among some of the groups (Schiffman
1996:234). In 1906, knowledge of English became a condition for citizenship (Ager
2001:110-111). Arguments for Americanisation in the 1910 were based on fear of revolution
by immigrant workers (Spolsky 2004:98). Therefore employers required their workers to
learn English. This is related to the belief that it was necessary to eliminate any feelings of
divided loyalties immigrants may have to their country of origin. In this case, an absence of
loyalty was expressed by the use and knowledge of certain languages (Spolsky 2004:98).
However in 1913, Spanish was allowed to form the base of the Spanish bilingual
'Cosmopolitan School' similar to those already functioning for the German, French, and
Italian languages (Schiffman 1996:269). In 1920, immigration was reduced to the numbers of
1890 and foreign language education was removed from public elementary schools since
bilingualism was considered harmful for children and un-American (Schiffman 1996:238). In
other words, the teaching of foreign languages was not prioritised by the government and
during the 1930s English-only legislation dominated in public education (Spolsky 2004:96).
The requirements for language proficiency were included in the Internal Security Act of 1950
which also stopped admission of any non-American who could be considered a danger to the
public interest, welfare or safety of the country (Schmid 2001:38-39). The reference to
knowledge of English in the Internal Security Act may be seen to create favourable conditions
for interpretations that naturalise the link between these two factors.
The imagined identity of the United States as a monolingual country can be linked to
historical events, policies, and wars that began during the late nineteenth century and the
beginning of the 20th century. During this period, political loyalty to the nation was linked
ideologically to the capacity of speaking English without an accent. This can be contrasted to
the early publication of documents in immigrant languages that were used to spread
information and thus guarantee loyalty to the young nation. Thus, language, in this early
period, was seen as a private concern of the individual and was not yet linked to notions of
American national identity and loyalty expressed through language. At the same time, new
arrivals were not expected to maintain their mother tongue for a long period of time. Some
measures were taken to privilege English such as the Enabling Act of Louisiana 1811 and its
first constitution positioned English as the language used in documents of the state even
though there were many French speakers (Schmid 2001:168-169, Hernández-Chávez
1995:142). Wolfe (1998:133) claims that the strong significance of loyalty in relation to the
American identity may indicate that patriotism is a significant moral value in the United
States. Schmid (2001:172) states that the link between using English exclusively and the
notion of being a loyal American has intensified the conflict between old citizens and new
Americans (Schmid 2001:172) since the latter are increasingly perceived as maintaining their
mother tongue. Hernández-Chávez (1995:157) further states that "[l]inguistic acculturation is
still seen as the sine qua non of efforts to forestall the "quebeckization" of Aztlán, or the U.S
Southwest by irredentist Mexicans". Another example showing fear related to bilingualism is
the reference Crawford (1992:395) makes to Senator Steve Symms', an Idaho Republican,
warning that bilingualism in Canada and India has led to division and conflict, writing that
"Symms reduces language diversity to an internal security threat".
America's participation in World War I led to calls for the prohibition of the German
language in the United States. Although no general law was written, various acts issued by
state councils indicated intolerance to German which resulted in the language shift of German
speakers towards English (Schiffman 1996:236-237).
However during the Second World War, on realising that there was a lack of speakers of
foreign languages that were needed as a resource for defence and government agencies,
military training programmes in the Navy and Army were started for some languages.
Specifically, language issues gained new interest when in 1958, the Soviet Union launched a
space satellite sputnik and investigations of the Soviet educational system indicated that the
citizens spent a considerable amount of time learning languages. In connection to this,
"Congress then passed the National Defence Education Act (1958), which appropriated
money for the study of specific areas of the world ('Area Studies'); it also appropriated money
for the teaching of non-Western languages" (Schiffman 1996:239-240). Also, many
volunteers with the Peace Corps learned new languages during their placement in different
parts of the world (Schiffman 1996:240). According to Spolsky (2004), in recent years
there have been efforts supported by the intelligence agencies to improve language
teaching, especially at the advanced level. The contract has been signed to establish a
university associated research centre largely devoted to language. These examples of
language management, not yet matching the Soviet language schools that produced fluent
speakers of English and other languages for diplomatic and intelligence jobs, constitute
language policy motivated by national security (Spolsky 2004:103).
Contradicting immigration measures and attitudes were evident in the McCarran-Walter
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 which removed racial barriers for naturalisation but
kept in place the immigration quotas of ethnicities from different countries (Schildkraut
2005:12). Also, in the 1960s, new ideas appeared on language issues in connection to the
Civil Rights Act (Schiffman 1996:239-240) and a change took place so that national policy
began to support multilingualism and multiculturalism (Spolsky 2004:96).
In 1965, Immigration and Nationality amendments (amending the 1952 Act) were passed.
Country-related immigration quotas were dropped and the focus was on reuniting families
(Schildkraut 2005:12). Between the periods 1960-1990, immigration increased from Asia and
Latin America indicating a shift away from immigrants with European descent. According to
the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) 5 1999 statistics, 70 per cent of immigrants
came from Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean (Schildkraut 2005:12).
In light of the changes in demography and the influence from the civil rights movement,
Congress passed two laws considering the needs of language minorities, namely the Bilingual
Education Act and the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The former, introduced in 1968, dealt with
the provision of funding for programmes with bilingual education and guaranteed funding for
programmes that did not use English as a medium for teaching (Spolsky 2004:99).
Interestingly, in relation to costs of implementing education in different languages, Grin states
now the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services under the Dept of Homeland Security
that "the added expenditure entailed by moving from a monolingual to a bilingual education
system is much smaller than commonly believed" since children attend schooling in any case,
thus the cost of educating individuals is present regardless (Grin 2006:88), although,
according to the present author, education or recruitment of proficient bilingual educators may
entail additional costs. Spolsky states that in 1974, the Supreme Court ruled in the case Lau
versus Nichols that it was a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act if schools failed to provide
opportunities for meaningful participation of non-English speaking students, and
consequently could be judged guilty of discrimination. Furthermore, Title IV of The Civil
Rights Act of 1964 (which also opened the possibility for the federal government to
participate in language management) was used in language discrimination court cases in
favour of bilingual education. Based on the ideas of human and civil rights, discrimination
based on language should not occur, and government services must be provided in a way that
makes these services accessible to those that do not speak or read English. The Bilingual
Education Act of 1968 expired in 2002 and it was not prolonged since critics of the Act saw it
as a way for language maintenance by minority groups (Spolsky 2004: 99, 105). However,
with the expiration of the Bilingual Education Act "the English-teaching portion of the
programme was kept in the paragraphs of the No Child Left Behind Act" (Spolsky 2004:107).
The Bilingual Education Act was founded on the situation and number of Spanish
speakers and the drop-out rate of Mexican-American children (Schiffman 1996:240). Also,
the Cuban revolution in 1959 brought large amounts of Spanish speaking refugees, many of
which were part of the 'bourgeois', and were interested in maintaining their Spanish language.
Special programmes directed to children whose mother tongue was Spanish, as well as
bilingual education for Spanish and English speaking children were initiated (Schiffman
1996:240). Later focus was more directed to helping disadvantaged children, which also
resulted in the introduction of new languages in schools (Schiffman 1996:267-268).
The second law that was passed for the benefit of language minorities included
amendments in 1975 to the VRA of 1965 in which it was stated that bilingual voting
assistance was to be provided for communities that contained at least 5 per cent of citizens
that spoke a language other than English. In 1992, the 5 per cent requirement was changed to
communities that had at least ten thousand citizens (Schildkraut 2005:12-13).
In the late 1960s and 1970s, a wave of migrants – Asians from East Africa and the ethnic
Chinese minority from Vietnam – arrived in the US. These groups of refugees had as main
destinations the US, Britain, Australia, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Their presence gave rise to
debates about what methods would be best to manage accommodation of these new groups
into the wider society. In the US, the debate oscillated between keeping them together as a
group or splitting them up to achieve their assimilation and isolation from their community of
origin. These debates were later replaced by concerns regarding the degree of protection and
support of their cultural differences by the state. These discussions became related to the
rights of ethnic minorities, which were consequently placed on the political agenda since it
became clear that Spanish speaking minorities and Native Americans were suffering
discrimination similar to that experienced by the black population (Watson 2000:7).
After the 1970s, the assimilationist model in the US was replaced by a more tolerant and
pluralistic ideal which allowed immigrants to maintain parts of their heritage such as food,
dress, and religion. These expressions of identity were no longer viewed as unpatriotic or 'unAmerican' (Kymlicka 1995:14). However, the 1980s marked a new turn in the debate
regarding the campaign for official English (Crawford 1992:1). In 1981, Senator Hayakawa
(R-CA) introduced an amendment to the Constitution to declare English as the official
language of the US. Similar bills have been introduced in every Congress since 1981 and died
(Schildkraut 2005:13). This can be said to be a result of greater tolerance towards immigration
and legislation being more accepting of languages other than English which have, however,
caused fear of losing the 'American identity' among certain groups. The organisation, US
English was founded in 1983 with the objective of making English the official language of the
United States and positioning itself against bilingual education and services. Although the
organisation was unsuccessful in its goal to add an amendment to the US Constitution, it had
varying degrees of success in states which have large amounts of Spanish speakers such as
California, Arizona, Florida and Colorado. This support is also a response to the fact that
some activities and areas in the communities required some knowledge of Spanish (Ager
2001:110-111). During this period, there was also support for multilingualism in many states
and localities, reflected in the use of the term 'English-Plus' (Schiffman 1996:245). The
English Plus movement is a reaction to the English-Only movement and advocates for high
proficiency in English and knowledge of at least one other language. The members of the
movement also suggest that language assistance should be provided to guarantee accessibility
to education, essential services and electoral processes (English Plus Movement 1987).
The campaign for official English is based on arguments such as the necessary role of
English as a bonding agent in the multicultural country, today's immigrants do not learn
English, and coercive methods have to be used in order for English to be learnt. Other
arguments used by these organisations are that language diversity leads to ethnic conflict and
that newcomers entail an increase in costs in the areas of welfare and unemployment
(Crawford 2000:6-8). With regard to reactions to a speech by the secretary of education,
William Bennett, in the mid 80s against the Bilingual Education Act, Crawford notes that
letters of support to the secretary focused on changes in the demography and cultural contact.
Some of the comments were of
illegal aliens on welfare, communities being overrun by Asians and Hispanics, "machooriented" foreigners trying to impose their culture on Americans, and – a special concern –
the out-of-control birth rates of linguistic minorities. Some writers singled out particular
groups for abuse: "Today's Hispanics, on the whole lack the motivation of earlier
immigrants." Others worried that they would be "forced to learn a foreign language" (i.e.,
Spanish) or that the interests of the "English-speaking majority" would be sacrificed on
the altar of affirmative action… (Crawford 1992:4).
US English Inc founded in 1983 by US Senator Hayakawa aimed to make English the
official language of the US with the claim that this measure would help immigrants learn and
speak English. English is seen as necessary for immigrants to succeed in the country. As
mentioned briefly above, the endeavours of US English Inc have influenced several states to
pass laws for official English (Spolsky 2004:106, 108). In 1986, California approved
Proposition 63 which was a language referendum for English-only initiatives, but which did
not affect the actual language behaviour in the society (Schiffman 1996:270-272). The
English First movement supported the English-only initiatives and was against Executive
Order 13166 of 2000 that, in light of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, aimed at improving the
accessibility of federal programmes and activities by individuals with limited proficiency in
English. The English for the Children movement was also against bilingual education and
reached a degree of success in several states e.g. the approval of Californian Proposition 227
in 1998, as well as in Colorado, Massachusetts and Arizona (Spolsky 2004:106, 108). An
anti-bilingual initiative, based on California's Proposition 227, passed in Arizona with 63 per
cent of the votes in November 2000 (Schmid 2001:172, 175). According to these
organisations, the present policy towards languages in the United States constitute a threat to
English by facilitating language shift from English towards other languages (Spolsky
2004:106, 108).
In this context, it is worth pointing out that language policy choices in the educational
field are of importance because they not only have direct consequences of how education
should be delivered, such as which language is to be used in teaching today, but also affect the
linguistic repertoires of future generations. According to Patten and Kymlicka, legislation and
public initiatives in some of the states in the US have endeavoured to limit the use of bilingual
programmes in schools aimed at children with limited proficiency in English (Patten and
Kymlicka 2003:21; see also Schmidt 2000:18-19). Californian Proposition 227 has as
objective the removal of the majority of bilingual classes in state public schools (Schmidt
2000:81). Criticism of bilingual educational programmes lasted throughout their
implementation and although successful, they also failed in some situations. The Californian
referendum Proposition 227 in 1998 to remove bilingual education was passed on the basis of
these failures. Similar criteria were also successful in Arizona and Massachusetts leading to a
majority of votes for the removal of bilingual education (Spolsky 2004:104).
The Bill Emerson English Language Empowerment Act for English as the official
language of the government was approved in the House of Representatives in 1996 but later
died in the Senate. The bill included that all naturalisation ceremonies were to be held in
English and further repealed the bilingual voting provisions of the VRA (Schildkraut
By 1999, 22 states had passed symbolic declarations making English the official language
(Schmidt 2000:29). These symbolic gestures can influence individuals' identification with the
state or with their own linguistic group. Any policy regarding a particular language affects the
daily life of its speakers and their interaction with members inside and outside their
community. Choice as to which language should be used in public institutions such as courts
and legislatures, both in internal communication and also in communication with the public
on matters of rights and duty, can be regarded as an excluding process and even unjust and
may lead to conflict. According to Patten and Kymlicka, in August 2000, President Clinton
passed an Executive Order based on the Civil Rights Act's prohibition of discriminating
measures, to provide service to people with limited proficiency in English e.g. by organising
translations and employment of bilingual persons (Patten and Kymlicka 2003).
In the 108th Congress, attempts to achieve legislation at a federal level regarding English
had not died and in 2003 the National Language Act (H.R. 931) was introduced in the House
of Representatives and was sent to committee. The Act states that
The Government of the United States shall preserve and enhance the role of English as the
official language of the United States of America. Unless specifically stated in applicable
law, no person has a right, entitlement, or claim to have the Government of the United
States or any of its officials or representatives act, communicate, perform or provide
services, or provide materials in any language other than English. If exceptions are made,
that does not create a legal entitlement to additional services in that language or any
language other than English (National Language Act H.R. 931).
It is interesting to note the name of the bill as the "National Language Act" but the text refers
to "English as the official language of the United States" which from a sociolinguistic
language policy perspective carries different implications in which the former is symbolic and
the latter affects the interaction between government institutions and individuals in their daily
life. The Act further repeals the Bilingual Education Act and terminates the Office of
Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs. It also repeals bilingual voting
requirements and imposes the requirement of the English language in ceremonies of
admittance of new citizens (National Language Act 2003:H.R. 931).
In sum, recent language debates in the United States have been triggered by three changes.
Firstly, during the 1980s and 1990s, large immigration waves brought attention to the
increasing linguistic and multicultural composition of the nation. Bilingualism was seen as a
threat to national unity and increased the perception that new immigrants were not learning
English. Secondly, language entitlements such as the Bilingual Education Act of 1968 and the
1975 amendments to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 increased the language controversy.
Thirdly, the 1965 immigration legislation in which racial criteria were removed from the
United States immigration laws brought new challenges to the melting pot concept since
many minority groups were still experiencing economic and social disadvantages (Schmid
2001:8). Schmid further states that the civil rights movement had an impact on the social and
legal systems which consequently put forward measures to increase civil rights as well as
protection to groups and individuals. As response to these changes the official English
movement was organised. Americans felt resentment in paying taxes for the benefits of
immigrants and perceived civil rights and protective measures as threats: "In general, there
has been a sense of vulnerability that has torn away at America's sense of security and
identity"(Schmid 2001:4-8, 39). Insecurity is expressed by a desire for more restricted
immigration, an increase of conflict between different ethnic groups and an increase in
movements supporting language policy to strengthen English. Also, the referendum in 1995 in
Canada regarding the sovereignty of Quebec has increased concerns that the unity of America
is threatened (Schmid 2001:4-8, 39). The size and perceived language maintenance of Latinos
especially in the Southern states of the US may cause some people to suggest that America
may be on the same path as Quebec. The amendment to the immigration bill passed by the
Senate in 2006 may be seen as a reaction to this concern. Finally, according to Schmid, the
rapid increase of Asians (385 percent) and Hispanics (141 percent) between 1970-1990
increased patriotism and nationalist sentiments. The recognition of bilingualism by the
government has also contributed to place "language as a source of conflict in the political
arena" (Schmid 2001:42).
The following section gives an overview of the legislative system in the US in order to
describe some of the factors involved in language and immigration policy making.
2.2.1 Legislation process
In the United States the governmental power and functions are distributed in three branches –
executive, judicial and legislative ( 2009). The executive branch composed of the
president, vice president, the cabinet members (heads of departments) and the heads of the
independent agencies, is the governmental power in charge of enforcing laws. The judicial
branch deals with discussions regarding the meaning of laws and their application. This
governmental section also reviews laws to make sure that they do not break the Constitution.
The legislative branch refers to the bicameral Congress comprised of the Senate and the
House of Representatives, as well as agencies that assist the Congress ( 2009).
The American political system is based on a notion of "separation of powers" in which the
Congress has the legislative power and its main function is to make laws. The duration of a
Congress is two years. Among the sources of legislation, the idea and draft forwarded by a
Member is primary. Also, some ideas for legislation may originate from the Members'
constituents, individuals or groups (Johnson 2003). The legislative process is further
described as emphasising the "protection of the minority, allowing ample opportunity to all
sides to be heard and make their views known. The fact that a proposal cannot become a law
without consideration and approval by both Houses of Congress…." is seen as a sign of a
good legislative system (Johnson 2003).
The Senate has two members from each state, each holding one vote – regardless of the
population size. Following the 108th Congress, the House of Representatives is composed by
435 Members which are elected every other year from the states in accordance to their
population size. Each member of the House has one vote. In addition, a Resident
Commissioner from Puerto Rico and Delegates from the District of Columbia, American
Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands are included. However the Resident Commissioner and
the Delegates cannot vote in the House (Johnson 2003).
The federal government shares power with the individual states. The power of the
individual state is guaranteed in the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution by imposing
restrictions on the extent of federal government actions (Hallenberg 1998; United States
Senate 1996). Nevertheless, state law must be in line with federal law.
3 Building bricks for societal security
This section introduces aspects that the present author believes are relevant for a language
analysis using a societal security perspective on the official English debate in the United
States. The concept of societal security is core to this study and is further developed in section
4.1. However a short reference to the definition of societal security is that it has its focus point
on identity and concerns the existence of real or perceived threats to the sustainment of a
collective identity. In light of this, the accounts below deal with various aspects that relate to
identity in the United States. Thus aspects that can define a collective are taken up (sections
3.1 Race, ethnicity and national identity; 3.2 Multiculturalism; 3.4 Speech community; and
3.5 Loyalty and trust) and focus is placed on those aspects related to language as an identity
marker (sections: 3.1 regarding national identity; 3.3 Multilingualism; 3.6 Habitus and
symbolic domination; 3.7 Language shift; and 3.8 Language conflict and language contact).
Since societal security falls within the constructivist view, the presentation will mainly relate
to the view of human relations as socially constructed. To begin with, the concepts of 'race'
and 'ethnicity' are discussed since these categories are significant in the construction and
perception of collective entities.
3.1 Race, ethnicity and national identity
The significance of identity for societal security, its treatment in various academic and non
academic writings, and references to identity in informal everyday situations entails that there
is such a phenomenon that is discussed and therefore can be studied. The concepts of 'race'
and 'ethnicity' are two ways in which identity can be established. In this study, these concepts
are taken to be socially constructed. A social constructivist approach "rests on the belief that
reality is socially constructed and emphasises language as an important means by which we
interpret experience" (DeLamater and Hyde 1998; see also Berger and Luckmann 1966 for
further discussion of the influence of language in the construction of the individual's
"knowing" in everyday life). Essentialism is the opposing view to social constructivism and is
based on a fixed essence to a "form" that does not change over time. It is this form that creates
discontinuity between forms. One form is different from the other since it has a different
essence and thus continuous variation is not considered in this perspective. This is based on a
belief that things are unavoidable, natural as givens and determined in biological terms
(DeLamater and Hyde 1998). It could be argued that a problem with this view is that it entails
that it is possible to identify a core essence. If one leaves aside biological/physical
distinctions, it is difficult to determine the core abstract essence of for instance an individual's
personality. There is further the difficulty of determining the relationship between the core
physical and abstract identities that make up one individual. The social constructivist view
allows for influence from the social environment on the individual's personality and
possibilities or life chances, while also taking account of givens such as defining, visible
physical characteristics that position the individual in social interaction.
When referring to race certain physical features are distinguished by individuals in a
community as having social significance for marking group differences and boundaries. This
implies that the choice of whether skin or hair colour carries social meaning for identity
marking constructs the idea of race in a community. Giddens offers a definition of race as a
set of social relationships which allow individuals and groups to be located, and various
attributes of competencies assigned, on the basis of biologically grounded features. Racial
distinctions are more than ways of describing human differences – they are also important
factors in the reproduction of patterns of power and inequality within society (Giddens
The term 'race' is often placed within inverted commas to emphasise its disputed
descriptive value. Also, since race is seen as a social construct with or without 'biological'
basis, it is difficult to refer to stable boundaries between races (Giddens 2001:246). More
variation is seen to exist inside a group denominated as constituting a race than between
different racial groups. Furthermore, certain attributes are often fixed to an individual's
personality based on their race membership (Eriksen 1997:34).
In respect of contact between different language groups, Schmidt's (2002) critical
discourse study of racialisation in the debate regarding English-only in the United States has
shown that there are two group formations which refer to race, the pluralists and the
assimilationists. The pluralists argue that the policy of official-English as promoted by the
assimilationists is racist. On the other hand, the assimilationists themselves claim that they
aim to create an inclusive and equal society, which is prevented by bilingualism. Schmidt's
paper further argues that socially constructed power relations link the English language with
'whiteness'. There is an ideological context in which Americans that do not speak English and
who are not of European origin are racialised as the Others (Schmidt 2002). With regard to
the debate of official English, Gonzalez and Melis (2001) view the English-only movement as
undemocratic since it aims at excluding the linguistic and racial Other from the public sphere
and constructing, by implication, the public sphere as white and middle class. From a different
perspective, while creating a relation to notions of superiority through dehumanisation, Santa
Ana's research of metaphorical portrayals of Latinos in the Los Angeles Times during the
period from 1992 to 1998 (Santa Ana 2002:56) showed that immigrants were predominantly
portrayed as animals, invaders or carrying sub-human qualities, in which the immigrant as an
individual is lost in a collective view. The metaphor immigrant as animal was the most
dominant metaphor in the LA Times. In Santa Ana's study, immigration is further represented
as a danger or threat – burden, dirt, disease, invasion, and waves/waters. The metaphor
immigration as dangerous waters was the most dominant metaphor associated to the
movement of people arriving in the United States (Santa Ana 2002:72, 83). According to him,
this type of public discourse brings forward a negative view of immigrants (Santa Ana
'Ethnicity' is a term used to distinguish groups on the basis of cultural practices and the
social meanings attached to them. The most common characteristics that distinguish ethnic
groups from each other are "language, history or ancestry (real or imagined), religion and
styles of dress or adornment" and are based on factors that are learned (Giddens 2001:246)
that is, they are acquired through socialisation. Ethnicity is produced and reproduced as a
social phenomenon and provides an identity based on history. The use of ethnicity is
considered problematic since it may function as a collective term to refer to those that do not
belong to the dominant culture thus creating boundaries between 'us' and 'them'. Although
ethnicity is a term to be applied to all members of any group, it is often used in relation to
minority groups (Giddens 2001:247-248), indicating stable patterns of power relations.
Moreover, a group that is dominant in one country may constitute an ethnic minority group in
another country.
According to some scholars, 'new racism' has substituted the old "biological" racism. 'New
racism' also referred to as 'cultural racism' discriminates against certain groups based on
cultural differences. Thus groups that differ culturally from the majority are marginalised or
criticised for not assimilating. By some, 'new racism' is seen to have a political aspect, as in
the support by some politicians for official 'English-only' language policies in the United
States (Giddens 2001:252).
The concepts of 'race' and 'ethnicity' can be seen as relevant to societal security in the US
since it is a country built on immigration of various groups. Its past history especially as
regards slavery is one in which domination was justified with arguments of racial difference.
The US Census Bureau for population statistics uses race as a category and there are
references to Latinos as brown people and to African-American individuals as black. The
concept of ethnicity is interesting from the debate on official English since this language is
historically linked to the arrival of white Anglo-Saxon descendants to the country. 6 From a
societal security perspective, the large immigrant population of Hispanics as carriers of the
Spanish language carries implications for identity construction in the United States (see
subsections 3.1.1 and 3.1.2 for further discussions on the formation of a national identity).
When groups carrying distinguishing characteristics that form a boundary for
identification come in contact with other groups, new forms of interaction are created. These
usually feature maintenance of identity. It is possible to say that a negotiation of social
relationships takes place, which may be the result or may result in one group feeling that their
identity, and thus their societal security, is threatened. In most cases, the minority is expected
to move towards the culture of the majority in different processes such as assimilation and
The specific content of the term 'assimilation' varies among scholars but it is in general
terms used to describe the processes and the results of inter-ethnic contact in which one group
takes on features from another group to the extent of replacing its original culture. Several
terms are used in relation to assimilation, such as 'amalgamation' which Gordon defines as the
blending of races as a biological fusion by "interbreeding and intermarriage" and contrasts it
to assimilation which he initially states is restricted to the "fusion of cultures" but later in his
presentation of full assimilation places amalgamation as one of the stages (Gordon 1964). R.
E. Park has further defined assimilation in reference to cultural behaviour with political
implications. For him, (social) assimilation is "the name given to the process or processes by
which peoples of diverse racial origins and different cultural heritages, occupying a common
territory, achieve a cultural solidarity sufficient at least to sustain a national existence" and
also that assimilation has only taken place when the immigrant as a member in the particular
society does not encounter discrimination or prejudice (R.E. Park as cited in Gordon
1964:63). This view entails social change in which certain distinctions defining ethnicity
would either disappear or would not be considered as significant for marking difference in the
given society. The view of membership can thus be said to be based on the acceptance of an
individual by the group and is to a certain extent beyond the individual's control.
In his study of the delimiting boundaries of the Lue people in Thailand, Moerman (1965)
suggests that an emic membership to an ethnic group must be considered i.e. the individual's
own beliefs, identification, and behaviour which confirm their belonging rather than objective
During the Second World War, the term 'ethnics' was used in the United States in relation to particular groups
(e.g. Jews, Italians, Irish) that were seen to be inferior to those of British descent (Eriksen 1997:33).
etic boundaries being determined. Moerman (1965) shifts the definition of ethnic membership
to an emic category which in anthropological literature refers to that view which originates
from the native or culture and contrasts with etic which is based on the concepts and
descriptions of the researcher and are considered as culturally neutral. The researcher or more
specifically for Moerman's study, the ethnographer must "discover, in each instance, which
features are locally significant for purposes of assigning labels" (Moerman 1965:1220), which
in the view of the present author can be extended to sociolinguistic studies of language policy,
i.e. making the emic identity as most relevant for successful language intervention (see also
Spolsky's model in section 4.2 for the significance of people's beliefs in language policy
According to Eriksen, the possibility of the individual affecting their own membership is
associated to the idea of ethnicity as a relational concept and not a static property. Further, its
relational characteristic includes the idea of minimum contact between groups that regard
each other as culturally different and that the cultural differences are visible and regularly
noticed in inter-group interaction. In this way, inter-ethnic relations are a result of the
perception of cultural differences as socially relevant. Ethnicity constitutes a social identity as
it is held in contrast with others. Eriksen further states that ethnicity carries both the political
and symbolic aspects based on organisational gains and losses in inter-group interaction as
well as the creation of identity (Eriksen 1997:39). It is also worth considering that if factors of
group disadvantages and advantages become salient, they may lead to ethnolinguistic
mobilisations based on relative deprivation.
Weber (1997:18) defines 'ethnic groups' as "those human groups that entertain a subjective
belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both,
or because of memories of colonization or migration". Members of ethnic groups are linked
by an identity that is presumed. The belief in a shared ethnicity is mainly due to the
organisation of a political community, which often continues even when the political
community dissolves (Weber 1997:19).
Although there are variations of custom and physical resemblance within members of
groups that feel affinity within a particular territory, group belonging is also a strong
sentiment among immigrants. This identification may lead to group formations based on
sentiments of relationship to the common native country even though the individuals may not
consider returning to their country of origin and are adjusted to the host country (Weber
1997:18). Thus, although foreign-born individuals may maintain their mother tongue they
may not have any desire of returning to their home country. Also, it is worth adding that an
expressed affinity to their native country may be imposed by outsiders who group individuals
under one shared label implying and constructing their homogeneity and affinity. According
to Weber, language can also contribute to a perception of similarity after the political
community has broken up. However, if members of the community experience significant
differences within themselves as regards custom, physiology and particularly language, the
belief of a shared ethnicity may not survive political disintegration (Weber 1997:18).
3.1.1 Language and the state
Anderson (1991:6-7) provides the concept of 'imagined community' as an explanation for the
feeling of unity that members of a nation may feel in relation to its sovereignty, as well as the
perception and image that community members have towards each other even though they
will never interact directly. In this definition, the nation is imagined as a community because,
even though there may exist inequality and exploitation, "the nation is always conceived as a
deep, horizontal comradeship" (Anderson 1991:6-7). Similarly, Weber uses the concept of
'nation' as a "pathos which is linked to the idea of a powerful political community of people
who share a common language, or religion, or common customs, or political memories". In
addition to these factors, Weber further includes race to the list as a source for generating
national identification. A state in this form may already exist or may be desired (Weber
1997:26). Thus from the perspective of societal security, it is when the collective identity that
is considered to function as a "glue" for membership and is accepted as such by the members
is threatened, that ethnic differences become more salient and ethnic boundaries more
pronounced. It is at this point, that the choice of what constitutes the social focus of ethnic
differentiation is significant.
Ager recognises three types of communities or social groups in a society namely the
speech community, the political community, and the ethnic community. In the speech
community, members are linked by language. The political community relies on political
organisation and its documents. Within this type of grouping, membership to the state or
citizenship is realised through jus soli based on residency within the territory or jus sanguinis
based on birth. The third type of community Ager presents is the ethnic community in which
the members are unified by a perceived shared origin (Ager 1999:4-6).
Based on Ager's definitions of community, language may be seen as a contributing factor
for distinguishing groups and creating group membership. In line with the focus of this study,
it may be said that Ager's perspective also allows for language to contribute to a possible
perception of threat to an existing group. For Ager, nationalism can provide a motive for
language policy making and planning (Ager 2001:13-39). In other words, identity, especially
its expression in nationalism, represents a motive for language intervention.
The word 'nationalism' however, implies different goals and attitudes, such as nationalism
as a defensive response to globalisation, nationalism based on xenophobic attitudes to other
nations originating in colonialism, fear of or concern about powerful neighbouring nations, or
nationalism that is expressed in relation to granting collective and the individual (political,
economic and language) rights in which the collective right is often imposed on the individual
both by authorities as well as minority and regional communities. In the case of language the
issue is often regarding education (Ager 2001:37-38). Moreover, Ager presents France as an
example of a nationalism that relies on conceptions of the superiority of France, its culture
and ideas of the French Revolution and the Republic. This ethnic-based notion rejects
regional or immigrant particularism in favour of assimilation converging on one language,
culture and territory – factors that represent symbols of unity and act as guarantors of the
continuing of the state (Ager 2001:19). In contrast, nationalisms can also be based on a
rationalist approach e.g. the autonomy of Catalonia in Spain in which the interpretation of
nationalism relies on the speakers within the region. Language has a central role in Catalonian
identity and the emphasis is on a shared linguistic identity rather than ethnicity, homogeneity
and assimilation (Ager 2001:25) since there are several other language groups in the
autonomous community. In the context of the United States, it may be possible to assume that
the French and Catalonian types of nationalisms are present if one takes account of references
to the notions expressed in the Constitution and Founding papers, particularly the liberal view
on freedom and equality similar to references regarding the French Revolution, as well as the
idea of uniting diverse language groups under one language of communication, namely
English, similar to the function of the Catalonian language.
According to Gellner, nationalism has its roots in the requirements of the industrial
society. Nationalism is linked to education through the demands of the modern industrial
society based on the idea of sustained growth which requires availability of labour and the
possibility of communication across the society. The provision of a widespread labour force
with common basis entails the supply of education to individuals through specialists whereby
an obligatory shift of supply of knowledge from the local group to a central educational
system takes place. Thus nationalism is "the organization of human groups into large,
centrally educated, culturally homogeneous units..." (Gellner 1997:66). Since this view of
educational infrastructure is large and costly, the state is seen as the only actor capable of
enforcing and sustaining a homogeneous culture which is no longer diversified and based on
locally distinguished, illiterate cultures or traditions. Therefore,
the employability, dignity, security and self-respect of individuals, typically, and for the
majority of men now hinges on their education; and the limits of the culture within which
they were educated are also the limits of the world within which they can, morally and
professionally, breathe. A man's education is by far his most precious investment, and in
effect confers his identity on him (Gellner 1997:65-68).
These considerations bring forward the significance of knowledge of the dominant
language in a particular country which in the case of the US, and of relevance for this study,
would be proficiency in English for the individual's "employability, dignity, security and selfrespect" and identification (Gellner 1997:67).
Thus, the term 'nationalism' is, like 'ethnicity', based on cultural similarities. For Eriksen,
nationalism is defined on an idea of state in which cultural boundaries and political
boundaries coincide. In addition, within this definition, if an ethnic movement makes
demands for the establishment of an independent state it becomes a nationalist movement
(Eriksen 1997:35). Based on this view, it is possible to state that since the definition of an
ethnic group may vary, the content of nationalist movements may also vary, depending on
what is considered to be socially significant.
The instability of ethnic identities may be related to Fasold's (1984:4, 8) view that
multinational states are less stable than nation-states. Departing from the prominent role
language has for nationalism, the sense of nation is regarded by him as more problematic for a
multilingual state. Fasold suggests two possible alternatives for a state, namely to develop a
national language – and deal with the problem of selection – or to create a nationalism that
does not rest on language. A state can contain one or more languages, although those that
have several language groups within its borders often have one official language. However,
sharing a language does not entail a sentiment of national identity, as the conflict in the
Former Yugoslavia has demonstrated (Fasold 1984:4, 8). In the same way, groups speaking
distinct languages from the majority may still perceive a shared feeling of nation with the
main group as in the sense of belonging to the French 'nation' felt by German speaking
individuals of Alsace based on a shared culture and political past (Weber 1997:24). Pavlenko
and Blackledge summarise the relationship language and identity as complex, in which
language is used for various objectives which may appear together or isolated. Language may
be used to mark national and ethnic identities, may function as symbolic capital, or may be
used as a tool for social control e.g. by imposition of languages on a minority or immigrant
group. They further claim that aspects of power are always either explicitly or implicitly
present in different forms of language use (Pavlenko and Blackledge 2003:2).
Romaine (1995:316) states that in the case where assimilation attempts by the dominant
culture lead to strengthening differences between the groups, language and dialect are
sometimes used as symbols of identification. Some ethnicity movements find expression
through emphasising language. In a similar vein, Giddens states that in inter-group contact in
which there is a majority and a minority situation, the notion of sharing common interests and
loyalty to the minority group is often increased if a member of the minority group experiences
prejudice and discrimination. Thus, opinions and attitudes built on stereotypes about a group
may lead to a stronger social cohesion of the minority group, even though no negative action
is taken towards the group (Giddens 2001:248, 251). Since stereotypes distort reality and are,
to a certain extent, fixed and difficult to change, stereotypical characterisations of a particular
group (Giddens 2001:250) are sometimes used to assess individuals of the group – regardless
of whether these are perceived as positive or negative. Thus from this standpoint, it can be
argued that an individual's action that can be linked to a group stereotype strengthens it for all
the individuals in the group, which consequently leads to the boundary between the individual
and the group becoming fuzzy and reinforcing each other due to mutual referencing.
The construction of in-group and out-group membership as regards immigrant integration
in the US, reflects Petersson's (2003:6) claim that individuals who are associated to a
collective identity may draw advantages from their group belonging. However, those not
included in the group are marginalised. Exclusion from membership in groups can have
negative consequences if individuals are experienced as the Other or as enemies e.g. as in the
case of first generation immigrants. This is particularly relevant in cases where relations of
power are in play. The creation of Otherness can be related to Saussure's view of the
production of meaning through language in a network based on relationships of similarities
and differences (Saussure 1972:113-114). The relationship is established by the presence of
signs that carry two forms, the signal, which is the physical form (also referred to as
'signifier'), and the 'signified' referring to the mental concept that the signifier points to.
Different signs should carry different meanings since absolute synonyms do not exist. The
system is built to accommodate the scope of meaning of each sign in relation to the other
terms in the system (Saussure 1972:67, 114). This may serve to be particularly interesting in
the construction of identities since it can be related to the degree of generality or specification
of terms which reflect perceptions of attitudes and differences, and to the possibility of
integrating new words into semantic domains of nation-related group identification.
Furthermore, Said's theory of representation is useful in considering the establishment of
immigrants as the Other in the United States. Focusing on the portrayal of the Orient by the
West, Said claims that the western cultural hegemonic discourse of Orientalism identifying
the European 'us' from the non-European 'them' creates the idea that the European identity is
superior to other non-European cultures: "In a quite constant way, Orientalism depends for its
strategy on this flexible positional superiority, which puts the westerner in a whole series of
possible relationships with the Orient without ever losing him the relative upper hand" (Said
1978:7). The Oriental is given voice through the Westerner, and it is the Westerner, by
assumption of their own superiority, that knows what the Oriental feels and also what is best
for them (Said 1978:35, 41). The negative images of the Arab in the United States, Said
claims, are encircled in "racism, cultural stereotypes, political imperialism, dehumanizing
ideology" (Said 1978:26). Said focuses on how the Orient is represented and on the
"unnatural" descriptions of it (Said 1978:21). The issue of truth is contrasted to representation
in that written language is not a "delivered presence but a re-presence, or a representation"
(Said 1978:21). History is seen as reconstructing its Others through the establishment of
opposites in a process of struggle. Debates about what stands for Frenchness or Britishness is
a process of interpreting identities in relation to Others. These struggles may find their
expression in the political sphere such as in immigration policies (Said 1978:332). Therefore,
in the United States, the representation of immigrants as Others may not only be reflected in
arguments for particular immigration measures, but also in demands for official English –
thus keeping an unequal status of languages in the country and affecting access to information
by non-English speaking groups, which may lead to perceptions of threat among these
minority groups.
When dealing with challenges posed by contact between different ethnic groups,
multiethnic societies assume three models of ethnic incorporation – assimilation, the melting
pot, and pluralism. The model of assimilation entails that immigrants adopt the values and
norms of the majority population in their entirety (section 3.7 Language shift and language
maintenance can be read with the concept of 'assimilation' in mind). Thus immigrants are
expected to abandon their language, way of dressing, lifestyles and cultural views in order to
be part of the society. Within this view, children of immigrants should become 'Americans'.
At the same time, these second generation immigrants actively construct the image of the
United States as a "nation of immigrants" (Giddens 2001:256-257). While assimilation of
minority groups entails a one-sided change of culture in order to participate in the larger
society, the concept of 'integration' in the context of the United States, according to Bernard
(1967), has allowed for difference of culture within a frame of social cohesion. However, for
Gordon (1964:68, 246) integration is just one stage in the goal towards complete assimilation.
The concept of 'integration' in the model of the melting pot as described by Giddens (2001)
involves the development of cultural patterns based on the blending of immigrant cultures to
the pre-existing population's culture creating new diverse environments, similar to the
amalgamation stage presented by Gordon (1964) although this was based on a notion of
biological blending. In Gidden's description, the immigrant population's traditions and
customs help shape the social environment of the receiving country. In the case of the United
States, different groups have contributed to the appearance of a hybrid culture in the country
although the historical positioning of the "Anglo" culture has maintained dominance. The
third model of cultural pluralism refers to the creation of a plural society in which subcultures
are recognised as equal. In this perspective, members of ethnic minority groups should have
the same rights as those of the majority population and ethnic differences are respected as a
significant part of the national life. In the United States, ethnic differences relate primarily to
inequality rather than equal but independent membership in the national community (Giddens
2001:256-257). The last two models may be difficult to achieve fully in practice since they
entail that dominating groups would not feel existential threats from minorities and are
pragmatic to different cultures even if they carry the possibility of a diminishing of their own
dominant status or a demand/request of a shared status of cultures. In the case of the melting
pot model, there is the question of what aspects of culture are allowed to become hybrid? In
other words, in the case of language, this could be reflected in the function (domains) of the
various languages in the American society which would also be a matter of resource
availability at the state level for provision of services in these languages. Also, if there are
many ethnic groups, carrying different languages, the problem arises how a pluralistic model
is possible if all languages are not included in the provision of services. Another factor is if
hybrid language culture includes aspects of code switching – the back and forth switching
between languages in the same conversation – and if so, if this is compatible with national
identity construction. In the reference above, Giddens (2001) points out that the Anglo culture
has maintained a dominant position in the United States. This implies that the underlying
position is of inequality of status (cf. Said's 1978 reference to "flexible positional superiority";
see section 4.2 for goals of language policy with regard to models of society based on
assimilation/monolingualism or pluralism/multilingualism and more specifically section 4.2.3
for insecurity as a motive for language policy making). Appiah states that collective identities
originate cultural identities which are created in structured relations, and are the result – not
the cause – of conflict. Thus, identity allegiances should be regarded as constructed and liable
to change (Appiah 2005:64), and can be linked to Gumperz's claim that language can have an
active role in the production and maintenance of social and ethnic identities (Gumperz
1982:7), and also a shared perception of community.
3.1.2 Language and identity construction
This thesis takes a poststructuralist approach to identity. Poststructuralism adds the role of
power to the social constructionist perspective of identities, i.e. identities are seen as produced
and negotiated in discursive interaction. Furthermore, hybridity is considered as a
characteristic of identity, which entails that identity is not dichotomised or limited (Pavlenko
and Blackledge 2003:13).
Fishman applies the view of socially constructed identities to ethnicity and identity, and
argues that if ethnic identity is constructed then linguistic identity – since it is often linked to
ethnic identity – must also be constructed. He further argues that feelings of belonging can
vary in intensity in situations of conflict. Languages can be used for uniting and creating
group identity and group loyalty, as well as to divide groups. Both involve making a
distinction between 'them' (external features, i.e. not 'us' or in the case of nationality –"not a
French national" or of relevance to this study "not an American national") and 'us' (internal
features, which also includes a shared heritage, belief systems and a language i.e. to be a
French or an American national and not a Swiss for instance) to define groups (Fishman
1999:154). In a related way, Le Page and Tabouret-Keller claim that labelling a language in
relation to a specific group in which the language not only "denote[s] the linguistic system felt
to be the property of the group, language as used by them, but also connote[s] the social
values attached to the group…" (Le Page and Tabouret-Keller 1985:235). The particular
language becomes a separate entity that can be claimed and is therefore a possession that is
specific to the group. It also becomes the carrier of the social values of the group. In this
quality, if the language is threatened, the group will act to protect it as a possession (Le Page
and Tabouret-Keller 1985:234-236).
Moreover, linking language and identity in group formations, May (2005) refers to the
instrumental quality of language and states that the ability to communicate in a specific
language entails the ability to identify with individuals as well as the ethnic, and national
identities to which the language is associated (May 2005). In the same way, Taylor sees the
role of language in defining an individual's identity as the result of interaction with other
people that are significant to the individual (Taylor 1994a:32). Thus, identities may be
distinguished in the processes of interactions with others.
Appiah suggests that every collective identity is formed by three elements. Firstly, the
collective is formed by the availability of terms in public discourse that categorise some
people as members of a particular group. These terms are shared by the majority of members
of a particular society, and there is a degree of consensus regarding them such as the
formulation of stereotypes (which may be true or false), what the typical group member is
like, their typical behaviour, and how they can be recognised. Secondly, these labels/terms
undergo a process of internalisation to form the identity of individuals, i.e. individuals
construct and view themselves as members of the group. This identification affects the
behaviour of the individual since they will tend to act in conformity with expectations. Lastly,
the third element refers to the existence of patterns of behaviour towards the members of
specific groups. Behaviour and treatment towards a given individual is based on identification
of their group membership (Appiah 2005:66-69).
Therefore, according to Appiah, the attachment of a label affects how individuals are
viewed at the social and psychological level since perception is restricted to available labels,
which mark and construct the identities that are accessible. The individual enacts their own
identity and makes choices based on identification with labels – factors which influence the
construction of their own identity (Appiah 2005:66) and relations to others. In this context,
one can refer to the use of the collective term 'Hispanic' in the US which according to Daniels
is artificial since it identifies Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans who only resemble each
other in aspects of language, religion and poverty (Daniels 1990: 326). In respect to this, it is
further worth noting that the Hispanic group is the only group in the US that is defined by the
language that its members speak (Appiah 2005:115). Kymlicka also considers the problems
linked to the label of 'Hispanic' by referring to its use in the US Census since the 1960s in
which all ethnic or national Spanish speaking groups, namely Puerto Ricans, Chicanos,
Cubans, Mexicans, Spaniards, etc. are aggregated under a label which thus includes national
minorities such as the Puerto Ricans and immigrants from Latin America. These groups may
have different linguistic integration goals. Cuban refugees and illegal Mexican migrant
workers, who are also grouped under the 'Hispanic' label, have different motives as regards
the acquisition of English in relation to each other and other Spanish speaking groups. Cubans
see themselves as exiles and expect to return within a short time to Cuba. Also, the larger
society does not place great efforts in attempting to linguistically integrate them. Mexicans
are in a similar situation but their return is involuntary since if they are illegal, they are under
a constant risk of deportation and they do not have access to the language learning
programmes that are offered to other immigrants (Kymlicka 1995:16).
Romaine states that some immigrants may experience feelings of rootlessness caught
between two cultures but not really belonging to either their country of origin or the host
country. Acceptance of bilingualism by the greater society becomes an important factor for
identity formation of the immigrant individual (Romaine 1995:315). In her study of attitudes
in Californian newspapers regarding Proposition 63 for making English the official language
of the state of California, MacKaye claims that language serves as a site for beliefs and
attitudes. The supporters and opponents of the English language movement both argue from
similar views on language, namely language as a common bond, language as ethnicity, and
language as access. Language is also used as an ethnic boundary marker of 'us' and 'them'.
Mackaye concludes with a claim that language policy makers need to have a holistic approach
on language policy decisions (MacKaye 1990).
Ethnic and cultural diversity in societies are mainly a consequence of migratory
movements. Also, the arrival of immigrants in a country has demographic, economic and
social consequences. According to Buzan (1991, 1998) immigration is one of the most
significant factors for a real or perceived threat to societal security in the host country (see
section 4.1). Giddens states that the current increase in immigration rates in western countries
and the challenge it poses to ideas of present day national identity have led to a revision of the
notion of citizenship. In the case of the United States, the classic model of migration has been
adopted in which immigrants have been encouraged to come to the country – although limited
by quotas and restrictions on intake – and citizenship has been granted. However, illegal
models of immigration have increased as a result of stricter immigration laws in many
western countries. In the US, there is a growing number of Mexican "illegal aliens" (Giddens
2001:258-259), a factor that has drawn attention to the need to improve border control
The question of citizenship and illegality can be related to the different formations of
ethnicity in states suggested by Kymlicka (2002:349). According to him, there are five
ethnocultural groups in western democracies, namely national minorities, immigrants, metics,
racial caste, and isolationist ethnoreligious groups, such as the Amish (Kymlicka 2002:349).
A description of these identity formations – with the exception of the isolationist
ethnoreligious group will follow since this type of collective is defined by virtue of its
religion-based separateness rather than ethnolinguistic contact.
National minorities, are groups that had societies in the territory before being incorporated
into a larger state e.g. through conquest, annexation or union. The Hispanics in Mexico after
the war in 1848 are an example of such a group. They were subjected to the imposition of
literacy tests and experienced the arrival en masse of non-Spanish speaking individuals based
on a policy aimed at outnumbering Hispanics in the region (Kymlicka 1995:11-12). In spite of
this, the Chicanos in the South West of the United States have not mobilised in order to regain
the establishment of Spanish speaking institutions. This factor can be compared to the actions
taken by the Puerto Ricans, who demonstrate nationalist awareness by mobilising to maintain
Spanish speaking institutions and self-governing rights after involuntary incorporation into
the US in 1898. These examples indicate that the claims for national recognition and
maintenance by minority groups vary (Kymlicka 2002:351, 363; Kymlicka 1995:11-12).
Disempowerment of national minorities has been based on a need to eliminate the feeling of
loyalty these groups have to a particular national identity since this is seen as a threat that
might lead to secessionist claims. However, based on recent studies, the acceptance of the
distinct nationality of national minorities has become a way of guaranteeing loyalty to the
state of these groups (Kymlicka 2002:351-352, 363). This can be related to the initial
allowance of linguistic diversity in the eighteenth century as a way of guaranteeing loyalty to
the young nation (see section 2.2).
In comparison to national minorities, immigrant groups are composed of individuals that
have voluntarily decided to leave their country of origin and immigrate to another country
(Kymlicka 2002:352-355). According to the United States law of immigration, an immigrant
is an individual that is "lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States"
(usinfo.state.gov2002). Other terms used in the INS 7 reports when referring to immigrants
are: "aliens who are granted legal permanent residence; aliens admitted for legal permanent
residence; immigrants admitted; and admissions" ( 2002). Kymlicka divides
immigrant groups into two types: the immigrants that arrive legally under immigration policy
and have a right to citizenship after a short period subject to fulfilling certain conditions such
as learning the country's official language, its history and/or political institutions, which he
calls the 'immigrant group', and the 'metics', constituted largely by those that have entered the
country illegally (Kymlicka 2002:352-355).
"The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the U.S. Customs Service no longer exist. Their
functions and responsibilities were transferred to three agencies under the United States Department of
Homeland Security (DHS): Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement
(ICE), and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)." ( 2009)
Immigrants are expected, and have traditionally accepted, to integrate into the culture of
the target society, as well as learn the official language in order to acquire citizenship. Before
the 1960s, the 'Anglo-conformity' model in the US required assimilation as a guarantee of
loyalty and productivity in the society and public expressions of (non-Anglo) ethnicity were
considered unpatriotic (see section 3.5 for a discussion of expressions of loyalty). However,
most recently, immigrants have tried to renegotiate the terms of integration in favour of a
more tolerant approach that allows and supports the maintenance of some aspects of their
heritage (Kymlicka 2002:352-355). According to Kymlicka, in order to achieve fairer
integration, the state should recognise adaptation as a long-term process that crosses
generations and that special accommodation for immigrants, such as provision of services in
the immigrants' mother tongue are necessary for achieving integration. In addition, he
considers that it is also necessary that the identities and practices of immigrant groups are
given the same degree of respect as enjoyed by the majority group with regard to their cultural
identity. The second type of immigrant group, the metics, includes not only immigrants that
have illegally entered the country but also those considered to be temporary migrants such as
refugees or guest-workers. Metics usually put forward claims for permanent residency and
access to citizenship and often consider their target country as their home. In response to their
presence, western democracies are increasingly granting amnesty and citizenship (Kymlicka
Kymlicka also distinguishes African-Americans as a group due to their unique history of
segregation based on race and their uprooting from their cultures of origin, language and
separation from group and family members. Blacks cannot be considered as foreign citizens
even though they have not been allowed as full members in the American nation (Kymlicka
2002:360-361). The civil rights movement of the 60s was an attempt to change the social
boundaries placed on this group but today, they are still facing discrimination in many areas
of the American society. Kymlicka claims that African-Americans as a group can be seen as
denationalised since they do not belong to any other nation. This group is further divided in its
demands from the state. Whereas some focus on the systems for integration others prefer to
strengthen segregation in the form of nationalism in which black is redefined as a "nation"
(Kymlicka 2002:360-361). Related to the issue of demands on the state, Du Bois claims that
the blacks in the United States had what he called a 'double-consciousness' – a way of looking
at oneself through the outsiders gaze. The black individual is divided into two selves or
thoughts, i.e. that of a black individual and that of an American individual – a twoness that is
in constant struggle (Du Bois 2006).
The different claims for rights can be related to Smolicz's argument that ethnic groups
vary in the choice of the core values that distinguish them from other groups. Ethnic groups
that are language-centred place their distinct existence in relation to other groups on the
maintenance and development of their language. Under Smolicz's theory of core values these
groups position their identity on linguistic core values. Usage of the community's language by
an individual functions not only for communication purposes but also as an 'identity-marker',
i.e indicates belonging to that specific group. He further claims that learning a second or a
third language is a way of forming bonds between speakers of different languages without
depriving individuals of their linguistic heritage and is, therefore, a bridge that promotes
friendship and cooperation functioning also as a linguistic resource for cultural and economic
productivity at both the individual and societal levels (Smolicz 1995:236-237).
According to Fishman, the maintenance of culture in relation to ethnicity is much more
strongly linked than is ethnicity and language maintenance for immigrants in the United
States. Bilingualism among immigrants occurs long before the process of de-ethnisation or biculturalism takes place. Thus
ethnicity and culture maintenance appear to be much more stable phenomena than
language maintenance. On the one hand, most immigrants become bilingual (i.e., English
displaces the hitherto exclusive use of their mother tongue in certain kinds of interactions)
much before they embark on de-ethnization or seriously contemplate the possibility of biculturism. On the other hand, marginal but yet functional ethnicity lingers on (and is
transmitted via English) long after the ethnic mother tongue becomes substantially
dormant or is completely lost. Curiously enough, the lingering of marginal ethnicity
prompts and supports respect, interest, and nostalgia for the ethnic mother tongue, causing
language loyalists to entertain renewed hopes for revitalization even though displacement
is far advanced. Thus the very resultants of deep-reaching socio-cultural change carry with
them seeds of further change and of reversal (Fishman 1966:399).
Integration in the US has mainly focused on reducing inter-group conflict and improving
relations between different ethnic/racial groups. The civil rights and cultural movements
during the 1960s marked the change towards integration from an earlier monoculture and a
similar process has led to a dualist model of integration consisting of a private ethnoAmerican and a public American citizen. Thus, the public culture was characterised by an
American identity for social cohesion, which was defined monoculturally although with some
pluralist allowances (Goldberg 1994:6). Related to this is Ager's view of the projected image
of a country in the construction of identity (see section 4.2.3), which can function as a motive
for language policy (Ager 2001:74-75).
The American public demonstration of unity is reflected in Pavlenko and Blackledge's
claim that conflicts linked to ideologies of language and identity in meetings in multilingual
societies entail the negotiation of identities resulting in language choice and attitudes that are
related to factors of politics and power. Negotiation is a result of inequality and takes place
between individuals, majority and minority groups, as well as institutions – all differentiating
in power. Identity options available to individuals within the sociohistorical context are
subject to legitimisation and attribution of hierarchical value within a given contextual
ideology (Pavlenko and Blackledge 2003:2-3).
The struggle between language ideologies can be seen in relation to the construction of a
country's image based on multiculturalism or nationalism (Ager 2001; see section 4.2.3). For
Watson, an emphasis in the direction of one of the movements implies the reduction of
significance of the other. In the United States, ideas have oscillated between multiculturalism
and nationalism (Watson 2000: 18). Schildkraut's (2005:3) New Jersey interview-based study
shows how different ideas and images of the American national identity and people's views of
the role of the participating citizen in the polity, affect their opinions about language policies.
According to Perea, two motivations related to negative attitudes towards immigrants and
closing of borders are identified as constituting support for official-English measures, namely
the nation's or the family's economic security; and secondly racist/anti-immigrant attitudes
particularly towards Latinos and Asians (Perea as cited in Schildkraut 2005:3). A third likely
explanation is linked to the American way of life connected to notions of American ideals
and/or the American national identity (Schildkraut 2005:4-5). In the second half of the
twentieth century, reference to identity in the US began to indicate duality through the use of
'hyphenated identities', for instance Italian-American, Polish-American, and ChineseAmerican, etc. (Watson 2000:98) as a sign of movement towards multiculturalism. However,
Mauk and Oakland write that according to the US Census 2000 Supplemental Survey, more
individuals describe their ethnic ancestry as "US" or "American" rather than including a
hyphenated identity (Mauk and Oakland 2005:16).
Watson (2000:38-39) identifies questions related to multiculturalism and nationalism,
namely whether an American identity allows for multiculturalism, that is, with groups
competing for equality of treatment, or whether immigrants should be required to work
towards constructing a homogeneous entity through the commitment taken when acquiring
citizenship (Watson 2000:38-39). Whatever goals are selected, their attainment is complicated
by the fact that the construction of identity is complex and involves extra-linguistic factors.
According to Mauk and Oakland (2005:4, 8), there are three possibly conflicting major
cultures in the US – ethnic, political-legal, and the economic and consumer cultures, which
influence notions of what is regarded as 'Americanness' and national identity. The ethnic
culture reflects the
Native-American civilizations, European colonial settlement, African-American slavery
and immigration movements…The second is a political-legal culture based on
individualism, constitutionalism and respect for the law. It tries to unite the people under
ideal versions of 'Americanness', such as egalitarianism, morality and patriotism, which
should be reflected in political and legal institutions. The third is an economic and
consumer culture driven by corporate and individual competition which encourages profit
and consumption of goods and services (Mauk and Oakland 2005:4).
Grin studies the influences that linguistic and economic processes have on each other
(Grin 2003:1). His point of departure is identification of an economic problem, defined as a
situation when choices have to be made for the allocation of limited resources. The notion of
choice also assumes the rationality of actors' (individuals, firms and states) actions based on
the goal of maximisation of utility (well-being) for the individual and profits for firms. The
rationality hypothesis assumes that actors behave as if they have taken into account the costs
and benefits of a specific possible action and does not guarantee that they have actually
carried out an actual explicit calculus. Although, economics allows for altruistic action in the
objectives of individuals, most often the individual is regarded as being concerned with their
own well-being (Grin and Vaillancourt 1999:11).
Until the late 1980s, the focus had been mainly on language and ethnicity as possible
contributing explanations to determining economic variables such as income from labour.
However, recently there is interest in the way economic variables can affect linguistic ones
(Grin and Vaillancourt 1999:14; Grin 2006:80-81). Empirical studies in the United States
have shown in figures for 1990, that the labour income of Hispanic immigrants in areas with a
high proportion of Hispanic population such as Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico,
Texas, Florida and New York, was approximately 14 per cent less than the earnings of the
white population if they had knowledge of English but 24 per cent less if they did not speak
English. These differences were less in the rest of the country (Grin and Vaillancourt
1999:16). Thus the concentration of the group in a particular region was significant to their
Following these thoughts on language as an identity marker, with particular reference to
the American society, identification is seen here as resulting from a complex process in which
salience for what counts as significant for identity may shift, but is nevertheless present in the
creation of 'us' and 'them' relations. The next section takes a further look at identity and relates
it to issues of multiculturalism. In this respect, two aspects are worth mentioning. Firstly,
multiculturalism assumes the possibility of establishing boundaries of distinction between
cultures and as a result, an identification of 'us' and 'them'. The second aspect is a
consequence of the first based on the assumption that groups are discrete entities of culture,
namely that there may consequently be an over-simplification of group membership, similar
to that suggested by Fishman (1991:190-191) in which a heterogeneous group e.g. Spanish
speakers composed of Mexican-Americans (also referred to as Chicanos), Puerto Ricans (also
called Baicuas), Caribbeans including Cubans, and Central and South Americans are often
referred to as one collective under the label 'Hispanic'. According to Fishman, these different
groups have only recently realised and accepted the outsider's view of them as a unified ethnic
entity. Fishman (1991) further points out that in reality there are great differences between
and within these groups as regards urbanisation, wealth, racial belongings (white and nonwhite denominations), period of arrival, reasons for immigration to the US and legal status.
3.2 Multiculturalism
The growing presence of different groups and cultural diversity in societies has led to an
acknowledgement of the identity movement known as Multiculturalism. 'Politics of
difference', 'identity politics', and 'the politics of recognition' are some of the terms used as its
synonyms (Kymlicka 2002:327). The concept of 'multicultural' contains in its meaning
distinctiveness of cultures, a universal view of the importance of culture, and implies
recognition that all cultures are equal. A 'multicultural society' refers to several cultures
existing in the same society although modern anthropology considers that there is no clear
boundary between cultures (Watson 2000:1-2). It is also possible to some extent to link the
morphological structure of the word, namely multi+culture, to ideas of separately existing
cultures. Watson states that the definition of culture is problematic although it is generally
defined by difference in which group belonging is based on a shared language, history,
religious beliefs and moral values as well as geographical provenance (Watson 2000:1).
3.2.1 The debate on multiculturalism
Kymlicka suggests three stages for the debate concerning multiculturalism. In the first stage,
before 1989, multiculturalism was seen as leaning towards communitarianism, since cultural
community members were mobilised towards guaranteeing recognition and protection of the
community. Communitarians see multiculturalism as giving value to the community rather
than leaving the decision of maintenance of cultural practices to the choice of the 'autonomous
individual'. In this view, individual choices can destroy communities. Thus the aim is to
restrict choices that can have a negative impact on the community (Kymlicka 2002:336-337).
During this first stage, the communitarian conception of the individual as embedded in the
roles and relationships of a society, and therefore inheriting a way of life that defines what is
good, is dominant. Owing to this reasoning, individuals are products of social practices rather
than capable of independent choice. During this stage, the defence of multiculturalism
involved the critique of liberalism from a communitarian perspective, and minority rights
were seen as a defence of the communal from liberal individualism (Kymlicka 2002:337).
In the second stage, the focus of the debate shifts from a communitarian view on
minorities to the possibility of including multiculturalism within the liberal theory. This is
partly a consequence of the claim that public recognition of minority rights and support for
minority languages and practices fall within liberal democratic values. Kymlicka belongs to
the strand of liberal culturalists that endorse the view that issues of minority culture and
identity that do not clash with liberal values of freedom and equality allow for a groupdifferentiated rights approach (Kymlicka 2002:338-339). Critique of this perspective lies in
the difficulty of defining the boundaries of distinct cultures and that the freedom and wellbeing of the individual is by default linked to the growth of their own culture. In this view, the
formation of a bond to a given culture or a given language is a choice taken by the individual,
and therefore group related rights do not need to be considered as a necessity. Accordingly,
the critics see the costs of these choices as part of the responsibility of individuals and
therefore not to be subsidised by the state (Kymlicka 2002:339).
Kymlicka argues against this particular liberal view since the language and culture of the
individual are not choices made voluntarily but instead are consequences of birth. Also, an
individual's access to their own minority language and culture may affect their ability to make
meaningful choices. It is therefore unreasonable to require minorities to carry costs of e.g.
language shift since members of the majority do not have equivalent expenses (Kymlicka
Kymlicka distinguishes two kinds of "collective rights" or "group rights" that fall within
the liberal school of thought. One type, to which Kymlicka recommends an attitude of
scepticism, are those based on intra-group relations, namely 'internal restrictions' that the
group applies on its members to protect itself from internal differences of opinion including
cases where the individual chooses not to abide by traditions. In this case, group solidarity is
placed as primordial. The second type is based on inter-group relations and are 'external
protections' that protect the group from effects of decisions taken in the larger society that
may impact on the group's existence and identity. The rights that fall within this category are
language rights, land rights and representation rights. However, caution must be taken in
considering that granting external protection rights to a particular minority group may lead to
the marginalisation of another group – a situation that would be inconsistent with liberal
principles. A reference is often made in this respect to the use of protection arguments in
order to validate the system of apartheid in South Africa. In sum, the debate of
multiculturalism during the second stage has mainly focused on the circumstances in which
deviation from the liberal normative approach of benign neglect would be acceptable
(Kymlicka 2002:340-341, 345) by some theorists.
The third stage in the conceptualisation of the debate on multiculturalism is the question of
whether the processes for nation-building by the majority in liberal democracies such as
promotion of a common language, perception of common membership and equal accessibility
to social institutions through a common language, affect minorities in a negative way. Also, if
injustices result then the question lies in whether minority rights can provide protection to
those affected unjustly. Kymlicka further cites Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, and Spain as
examples where government measures encourage the existence and sustainment of at least
two societal cultures within the state. Kymlicka's presentation of the third stage is a departure
from the debate on justification of benign neglect (Kymlicka 2002:344-347) and rather
focusing on the idea that "we can only understand the politics of multiculturalism by seeing it
in relation to the politics of nation-building" (Kymlicka 2002:370).
Kymlicka uses the term 'societal culture', as a culture that is concentrated in a geographical
space and is based on a shared language that is used in private and public societal institutions.
The use of the term 'societal' is to emphasise the fact that the focus is on shared language and
social institutions instead of shared religious beliefs, family traditions and personal lifestyles
(Kymlicka 2002:344-347). In the US, most Americans take part in a societal culture with
English as the shared language (Kymlicka 1995:76-77) although the debate regarding Official
English indicates that the current idea of societal culture is challenged especially by the
language maintenance patterns of Hispanics. According to Kymlicka, the spread of
Anglophones across the territory of the US in the past, the deliberate timing of individual state
inclusion in the federation, and the establishment of state boundaries were influenced by the
number of Anglophones in the different regions. The dominant role of English in the country
has its origins in these procedures. Today, English is reinforced by laws requiring children to
learn it in schools. Also knowledge of English is a condition to qualify for government
employment, entrance into the country for immigrants under 50 years of age, and a necessity
for obtainment of citizenship. Given these conditions, in the third stage, minorities are left
with four choices: to emigrate, to integrate and negotiate terms of integration, to seek selfgovernment, or to accept marginalisation (Kymlicka 2002:344-348).
3.2.2. Renewed views on citizenship
In the past, there has been an assumption that non-white groups that were allowed to enter
Western democracies would assimilate. However, today these immigrant groups, along with
other marginalised groups, are demanding a renewed concept of 'citizenship' that is based on
inclusion and accommodation rather than stigmatisation and exclusion of identities and
differences (Kymlicka 2002:327). The traditional notion of a consequential relationship
between citizenship rights and national integration is questioned since groups that have
acquired the rights of citizenship still experience marginalisation and stigmatisation due to
their socio-economic status and socio-cultural identity. This has led to a demand for a
'differentiated citizenship' (term used by Iris Marion Young as cited in Kymlicka 2002) in
which "members of certain groups would be incorporated into the political community, not
only as individuals, but also through the group, and their rights would depend, in part, on their
group membership" (Kymlicka 2002:329). However, since these groups are heterogeneous,
and composed of individuals with differing opinions, the claims and subsequent support given
to each group may vary (Kymlicka 2002:329), which may, in turn, lead to conflict based on a
perception of marginalisation by those groups not included in measures granting more rights.
There are two politics against inequalities in western democracies, the 'politics of
redistribution' focusing on socio-economic injustices based on an economic hierarchy; and the
'politics of recognition' focusing on cultural injustices which are based on status hierarchy
between groups. Since members of groups that have achieved economic equality have not
experienced the removal of status inequality, the idea of attributing differentiated citizenship
is very much debated (Kymlicka 2002:332-334).
The demands of ethnocultural groups – immigrants, national minorities and religious
groups – for recognition and accommodation of particular distinctive identities and needs are
a result of the struggle against the status hierarchy in western democracies positioning the
Christian, heterosexual, white man at the top (Kymlicka 2002:334-335). It must however be
added that power relations and subsequent hierarchies of status are present in most relations
of social interactions and thus constitute the way western, as well as non-western states are
built up.
In relation to this, Taylor (1994a:25, 40-41) states that the recognition or misrecognition
by others affects the construction of identity. Taylor endorses a communitarian view that
although similar to the view of multiculturalism proposed by liberals such as Kymlicka, the
starting point for the construction of identity lies at the collective level and the possibility of
distinguishing distinct cultural groups. According to him, Kymlicka's view only focuses on
the survival of existing cultures rather than the maintenance of the culture for future
generations. Taylor's approach to multiculturalism and identity within the concept of the
'politics of recognition' is an idea that individuals recognise the importance of culture in the
lives of others by relating to the significance it has in their own sense of having a distinct
identity and belonging. Thus, from this viewpoint, the recognition of culture is an important
factor in identity construction (Taylor 1994a). For him, recognition is related to the view of
the definition of the self as a dialogical process created through interaction with 'significant
others' (a term introduced by George Mead as cited in Taylor 1994b). Thus the actions of
individuals gain meaning in relation to the 'significant others'. Accordingly, the individual
negotiates their identity and meaning in dialogue with others through a common language,
used in its wider sense to not only include words but also the languages of art, gesture, etc
(Taylor 1994b:79).
Nevertheless for Taylor, it is also important not to assume that different cultural forms are
equal or have equal value since different cultures have different understandings of worth
(Taylor 1994a:64). Taylor (1994b:98) claims that for a member of one culture to understand
another culture's worth it is necessary to include Gadamer's notion of a 'fusion of horizons' in
which the dialogue between people with different backgrounds serves to broaden their
understanding and horizon. In this way a judgement of worth of another culture's worth would
be reached by the individual transforming partially their own standards (Taylor 1994b:98). A
similar idea can be said to be associated with the idea of the melting pot in the US, which
however is now seen as not having been entirely successful (see section 3.1.1).
3.2.3 Ideologies of multiculturalism in the US
The notion of worth is also related to how meetings of cultures are recognised in political
ideologies. McLaren (1994:47-55) distinguishes three types of multiculturalism in the context
of the United States, namely conservative or corporate multiculturalism, liberal
multiculturalism and left-liberal multiculturalism. Conservative multiculturalists aim towards
the construction of the common culture by eliminating foreign languages as well as regional
and ethnic dialects. They direct criticism towards the use of non-standard English and
provision of bilingual education. In this strand, ethnic groups must accept the euro-American
norms of the majority in the United States before being added to the dominant culture. Also,
English is viewed by its adherents as the only possible official language of the United States.
Therefore although the term diversity is used, the underlying ideology is of assimilation
(McLaren 1994:49). In relation to this view, it is possible to refer to the English-only and
English First proponents who consider language as an assimilative tool. The requirement for
citizenship related to the knowledge of English can also be linked to this view. The idea of an
official language for assimilative purposes carries with it the problems related to hierarchies
and acceptance of non-standard varieties. It seems to the present author that discussions of
official language often take for granted a non-existence of status related issues of same
language varieties – implying a hegemonic understanding of the norms to be attained,
especially in the above description of conservative multiculturalism.
Liberal multiculturalism forwards the view that there is a natural equality between races –
whites, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, etc. Supporters of this position believe that
individuals can compete equally in a capitalist society – leading to a position of 'benign
neglect'. However, since this is not the case in the US due to the absence of social and
educational opportunities that allow equal competition in the marketplace, some liberal
multiculturalists believe that constraints in the cultural, social and economic areas can be
changed in order to provide more equality between groups. Interestingly, liberal
multiculturalism bases its ideas and norms of citizenship on Anglo-American culturalpolitical communities which also entails a biased starting point as regards whose values are
taken as the norms and applicable to other cultural groups (McLaren 1994:51).
Left-liberal multiculturalism elevates cultural differences rather than focusing on equality
of races since these, according to this point of view, suppress cultural differences of
behaviour, values and social practices, among others. In this perspective, 'otherness' is
exoticised and difference is placed in an authenticity related to the past. Thus there is an
assumption that there is an authentic "African-American" or a "Latino" experience. Its focus
on essentialism excludes the situated effects of history, culture and power. The occurrence of
difference is separated from historical and social happenings. This view further ignores the
role of power in the situated representations of meaning and locates/attributes authority or
political correctness in advance to voices of those that have physical closeness to an
oppressed individual or are themselves an oppressed individual (McLaren 1994:51-52).
McLaren argues against this by stating that "one must be willing to examine personal
experience and one's speaking voice in terms of the ideological and discursive complexity of
its formation" (McLaren 1994:52).
McLaren puts forward a critical and resistance multiculturalism focusing on the
construction of identity and social meaning through language use and forms of representation.
In line with the poststructuralist view, signs and significations are seen as constantly shifting
and therefore their fixedness is only temporary and representations are consequences of social
struggles over the meaning of signs (McLaren 1994:53). If one sees multiculturalism as the
existence of different cultures within a state, critical multiculturalism allows for flexible group
boundaries and cultural change due to individuals changing group affiliations.
Within critical and resistance multiculturalism, culture is conflictual wherein the idea of
difference is central. Furthermore, differences are constituted by asymmetrical relations of
power (McLaren 1994:53-54). Also, according to McLaren, the liberal and conservative
approaches to multiculturalism ignore – and cannot deal with hegemonic domination and
affirmation of differences at the same time. McLaren criticises the liberal view of the
American society as based on a consensus in which minority aspects are not integrated but
added onto the dominant structures ignoring the aspects of power and privilege that are in
play. Furthermore, the liberal and conservative positions are criticised since they assume an
already existing justice which only requires distribution. For, McLaren justice is constantly
created and is also the locus of struggle (McLaren 1994:54-55).
Within critical multiculturalism, language has an important role in the production of
experience since all experience is mediated through words. McLaren states that the
relationship in the western world between language and thought is built on a system of
differences based on binary opposition in which the primary term defines the norm on which
cultural meaning is based. The secondary term exists in a hierarchy of dependence and in a
dichotomising position. However, change is possible since for the multicultural critique, "the
relationship between signifier and signified is insecure and unstable" (cf. Saussure's view of
language in section 3.1.1). There is an ideological struggle between signs for the domination
of a particular system of representation that legitimates a certain view on reality. Difference is
then consequently viewed from within a system of relations founded on domination (McLaren
1994:55-58). Ebert exemplifies this by the use of the terms 'negro' and 'black' in the politics of
race in the US. In the same way that 'negro' indicated a fixed racial difference in the 1960s,
the term 'black' is used more recently by the white population to refer to the black subject with
significations of criminality and violence as well as social degeneration (as cited in McLaren
Signifying practices are also revealed in the study by Muñoz Jr (1989:10) who claims that
the term 'Hispanic', implies a lack of recognition of the multicultural and multiracial origins of
the people of Latin America residing in the United States and their different realities and
experiences – a view that can be related to Fishman's (1991:190-191) statement that the term
'Hispanic' is in fact a very wide term for a heterogeneous group (see section 3.1).
Etymologically the term is originated from "Hispania" referring to the area of the Iberian
Peninsula which today is mainly Spain. The use of this term then ignores the complex racial
and cultural ancestry of today's Latin Americans (McLaren 1994:57). Finally, within the
context of a state, multiculturalism constituted by meetings between perceived ethnically
differentiated groups also carries the possibilities of meetings between different language
speakers. The identification of groups on the basis of language implies the assumption of a
clear definition of boundaries between linguistic groups entailing a sense of fixedness and
stability of difference. The next section looks at factors related to multilingualism.
3.3 Multilingualism
Linguistics has generally changed from its single view of the homogeneous community of
formalist and descriptive Chomskyan linguistics to a multidimensional linguistics that takes
account of extra-linguistic as well as linguistic factors (Nelde 1997:285). Due to its usage in
social arenas, the study of multilingualism involves taking into consideration factors from
different disciplinary perspectives (Clyne 1997:302) thus aiming to relate extra-linguistic and
linguistic factors.
The term 'multilingualism' can be used in two ways. On the one hand, it can refer to an
individual's knowledge of languages – also referred to as 'bilingualism'. On the other hand, it
can be used to make reference to the sociolinguistic repertoire of a society – also referred to as
'societal multilingualism' (Clyne 1997:301). Spolsky offers another, although similar, division
in which 'multilingualism' characterises any given society that has more than one language,
and 'plurilingualism' refers to the languages a member of a multilingual community has
acquired (Spolsky 2004:4). For Kaplan and Baldauf, 'bilingualism' is the knowledge of more
than two languages at the individual level – often implying that there is a dominating or "first"
language for the individual. Also, if a common language exists between the individuals in a
society it is likely that it has "some sort of 'official' status" (Kaplan and Baldauf 1997:216217) although this does not imply a consensus or lack of resistance among all groups to the
selected common language.
Multilingualism in a society or nation is characterised either as 'de facto' or as 'official'.
The former may exist in a nation that is territorially divided into different languages but in
which most of the inhabitants grow up as monolinguals as is the case of Switzerland. The
latter involves public documentation and government declaration of a language as official as
is the case in Canada (Clyne 1997:301-302). Linguistically diverse societies can have two
types of multilingualism – symmetrical and asymmetrical multilingualism. In the former,
languages share the same status, whereas in the latter there is a hierarchy between the
languages (Clyne 1997:306). Societal multilingualism leads to different languages having
different functions in different domains (Fasold 1984:8). The positions of the languages in a
society carry implications for its speakers, that is, the more domains a language functions in a
given society, the more advantages its speakers have as members of that society. These
advantages are wide, ranging from aspects of education and work, to factors related to status
and power.
3.3.1 Fragmentation or unification?
In spite of the view by some that multilingualism gives insight into other cultures and
"cosmologies" (Phillipson 2003:3), the story of the construction of the Tower of Babel by
monolinguals and the resulting multilingualism has led to fear of its potential for creating
division and is often seen as undesirable (Romaine 1995:321-322). Therefore, minorities often
face linguistic and cultural assimilation, since most dominant linguistic groups are not
favourable to granting minority rights. Moreover, two myths are pointed out as contributing to
the negative attitudes towards granting minority language rights. On the one hand, the myth
argues that monolingualism is important for economic growth. On the other hand, according
to the second myth, granting minority linguistic and cultural rights threatens the survival of
the nation state (Skutnabb-Kangas, Phillipson and Rannut 1995:3, 5-6). The same concerns
regarding insecurity may exist in state nations. With regard to this, the present study looks at
the perceptions of insecurity in the US.
Crawford suggests that three possible types of responses are distinguishable in relation to
language diversity. The first response regards language diversity as something minor but
which should be changed. The second response places multilingualism as a threat to harmony
and wealth, and therefore needs to be eliminated. Thirdly, language diversity can be viewed as
a cultural asset and a human rights issue. Crawford further adds that the choice between these
alternatives is a personal value judgment (Crawford 2000:2). The truth value of the claim in
the second response can be investigated by looking at real situation examples. Crawford also
states that there is a need for a policy regarding bilingualism in the US (Crawford 2000:2).
Linguistic minority groups as well as others, such as bilingual teachers and civil libertarians,
view policies restricting languages as a threat and also perceive English-only proponents as
members of far right politics (Crawford 2000:4).
The idea that national unity can only be achieved by having one language can be traced to
the nineteenth century philosophers Herder and Humboldt. For them, nation and culture are
founded on language. With regard to this, two different notions for the monolingual nationstate in Europe can be distinguished – the national romantic vision and the republican
ideology. The former views a shared language and culture as a uniting factor for the nation as
a collective identity. This vision often involves the oppression of minority languages. The
latter, the republican ideology emphasises freedom, equality and fraternity for all within the
nation regardless of the language used privately. Still, the republican vision also considers a
shared language as important. Additionally, in both visions, higher status is given to the
language used by the dominant group and includes a disregard for the actual sociolinguistic
variation within its borders (Phillipson 2003:3, 41-42).
The formation of nations in the nineteenth century was an example of aggregating
different communities under one label, which is one of the processes by which societal
multilingualism develops. Linguistic diversity can also arise as a consequence of migratory
movements. The phenomenon of migration can be related to Tönnies' (1887/2001; 1887/1963
as cited in Guibernau and Rex 1997:2, 7; Jenkins 2008:132) terms of 'Gemeinschaft' and
'Gesellschaft', in which the former refers to a primary type of community in which bonds are
created through kinship, shared customs, beliefs, and language as well as the same locality or
neighbourhood. This primary community also has a myth about its origin and has a strong
sense of bonding and belonging. Whereas Gemeinschaft is considered to characterise a
traditional society, Gesellschaft is the link created by individuals in the modern society when
they meet for a purpose. Thus there is an aspect of interest or exchange in the relationship (see
also Durkheim's 1933 terms of 'mechanic solidarity' for similarity as a bond and 'organic
solidarity' or interdependent complementarity of function as a bond for related ideas of
community to Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft respectively). According to the present author,
it is possible to argue that the concept of 'Gemeinschaft' can be related to the goals of
assimilation in the sense that there is a core identity that exists in which language has a role
linked to Tönnies description that "[T]he general use of a shared language, with its real
possibility of understanding what another person is saying, brings human hearts together"
(Tönnies 1887/2001:35). To some extent, the idea of integration relates to Gesellschaft
through participation of individuals in public space and semi-public space, as well as in the
public sphere.
For Fasold, linguistic contact can occur due to migration (for reasons of control of territory
and of smaller sociocultural groups, or through immigration); 'imperialism' (due to
colonisation, annexation and 'economic imperialism'); federation (in which one state has
political rule over various ethnic groups or nationalities); and border area multilingualism (in
which borders and sociocultural group belonging do not coincide). These processes are not
mutually exclusive and can be simultaneous. All four processes are visible in the history of
the US, i.e. the acquisition of Mexico in 1848 is an annexation-type imperialism, as well as a
movement of ethnic borders (Fasold 1984:9-12) for instance in the case of migration of
Anglophone speakers into the annexed areas; or as in the case of migration of large groups of
Americans taking up residence in the area. Fasold further indicates that a case of forced
federation may be taken from the perspective of the Native Americans in the southwest part of
the country (Fasold 1984:9-12). Multilingualism exists in all regions where state/country
languages meet geographically. In the case of the US-Mexican border, multilingualism is a
product of the movement of people and daily contact between individuals and authorities from
both countries
Presently, although immigrant languages go through the process of bilingualism and
language shift, a constant flow of immigrants maintains multilingualism in the US (Spolsky
2004:110) aided for instance by possibilities provided by the Internet and lower travel costs.
The term 'commuter nation', which was first applied to the travel patterns of Puerto Ricans, is
used to describe the behaviour of other groups (Ager 2001:113). Commuters and migrants
creating the 'commuting nation' often create circumstances for the appearance of bilingualism
in both the target and native countries. This contrasts with past immigrant patterns whereby
the immigrant lost touch with their home country (Ager 2001:115). According to Gonzalez
and Melis (2001:47), the Spanish language is seen as a threat in the United States. The
Americanisation movement sees the "new" immigrants (mainly Latino and Asian) as less
capable and less positive to learning English therefore posing a threat to the position of
English and to the process of Americanisation. Valdes (as cited in Gonzalez and Melis
2001:9) claims that not only are the growing numbers of immigrants in the US seen as a
threat, multilingualism is connected to un-American. In his study of the debate in the US
regarding English as an official language, Crystal (1997) compiles the pro-Official English
arguments from different studies, namely that English is a bond for political unity;
multilingual policies are expensive and take away the incentive to learn English and reduces
immigrants chances to better paid jobs; bilingual education programmes are taught by
teachers with inadequate proficiency in English creating socially inferior varieties, i.e. "ghetto
dialect"; English-immersion programmes facilitate transition into mainstream classes;
Bilingual programmes are used to maintain cultural identity and to reduce integration; Nonimmigrants are sometimes forced into bilingualism in school environments or to be eligible
for a professional position, since monolingualism in English is insufficient; and finally since
there is difficulty in deciding when official status should be given on the basis of the number
of speakers of a particular language, official recognition should only be given to English to
avoid the risk of conflict (Crystal 1997:122-130). On the other hand, the anti-official position
holds that the majority of immigrants are assimilating well especially second generation thus
there is no risk for political fragmentation; There is motivation to learn English as it facilitates
success; Limits on cultural pluralism restricting and controlling self-expression of minorities
will result if a bill on Official English is introduced; Monolingualism is not a guarantee for
social harmony since religion, politics may cause conflict; Boundaries between public and
private discourse and the definition of 'official' with regard to language is difficult to
establish. To this effect, freedom of expression is put at risk since the public domain would
dominate over, and affect, the private domain; Removal of resources combined with an
emphasis on English will damage language stability; and finally foreign language knowledge
would benefit international business and political diplomacy (Crystal 1997:117-128).
Multilingualism is a part of everyday life for the majority of people and institutions in the
world (Phillipson 2003:3) but there exists an expressed homogeneity of the state which is
mostly based on cultural or linguistic aspects (Phillipson 2003:58). This attitude is also
reflected in the study of language. Although only 30 per cent of the population in the world is
monolingual, linguistic models have always taken monolingualism as the norm (Oksaar
According to Clyne (1997:304) enforcement, support, acceptance, tolerance, or rejection
of multilingualism or special language status are often visible in language policies and/or are
expressed in community attitudes. In a similar vein, Appiah claims that since most modern
states are multilingual, management of language is complex and that both the role of language
as a marker of identity and as an instrument of citizenship should be taken into account in
policy making procedures (Appiah 2005:104-105). In addition, Oksaar (1996:8) claims that
language policies drawn for facilitating linguistic integration of minorities sometimes ignore
the fact that cultural values, such as an individual's minority language may have emotional
value. This oversight may affect group relations. Oksaar further claims that such abstract
factors are sometimes lost to policy makers since they are difficult to account for in statistical
information. Freindreis and Tatalovich's (1997) investigation based on the 1992 American
National Elections Study (NES) looks at the extent of mass support for official-English
legislation. Using five hypothesis from previous studies regarding the cause and nature of the
English-only discussion, i.e. racism, ethnic rivalry, class politics, as well as political and
cultural issues, they conclude that support for official-English is wide; insufficient evidence is
obtained to state that support is due to partisanship based on social-class or racial/ethnic
antagonism; and attitudes to official-English are related to symbolic views of national identity
and cultural diversity. They further claim that the significance of core values and conflict of
values will increase in importance in the public and scholarly discourse, and in political
The next section will deal with how a group can be defined as a community from a
language perspective since definitions of group boundaries influence which individuals are
affected by language policy measures as these are often group-directed.
3.4 Speech community
The discussion of multilingualism implies an existence of a distinct monolingual group which
is affected by the appearance of other distinct language groups. Bearing this in mind, it
becomes necessary to look at the different definitions of a community identified by language,
namely the speech community – also referred synonymously to as a 'linguistic community' 8
(Hudson 1998:24) and its implications for understanding the language situation in the US.
This is in line with the linguistic anthropological view mentioned by Duranti which assumes
that the existence of a language variety entails a community of speakers and that the
community serves as a referential point for both the individuals using the variety and the
researcher studying language use in the community (Duranti 1997:72).
The sociological use of 'community' refers to a group of individuals that share knowledge
as well as possessions or behaviours. Linguists use this term in the combination 'speech
community' to identify another type of social organisation. The concept of 'speech
community' emphasises language practices and unity, and is viewed as a more natural way of
distinguishing groups for sociolinguistic enquiry than depending on geographical criteria
alone (Mesthrie 2000:37) as political boundaries often cut across speech communities existing
in geographical language variety continuums. This view, i.e. that perceptions of common
language practices sometimes do not equate to formally established geographical boundaries
is in line with Moerman's (1965) emic emphasis on categories in which identification departs
'Linguistic community' is not to be confused with 'language community' which is "sometimes used to discuss
the superset of speakers of the same language in different parts of the world" (Mesthrie 2000: 37).
from culture and depends on the beliefs of the individual. The problem with these
perspectives is their reliance on relative views which may affect the establishment of
categories or common language practices based on who the researcher asks. This would mean
that the same study may give different results if the categories by which the study is initiated
3.4.1 Constructions of speech communities
For a multilingual community to be considered a speech community it is necessary that it
has shared rules of speaking and interpreting language usage (Mesthrie 2000:37). Mesthrie
combines existing definitions of speech community and states that its core meaning is of a
group of people that have frequent contact with each other through a shared language or have
common ways of interpreting language usage (Mesthrie 2000:38). The phenomenon of
geographical language continuum brings difficulties to the issue described as "common" and
"shared" since, as mentioned above, the question then arises as to who defines the shared
According to Bloomfield, a group of individuals that interact through speech, i.e. that
share a system composed of speech-signals, form a speech community (Bloomfield 1933:29,
42), which according to him is also the "most important kind of social group" (Bloomfield
1933:42). However he also points out that the boundaries of language are not coterminous
with economic, political or cultural grouping since cultural phenomena such as religion can
sometimes unite groups that otherwise form distinct speech communities. The political unit of
the United States includes groups that do not speak the English language such as American
Indians, Spanish speakers and immigrants that have not undergone assimilation through
language acquisition (Bloomfield 1933:42) and shift. Speech communities are also of
different sizes, and members' proficiency in the different varieties that exist within the
community can vary (Bloomfield 1933:43, 45).
Hymes (1974:47) challenges Bloomfield's definition of speech community, by claiming
that sharing the same linguistic knowledge does not automatically entail that members of a
community have a sentiment of belonging and unity. For Hymes, there is a difference
between being a participant in a speech community and acquiring membership in a
community. He clarifies that it is not enough to have knowledge of the "patterns of speaking
as well as of grammar" or a definition based on interaction since criteria for membership in a
community may vary between different groups (Hymes 1974:50-51). According to Hymes the
speech community has its point of departure in the social, thus a social group needs to be
identified (Hymes 1974:47). This is in line with the reversal of Bucholz's image of the speech
community as "a language-based unit of social analysis" by Patrick (2001:577) to suggest the
view of the speech community as a "socially-based unit of linguistic analysis". The argument
for viewing speech communities as social constructs is exemplified by Salzman in the
difference attached to Indian English and American English in which speakers may not be
seen as belonging to the same speech community since the varieties and the rules for speaking
are different enough to distinguish the two groups although both varieties have a common
base (Salzmann 1993:194).
Hymes writes that it is necessary for linguistics to relate language use to the meanings that
usage carries in the social thus "the starting point of description is not a sentence or text, but a
speech event; not a language, but a repertoire of ways of speaking; not a speech community
defined in equivalence to a language, but a speech community defined through the
concurrence of rules of grammar and rules of use" (Hymes 1974:120).
Hudson (1998:29-30) states that the identification of an objective speech community used
in sociolinguistic analysis does not exist and is instead dependent on subjective notions of
community identification. Thus, claims regarding social types e.g. 'Londoner' or 'American',
are subjective and do not validate the arrangement of the sociolinguistic reality in objective
terms of speech communities (Hudson 1998). This approach is linked to Le Page and
Tabouret-Keller's (1985) view of the individual as using language as a means to identify with
the group/groups they choose. This can further be linked to Corder's view of a speech
community as "made up of people who regard themselves as speaking the same language; it
need have no other defining attributes. In other words, a speech community is defined by its
speakers' beliefs rather than objectively by its language" (Corder 1973:53; cf. Moerman in
section 3.1). This definition may be seen as allowing variation in the proficiency of the
speakers and self-identification, and can be indirectly related to Bolinger's account for human
group forming and the existence of an infinite number of speech communities. According to
Bolinger, individuals are motivated by many factors to form communities; among them is
security, self-identification, and religion (Bolinger 1975:333). This claim can also mean that a
person's identification to a specific community can vary depending on the circumstances.
From Morgan's perspective, the discussions on speech communities are based on two
different views of how language and discourse are defined. On the one hand, there is an
"objective" linguistic analysis that does not take into account social beliefs, attitudes, and
political aspects, among others, and which often reflects the view of the dominant culture, e.g.
in the choice of a national language or a prestige dialect. On the other hand, there is a view of
speech communities which includes representation through language and discourse, and
contributes to the maintenance, enforcement and reproduction of cultural hegemony.
Representation through language forms the framework whereby the individual can
meaningfully take part in a society (Morgan 2006:3-4).
According to Morgan, the 'speech community' (with boundaries varying from the level of
nation-state to chat rooms) concept involves the view of the social construction of language
is recognizable by the circulation of discourse and repetition of activity and beliefs and
values about these topics, which are constantly discussed, evaluated, corroborated,
mediated, and reconstituted by its members. One's awareness of the issues is determined
by whether and to what degree speech communities are in crisis. For some, awareness is
ingrained in the cultural fabric and thus represents unmarked usage that encompasses the
community's historicity, politics, ideology, representation, and so on. Though these values
are agreed upon, that does not necessarily mean that there is complete consensus about the
implementation of these principles. Rather, what is at stake is knowledge of the symbolic,
market, and exchange value of varieties and styles within and across speech communities
(Morgan 2006:5).
From the point of view of language contact in the context of the United States, Morgan's
statement of varieties and styles can include languages in a multilingual society and the
domains in which they appear.
Duranti (1997:76-78) claims that alternative norms mark resistance to decisions on official
language and are significant strategies in the construction of parallel social and ethnic
identities e.g. maintaining a variety as the unique symbol of ethnic identity or as attributing
prestige to it due to its link to economically strong groups.
Duranti proposes "a speech community to be the product of the communicative activities
engaged in by a given group of people" (Duranti 1997:82). This definition allows for the view
of a speech community as a non-static entity dependent on human communicative activities
originating in the social rather than an already constituted object of inquiry. Furthermore, this
definition can be related to Salzman's view that social activities may overlap thus leading to
an overlapping of speech communities, and therefore, allowing for vertical membership from
the local, national, regional, and global or horizontal inclusion by the interaction of social
groups. In this way, individuals can belong to several speech communities and can adjust their
speech towards a specific community (Salzmann 1993:194). The implication for multilingual
societies is that group boundaries are constantly being recreated, or what might be termed 'refixed', at an informal level even though there are available labels attached to "established"
groups (cf. Appiah 2005 in section 3.1.2).
3.5 Loyalty and trust
Connor (2007) puts forward loyalty as an emotion that is present in different layers of social
interaction – the family, communal and national levels – and is manifested in action referred
to as acts of patriotism, such as waving a national flag. Feelings of loyalty may lead to
collective action related to issues of identity. According to Connor (2007:77), "the loyalties a
nation's citizens express are critical in understanding the identity of the country and its
people". Loyalty is further defined as a reciprocal emotion between the individual and the
collective in which for instance national loyalty gives an identity and belonging to the actor,
which is itself reinforced and reproduced as a concept by the behaviour and actions of the
individuals of the nation. Also, national loyalty is upheld by a combination of common
language, geography, history, traditions, among others. Social institutions – in which the
government is central due to its control of society through legislation, education and military
– have an active role in building loyalty towards the state.
Connor's (2007) view of loyalty is of a constructed concept that is used to include or
exclude actors by creating an emotional attachment to a group and a sense of belonging
among its members. The emotion of loyalty does not exist without the presence of the Other
and the existence of the Other is often accompanied by conflict and exclusion. It is in these
circumstances of difference that a separate identity is defined.
Within the context of the nation, Wolff (1968:60-65) distinguishes two types of loyalty as
obligation or commitment, namely contractual loyalty (similar to civic nationalism in Connor
2007) which is realised through promises of commitment; and natural loyalty (similar to
ethnic nationalism in Connor 2007), which only includes those who are born in the country in
question. Since it is assumed that one is naturally loyal to the country in which one is born,
ethnic nationalisms assume loyalty by right of birth. In contrast, contractual loyalty is
regarded as a weaker form of loyalty, which must be proven (Wolff 1968; Connor 2007). For
Connor (2007:81), if an actor is to be included based on citizenship loyalty, he/she needs to
possess the specific cultural capital such as race, colour, ethnicity and religion or else take the
position of the Other. In the relationship between a state and an individual, this would entail
being characterised by labels such as 'foreigner'. Acquisition of the language of the host
country is often linked to issues surrounding the integration of immigrants and therefore can
be seen as a concrete example of expected expression of contractual loyalty. For example in
Schmid's (2001) study of the US, the events towards the end of the nineteenth century are
seen as linking the English language to loyalty and the idea of an American national identity.
Language loyalty is defined as the conscious maintenance of an individual's mother tongue
in language contact situations with different ethnic communities, and attempts at language
maintenance by a minority group are regarded as manifestations of ethnic loyalty. The term
'language loyalty' is therefore connected to language maintenance (Niculescu 1996:715-16)
which can only be defined as such if circumstances suggest preference for language shift
(Coulmas 2005:158). From the perspective of minorities, resistance to language shift may be
influenced by factors such as a common collective memory, whether true or false, or a
perception of an ethnic identity (Niculescu 1996:715). Also relevant, is Edwards' (1985:49)
statement that language and the fate of its users are connected so that if a language dies or
declines it is because the situation in which the speakers of that language find themselves has
also changed. Furthermore, and in relation to language contact, Swann claims that codeswitching may be perceived as an action of demonstrating loyalty to the mother tongue since
it is a way of accessing different social identities by reference to language (Swann 2000:171).
The maintenance of a language – or language loyalty as defined by Niculescu – allows for
the possibility that there is a link between the social and ethnic identity of a community and
the language that it speaks (Niculescu 1996:719). In this respect, Nelde (1997:288) cautions
that interpretation of statistics in census and public opinion surveys often cannot account for
the role that language loyalty and prestige play in the identity of an individual.
Individuals and groups cannot be isolated entities and are in fact in constant interaction.
Even if language groups were to use a common language, and by implication demonstrate
loyalty outwardly through language, it can be assumed that proficiency levels are important to
avoid misunderstandings that may lead to negative attitudes between groups. Gumperz states
that initial situational difficulties in mutual understandings in inter-ethnic contact and
individuals that have different backgrounds may, in the long-term, become value-loaded. As a
result, misunderstandings may serve to increase the gap of difference due to conflict of goals
and values, which are then subsequently linked symbolically to identity through recurrence.
Different language use, based on the choices of words, phrases or tones can affect trust
between participants in an interaction (Gumperz 1982:3, 8). According to Seligman, trust is
necessary for a society to function. The problem of trust has become important in the modern
social and political orders because of the fragmentation of identities that have followed
modernity in the western world (Seligman 1997:6, 16).
For Seligman, trust is a modern phenomenon (Seligman 1997:6) in the sense that modern
societies exist on an ideology of trust based on inter-related networks of trust. In human
interactions the problem of risk is dealt with by referring to trust (Seligman 1997:8-9).
Seligman argues that a form of trust between individuals in a given society is necessary for
the maintenance of social order (Seligman 1997:7). If familiarity no longer forms the basis for
solidarity then the preconditions of trust also diminish (Seligman 1997:172). Thus, language
can be seen as a tool that has a significant role in constructing familiarity. If patterns for
language use change then a lack of trust between the participants in an interaction may arise.
This can also be related to expressions of patriotism as described by Connor (2007) and the
requirement for outward expressions of loyalty, which minimise uncertainty regarding
someone else's intentions. For Seligman, trust is a situation of vulnerability due to a certain
degree of ignorance or basic uncertainty regarding someone else's motives (Seligman
1997:22). Departing from Seligman's line of thinking, a speech community with members
sharing norms of language usage is a basis for the creation of trust. This entails that
individuals that do not share the same language may have difficulty in creating a feeling of
certainty and a familiarity of interaction with their interlocutors, and consequently, may
experience difficulty in building trust, which in turn affects the functioning of the society in
which these individuals interact. In the case of this study, the building of trust between
Americans and immigrants is at stake. In the context of the US, Nicolau and Valdivieso
(1992:317-318) state that the spread of assumptions claiming that Hispanics are reluctant to
learn English or accept its role in the American society has promoted ethnic tensions that
negatively affect Hispanic integration. According to them, these suspicions of Hispanics have
led members of the American society to send Hispanics a message that reads: "We don't trust
you – we don't like you – we don't think you can fit in – you are too different – and there seem
to be far too many of you".
Even though there may be resistance to or acceptance of a certain group, relations and
contact between different groups are inevitable and result in the establishment of hierarchies
based on what is considered to have legitimate value. In light of this, the next section will deal
with notions of power and participation of the individual in different social contexts.
3.6 Habitus and symbolic domination
For Bourdieu, all linguistic exchanges are relations of power between speakers or groups. In
explaining social relations and identities, Bourdieu presents the concept of 'habitus' as the
social structures that each individual has programmed within them and which affects their
behaviour and their understanding of the world around them (Bourdieu 1991:37). Habitus is
thus "a set of dispositions which incline agents to act and react in a certain way. These
dispositions generate practices, perceptions and attitudes which are 'regular' without being
consciously co-ordinated or governed by any 'rule'" (Bourdieu 1991:12). The habitus thus
governs an individual's practices and beliefs and also determines an individual's linguistic
behaviour and value judgements regarding language (Spolsky 2004:186). The behaviour of an
individual is dependent on the social views, norms and practices within a social context
whereby certain ways are seen as more appropriate than others. These choices of what is most
adequate are part of a long historical process. The emergence of a dominant language or a set
of linguistic practices is a result of historical conflict (Bourdieu 1991:5).
The habitus is not only produced by the market but is also significant in its reproduction
(Bourdieu 1991:81-82). Bourdieu uses the terms 'field' or 'market' to refer to a "structured
space of positions in which the positions and their interrelations are determined by the
distributions of different kinds of resources or 'capital'"(1991:14). The field/market is the
place of action where individuals are in constant struggle to either maintain or change the
distribution of capital (Bourdieu 1991:14). Examples of markets are for instance the
linguistic, labour, political, economic or educational markets (Bourdieu 1991:298). The
market is linked to the individual by its influence on the types of competence an individual
acquires and the constraints imposed on its usage. In other words, the individual has access to
certain forms of speaking and also speaks in different ways depending on the market they are
interacting in. The use of language is based on the practices that are considered legitimate in
that particular society (Bourdieu 1991:81-82) and with regard to that particular market. Each
individual, through experience, has unconsciously acquired a notion of the social values of
different linguistic uses in a variety of markets. This entails that the individual must possess
knowledge of the value of one's own linguistic repertoire which also indicates the position of
the individual in the market (Bourdieu 1991:82). Consequently, since individuals act within
specific contexts, it is the relation between habitus and markets that serve as the base for
practices and perceptions (Bourdieu 1991:14).
Bourdieu suggests that there are different types of capital – 'economic capital' dealing with
material wealth; 'social capital' (Bourdieu 1991:14, 230), which refers to significant and
influential contacts an individual has in the given society; 'cultural capital' which is the scope
of the individual's knowledge and acquisition of skills; and 'symbolic capital' which refers to
the accumulated status, prestige, reputation, fame originating from the capital of other fields
and in which linguistic power plays a significant role. Also the acquisition of one type of
capital can be converted and used in another market e.g. education can lead to better
employment possibilities (Bourdieu 1991:14; Mesthrie and Deumert 2000:343). For
Bourdieu, the position of an individual in the social space is in terms of the position they
occupy in the fields and the organisation of power in the various fields as regards the different
types of capital. The symbolic capital is a separate capital in the sense that its form, such as
prestige, reputation and fame, is dependent on the perception and recognition of the different
kinds of capital as legitimate. Bourdieu sees the economic field as dominating and imposing
its structure on the other fields – although he also gives a prominent position to cultural
capital (Bourdieu 1991:230, 244). In my reading of Bourdieu, this also entails that that the
hierarchical positioning of the individual in the economic field will ultimately define their
positioning in the other fields and, in light of Mesthrie and Deumert's interpretation of
Bourdieu, in which an individual's capital is dynamic and therefore changes throughout their
life (Mesthrie and Deumert 2000:342-344), an immigrant individual must first achieve a
positioning in the economic field to be an active member of a society and thus have a strong
chance of increasing their symbolic capital. Acquisition of specific education is also important
to the individual but its obtainment requires long-term involvement and commitment – a
possibility that is often unavailable to newly arrived immigrants, especially if they have
immigrated for economic reasons. A further consequence of this line of thought is that any
attempts at integration or assimilation must come through strengthening a position in the
economic field of the immigrant individual. According to Bourdieu, the market is a place of
struggle over symbolic power and those speakers that do not have the legitimate competence
are subject to exclusion from domains in which this competence is used (Bourdieu 1991:54,
242). With regard to the official English debate taken up in this study, an indication of
existential threat is perceived in the linguistic marketplace due to the arrival of immigrants
who maintain their language, particularly Hispanics. This thesis attempts to map the
perception and space occupied by these immigrants in the social through the attitudes
expressed in newspaper articles.
The accumulation of capital is related to an ideology of legitimate competence that entails
that those that have the dominant competence will work towards the reproduction of this
competence as the only legitimate capital (Bourdieu 1991:56). Thus, symbolic domination is
the process of imposition of norms by the dominant group(s) as regards the legitimate
competence to be used in the formal markets (Mesthrie and Deumert 2000:344). The
distinction as dominant is only guaranteed if access to the means of production of it is
unequally distributed (Bourdieu 1991:56), a factor that is guaranteed by the exclusion
mentioned above of those that do not possess the legitimate competence. This is interesting in
the case of language, since Spolsky (2004) and Grin (2006:81) both state that the more a
language is used, the more value it gains – setting it apart from "standard economic goods".
This view is in contrast to my reading of Bourdieu's perspective in which the value of the
individual in the market place reduces as more people acquire the same skill.
According to Bourdieu, linguistic utterances are the result of the dialogue between the
linguistic market and the linguistic habitus, a subset of the social habitus of an individual.
Linguistic habitus includes not only grammatical knowledge but also communicative
competence (Bourdieu 1991:37). The subset of dispositions comprising the linguistic habitus
influences the future linguistic practices of the individual. In certain linguistic markets, some
products have higher value than others and the practical competence (communicative
competence) of the individual is the ability to produce the expressions that are valued in the
specific markets, a competence that is unequally distributed in societies (Bourdieu 1991:37).
The distribution of linguistic capital is also linked to the distribution of other types of
capital which help to locate the individual in the social. This means that linguistic variation
locates speakers in a society (Bourdieu 1991). The individual that has the most linguistic
capital has advantages in the social space. The individual gains advantage in the given society
if their linguistic capital is unequally distributed and as such the capital is awarded higher
value (Bourdieu 1991:18). This may also apply to the language the individual speaks in a
multilingual society. Regarding Spolsky's claim that the value of a language increases the
more people there are that use the language (Spolsky 2004:6), it can be argued that this is only
applicable if one sees language as an entity and not as containing varying social status
conferred to different linguistic variations. In other words, one might say that a language
gains higher value –using Spolsky's meaning – if one million people speak it rather than ten
thousand. However within that group of a million, maintenance of difference through social
hierarchy entails that some linguistic expressions within that language variety are more
valued. Consequently, those that have acquired those sought after expressions are at an
advantage in that given society – using Bourdieu's line of thought. Looking at the ideological
debates regarding bilingual education of working-class Latino-immigrant families in Colorado
and California, Galindo concludes that the linguistic capital of the group is dependant on
recognition from social institutions such as teachers and officials and not so much on whether
members of communities possess them or not. Galindo sees Latino parents as excluded from
participating in their children's schooling because their linguistic resources are devalued.
Editors of monolingual newspapers as well as policy makers disregard the need for bilingual
competencies and the possibilities of multilingualism in a global economy. He further states
that in anti-bilingual education discussions and accounts of previous immigrant groups, the
English language and the processes of linguistic assimilation followed by language loss are
presented as a natural and unavoidable phases towards becoming an American (Galindo
Therefore, the concept 'linguistic market' can be related to the value of the languages
spoken in multilingual societies. In the context of this study, this would mean that the use of
English may have a higher symbolic value in the American market, which is transferred to the
value of the verbal production of the speaker using English. Thus, in this way, different
languages have different values in the marketplaces in the US and, as Bourdieu (1991:46)
states, the "integration into a single 'linguistic community', which is a product of the political
domination endlessly reproduced by institutions capable of imposing universal recognition of
the dominant language, is the condition for the establishment of relations of linguistic
domination" (Bourdieu 1991). In other words, people who speak a dominant language or have
acquired the dominant linguistic features have advantages, but it is important to note that it is
not the dominant language itself that has power rather its speakers. According to Bourdieu,
reference to an official language as the language reinforces its established authority and
dominance. The official language representing the state and social uses through institutions
becomes or is the "objective" norm by which linguistic practices are measured (Bourdieu
1991:45-46). Symbolic domination only functions if a linguistic practice is given recognition
from a group as a form of symbolic capital and thus gains legitimacy. A legitimate language is
therefore dependent on the recognition in the society for its legitimacy to be validated
(Bourdieu 1991:72-73).
Criticism to Bourdieu's model is that he does not give significance to the possible
resistance of symbolic domination and that he focuses on relations of power rather than the
idea of solidarity (Mesthrie and Deumert 2000:350). An aspect of resistance may be situations
in which the use of non-recognised (in terms of accepted forms based on legitimacy)
linguistic products may carry value in dominated in-group relations. In other words their
usage attributes status to the individual within the minority or powerless group. Consequently,
in non-dominant groups, a certain capital may be seen as more valuable to acquire than others
in order to mark resistance and/or solidarity.
In light of the difference of value of the different types of capitals, and more specifically,
the difference of value of the various languages in the marketplace, the next section looks at
issues surrounding language shift and language maintenance.
3.7 Language shift and language maintenance
Contact between different language groups due to immigration is expected to lead to the new
arrivals adopting the host country's language as their main mode of communication in the
society. For Fishman (as cited in Mesthrie and Leap 2000:253), language shift is a gradual
process by which the individual or minority community replaces their original socialising
language with another language. This can be related to Clyne's view that it is necessity that
determines the long-term usage of languages (Clyne's 1997:308). Bearing in mind Clyne's
statement of language usage based on necessity, it is important to consider aspects of
intolerance and lack of structural/institutional support for using or maintaining minority
languages. According to the present author, these factors are primary and determine the longterm necessity that individuals feel towards usage of certain languages or language varieties
rather than others.
Ager states that linguistic insecurity may result in language shift since speakers become
aware of the low prestige connected to their language or language variety. He further claims
that the protection and preservation of linguistic identity, as well as the more general identity
of the community, is essentially connected to the community's own self-image (Ager 1999:9).
This view is derived from Fishman's (1991:28, 96, 179, 197) claim that a positive self-image
of a community may halt or reverse language shift processes. Moreover, referring to the
perception of external threats affecting social, technical and cultural changes in a particular
society, Ager claims that groups within powerful communities, with resources and selfawareness, will feel less insecure than groups that occupy a weaker position in a given society
(Ager 1999:9).
It is not possible to discuss language shift without referring to the opposed process,
namely language maintenance, i.e. "the continuing use of a language in the face of
competition from a regionally and socially more powerful language" (Mesthrie and Leap
2000:253). The size of the group of speakers may affect language maintenance patterns e.g.
Hispanics in the US are said to maintain their language since new immigrant groups are
constantly arriving. Other factors are language status and economic value of the language
(Clyne 1997:309), which can be related to Bourdieu's concept of the 'linguistic market' in
which the choice of code reflected in an individual's linguistic behaviour indicates the
legitimised capital (Mesthrie and Deumert 2000:349). Furthermore, language maintenance is
also dependent on the motivation or power demonstrated by its group of speakers. According
to Spolsky (2004:204), although Spanish speakers in the US have gained recognition in the
political sphere as voters, there is no significant mobilisation by members of this group
towards reversing the present language shift processes towards English.
Furthermore, what factors – language, dress, religion etc. – carry identity and can be
perceived as subjected to domination is dependent on what Smolicz (1995) calls "core
values". He claims that groups have core cultural values that are fundamental to their
existence and that some groups may place language as a core value (Smolicz 1995), an action
which makes language a possible referent for security. According to Smolicz, maintenance of
a language is best accomplished in groups in which language is a part of other core values,
such as historical consciousness, religion or family cohesion rather than when language alone
is the value marking identity (Smolicz 1995:235-237; Smolicz cited in Clyne 1997:310; see
also Smolicz cited in Ager 2001:101-102 for expressions of core cultural values in Polish,
Chinese and Welsh communities in Australia).
According to Clyne, Smolicz's "core theory" encounters the problem of what a "group" is,
since constellations may vary within large communities due to political, religious or social
reasons (Clyne 1997:310). Another possible argument against Smolicz's emphasis on
language maintenance through language being one of several core values is that there is a
greater tendency to create group boundaries and more differentiated groups since identity
becomes more specific, which may result in greater occurrences of inter-group conflict. In
other words, the greater the number of features (or core values) members have to have in
order to become part of a group, the greater the possibility that smaller groups will form and
the greater the tendency for inter-group friction. In other words, if language forms the tool by
which individuals can communicate, then the higher the proficiency acquired due to
communication, the greater the tendency to identify with the language and thereby the
group/individuals that speak it. This is then the belief that instrumental use of language can
lead to intrinsic identification in which language becomes what Smolicz calls a "core value".
However, if language is only a part of a set of other core values, then membership into a
specific group can be very restricted, since the new member's characteristics needs to be
compatible with several factors.
Smolicz's view is related to Réaume's view that language and culture are connected since
language provides the conceptual frames for expression and a way of living (Réaume 1994).
This can be further related to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in which an individual's perception
of the world is affected by the language they speak and its culture-based categories that serve
to organise the world (as cited in Wardaugh 2002). Thus, the protection of a specific culture
can be achieved to some extent by protecting the language in which that culture is expressed.
Réaume further sees language as a participatory good in which its usage, maintenance and
development is a collective action and further argues for the right for linguistic security 9 as a
group right, bearing in mind the definition of right in which "X has a right if an aspect of X's
wellbeing is sufficient reason to justify imposition of duties on others" (Réaume 1994:120,
127) and further states that:
The right to linguistic security, then, can be understood, first, as the right to pursue normal
processes of language transmission and maintenance without interference. This right
would preclude any attempt to prohibit use of the language in the normal range of contexts
or to prohibit the education of children of the group in the language (Réaume 1994:129).
This is mainly accomplished through laws – and thus causing impact based on its
collective effect. Secondly, Réaume relates linguistic security to the contexts or domains in a
society where language can be used to reflect unequal relations of power e.g. subtle forms of
interference in language use which maintain inequality such as organising governmental
institutions by taking for granted that individuals will speak the language of the majority.
Thus organising social structures such as establishing a monolingual school system or labour
market may force members of minority language speakers to assimilate linguistically – a
result achieved without explicit coercion through law (Réaume 1994:129-130). Bearing in
mind Réaume's view relating linguistic security to group rights, the question then arises to
what extent the majority e.g. in the US, has a duty towards providing measures of ensuring
immigrant minority language maintenance, if one takes account that the state has limited
resources to distribute. This aspect can be linked to Bloomfield's (1933:55-56) claim that in
the US, immigrants, especially children of immigrants, often undergo language shift.
However, the more educated the parents, the greater the possibility of their children becoming
bilingual. Thus, in the less educated groups, language shift is more common. In this way,
group formations can be said to vary even within subgroups. Studies have nevertheless shown
that language shift is often accomplished by the third generation e.g. Veltman's (1983:213)
study indicates that immigrants in the US shift to English closer to the second generation gap
rather than to the third generation. However this trend may change if one takes account of
Clyne's (1997:310) claim that the cultural value system of a society may transform and affect
the position of a particular language as a core value, and therefore, create a possible change in
the direction of language shift that is taking place in the US.
The concept of 'linguistic security' is different to that of 'linguistic insecurity'. Linguistic insecurity refers to the
negative language attitudes or feelings that speakers have towards their own native variety or to the features it
contains resulting in insecurity regarding the correctness of the forms they use when speaking.
Giles, Bourhis and Taylor (1977:308-310) present a model that deals with the viability of
the survival of a group that is identified by their mother tongue through 'vitality' of a group.
The concept of 'vitality' is linked to those aspects that make a group behave as a separate
collective in inter-group situations. Thus, ethnolinguistic vitality is an accumulation of
sociocultural aspects that position a group as a functioning distinct entity. If the vitality of the
group is low, then it will have fewer chances to continue as a distinct collective entity.
Consequently, the higher the vitality of the group, the greater the possibility the group has to
survive as a society. The vitality of a language group is based on factors such as status,
demography and institutional support (Giles, Bourhis and Taylor 1977:308-310). In the
context of the US, this entails that Hispanics have significant group vitality potential due to
their large numbers and, if these numbers are consequently replenished by new arrivals,
motivation for language maintenance may increase, increasing also, Hispanic group vitality.
Barker et al (2001) present a paper on the possible effects that the English-only movement
may have on people's view on the language vitality of minority groups or in some cases of
their own group. Particular focus is on Hispanic groups. Fear underlies concern among the
Anglo majority for the status of English, resulting in action to limit the opportunities of
linguistic minorities to education, information and tradition; even though studies have shown
that there is no reason for this insecurity. Their study shows that the Spanish-language group,
although increasing in numbers, is not a challenge for the English-language group since they
are still limited in economic and political power as well as educational level (although
Spanish is making its presence felt in the mass media and in many communities). Wright
(2005), in a critical discourse analysis of the media representation of language policy in major
US newspapers during the end of 2002 and the beginning of 2003, concludes that the Spanish
language is significant in the context of the United States but attitudes are contradictory.
Businesses train their own English speaking staff to learn a foreign language but do not hire
bilinguals and at the same time there is antagonism towards programmes for teaching English.
Debates concerning educational programmes that are bilingual are interpreted as Spanish-only
and often relate to debates about immigration and the school board. In contrast, foreign
language learning for monolingual English speakers is seen positively. Also, the levels of
English proficiency achieved by immigrant children are severely viewed if they fall short of
fluency whereas English speakers are only expected to attain basic knowledge in the foreign
language program (Wright 2005).
García (1983) claims that "the concept of sociolinguistic planning for the benefit of ethnic
minorities has largely been ignored in the United States" (Garcia 1983:43). She further
identifies sociolinguistic issues that are important for Hispanics in the United States namely,
the social organisation of the ethnolinguistic group; the position of Spanish mother tongue
schools as social institutions supported and controlled by the ethnic community, and as
support for self-categorisation; and lastly the prescriptive planning of languages in Spanish –
mother tongue schools must take account of minority language rights according to her. Garcia
declares that Hispanics must claim recognition as an ethnolinguistic minority. Her focus is on
the establishment of schools. Bearing García's appeal in mind, it is worth noting that Spolsky
(2004) states that the responsibility of speaking and maintaining a mother tongue falls on the
individual rather than the state. He also believes that the state should make language choice
available but not force people to continue to speak a language due to their origin (Spolsky
Fishman (1972:123-154) relates language maintenance to the social context in which the
speakers find themselves. For him, language shift patterns in different countries are not the
result of greater or lesser language loyalty, and therefore not an example of the significance of
language for group maintenance, but rather they reflect the degree of tolerance for linguistic
pluralism practices in the whole society. In a related way, García, Morín and Rivera's
(2001:46-47) study shows that Puerto Ricans, who despite a significant shift towards English,
still face problems of integration and discrimination. In light of this, the next section develops
further aspects related to tolerance with regard to inter-ethnic conflict in multilingual
3.8 Language conflict and language contact
According to Spolsky, ethnicity may serve as a motive for conflict based on language
(Spolsky 2004:1-3). Conflicts between ethnic groups result from tension, resentment,
differences of opinion which cause uncertainty – factors which are present in inter-ethnic
contact situations (Nelde 1987:607). Williams (as cited in Nelde 1987:607) defines conflict
between ethnic groups from a sociological perspective as "contentions involving real or
apparent scares, interests, and values, in which the goals of the opposing group must be
fought, or at least neutralized, to protect one's own interests (prestige, employment, political
power, etc.)". In other words, inter-ethnic conflict is characterised by competition, threats, and
According to Nelde, the extent of conflict and its development depends on three factors:
the quantity of issues that are relevant to the parties and that cause friction between the groups
involved; the existence of factors that equalise or mitigate the contact; and the level of
uncertainty experienced by the participants. These factors reinforce and escalate each other
(Nelde 1987:607).
Confrontation of different standards, values and attitudes related to identity provide
sufficient conditions for potential language conflict (Nelde 1997:292; Nelde 1987:609).
Language contact and conflicts should be seen as a result of the relationships between
speakers of different languages and not as a consequence of languages coming in contact
(Nelde 1997:285, 291). In the case of this study, the focus is on the attitudes resulting from
the contact between immigrant language groups and the dominant English speakers in the US
(other investigative focuses may consider alternative group formations such as class –
sociolects, or regions – dialects). Crystal's (1997:13, 16) claim in this respect nevertheless
must be noted, namely that multilingualism in a community does not entail civil conflict e.g.
Switzerland, Finland, Singapore, in the same way that a single shared language does not entail
absence of civil unrest e.g. the American Civil War, the former Yugoslavia and Northern
According to Stavenhagen, interethnic conflicts are usually caused by extra-linguistic
struggles originating in structural inequalities (Stavenhagen 1990:39). This entails that if
political and economic power are shared relatively equally i.e. in a way that is satisfactory to
the groups involved, then conflict based on ethnic and linguistic difference is avoidable.
However, this can be regarded as impossible to achieve in practice and therefore the
distribution of limited resources by the state and the granting of group related rights may lead
to dissatisfaction if certain groups regard themselves as deprived. Language conflict as
constructed through disagreement on extra-linguistic factors is also expressed in the statement
by Nelde (1987:608) in which the
climax of a political language conflict is reached when all conflict factors are combined in
a single symbol, language, and quarrels and struggles in very different areas (politics,
economics, administration, education) appear under the heading language conflict. In such
cases, politicians and economic leaders also operate on the assumption of language
conflict, disregarding the actual underlying causes... with the result that language assumes
much more importance than it has at the outset of the conflict (Nelde 1987:608).
Language conflict can arise if a dominant language group controls authoritative
institutions in the society followed by advantages to in-group members. Tension can also arise
if one language variety or one particular language is asserted as the only means of
communication or social mobility (Dixon and Simpson 1994:1957; Nelde 1987:607-8). In this
environment, the other groups are left with the choice of assimilating or resisting, the latter
being the choice of groups that are larger demographically or form a stronger limited group.
Loyalty among group members can be used to promote cohesion or disintegration and
language loyalty, as a base of asserting identity, can be used as a political tool to mobilise
political participation. In this respect, through their link to identity, attitudes connected to
loyalty and pride can lead to conflict. The Hayakawa amendment, presented in 1981, aimed at
declaring English as the official language of the US is an example of the expectation that a
linguistic minority should acquire the identity of the majority or dominant group by means of
linguistic assimilation (Dixon and Simpson 1994:1957-1959).
Thus, the choice of what status is to be attributed to what languages and the respective
functions and domains in which these languages are used in the context of a multilingual
country can be a source of conflict (Dixon and Simpson 1994:1957). Nelde claims that in any
society, a system of hierarchy of linguistic communities is always present – a fact that entails
that there is always a potential for conflict (Nelde 1997:294).
Finally, as regards relationships between ethnic groups, although languages cannot be said
to be the cause of ethnic violence, they may nevertheless be seen as a contributing factor
(Spolsky 2004:2) towards instability especially if it is perceived as a core referent for group
identity. With regard to this, and in light of Turi's (1995:111) claim that language legislation
has as goal the resolution of language problems resulting from language contact, conflict, and
inequality, the next section will deal with issues related to security and language policy
making theories and concerns.
4 Theoretical and methodological points of departure
4.1 Security studies
There are two views on security studies, the traditional perspective focusing on military
power with a state-centred approach, and a recent, broader perspective that calls for the
referent objects of security not to be confined to the military-political sectors but to also
include the economic, societal and environmental sectors (Buzan 1998:1). An explanation for
the rise of this new approach, lies in the changes that resulted in the international system due
to the breakdown of bi-polar Cold War structures, which brought in its wake a new generation
of writers who saw the need to extend the study of security.
Discussions about what should be included in security studies also indicate a lack of
consensus concerning the definition of 'security'. The same then may be said regarding the
expression 'national security'. Since this study deals with immigration in the US, below are
some attempts to define 'national security' as taken up in Buzan (1991):
Security, in any objective sense, measures the absence of threats to acquired values, in a
subjective sense, the absence of fear that such values will be attacked (Wolfers as cited in
Buzan 1991:17).
[National Security is] the preservation of a way of life acceptable to the …people and
compatible with the needs and legitimate aspirations of others. It includes freedom from
military attack or coercion, freedom from internal subversion and freedom from erosion of
the political, economic and social values which are essential to the quality of life (National
Defence College, Canada as cited in Buzan 1991:17).
[A] threat to national security is an action or sequence of events that (1) threatens
drastically and over a relatively brief span of time to degrade the quality of life for the
inhabitants of a state, or (2) threatens significantly to narrow the range of policy choices
available to the government of a state or to private, nongovernmental entities (persons,
groups, corporations) within the state (Ullman as cited in Buzan 1991:17).
Since their founding, modern states have been faced with cultural and political challenges
brought by migration. Transnational migration challenges one of the main features of
sovereignty of a given state namely, control of its borders. States are thus faced with expenses
attached to keeping stricter border controls. An example is the US-Mexican border in which
there are social, economic, and political costs in maintaining border security (The Economist
as cited in Heisler and Layton-Henry 1993:149). Movements from the less developed to the
more developed parts of the global economy can be described in terms of a "process of chain
migration" in which new migrants follow the example of those that have already migrated.
Thus, the increase of immigrants in the host country may be seen as resulting from networks
of family ties (Heisler and Layton-Henry 1993:149) or possibly also information spread
widely in the imigrants' native countries.
The meeting between two groups can lead to one collective identity feeling threatened by
the other. At the level of the state, protection of the national culture can become a part of state
security policy. However, if minorities perceive measures of state protection as threatening, a
situation of security dilemma may arise in which groups increase measures to protect their
own identity as a result of a perception of threat from another group (Noreen et al. 2002:21).
This relationship of defence can be described as a dialogically reinforcing reaction process
and since, as Fishman, May, Taylor, among others describe, language as linked to identity
(Fishman 1972; Fishman 1966; May 2005; Taylor 1994a:32), language can become the locus
of struggle between groups.
4.1.1 Broadening security studies
Security in social science literature is defined as the absence of threat in which threat may be
based in real circumstances. In some cases, a threatening picture may be perceived even
though the threat itself may not exist.
The construction of threat is part of a process which can be analysed at three different
levels, although all need not be present. At one level, threat occurs in the mind of the
individual. Secondly, the threatening picture may be constructed due to people speaking of
something as a threat. The transference then is from a perceived threat existing as a thought to
a spoken threat entering or being securitised in the social sphere. In this way, a threat may
enter the public debate via the media and possibly even enter the next level, namely become
part of the political agenda (Noreen et al. 2002:10-13). The present study is concerned with
the discourses of threat in the public debate in newspapers in the United States regarding
official English, which can be related to the study carried out by Noreen et al who mapped the
ways in which politicians and opinion makers such as journalists and researchers in the Baltic
countries expressed perceived threat after their independence from the Soviet Union, i.e. from
the 1990s to the start of the new millennium (Noreen et al. 2002:9-10).
According to Buzan, the concept of 'security' has never been properly developed and has
been treated as secondary by the realist and idealist schools of International Relations (Buzan
1991:2-3). The notions of 'power' and 'peace' as regards the problem of national security have
dominated the approaches of the realist and idealist schools respectively. The realists see
security as a derivative of power, which is the prime motive for actors/states. Those that have
a dominating position have consequently more security (Buzan 1991:2-3). In the realist
school, the premise is that states are constantly struggling for a power position in a system of
anarchy by which each state competes for achieving its national interests. In this view,
military power is the most significant coercive factor for winning a dispute (Kegley, Jr. and
Wittkopf 2001:31, 457). In contrast, the idealists see security as a result of peace. In other
words security, for the idealists, is a consequence of peace, i.e. peace is a guarantor for
security. The idealists claim to have a holistic view and focus on finding a solution to war
(Buzan 1991).
Buzan places the notion of 'security' between the notions of 'power' and 'peace', and
presents a framework of security as a motive for behaviour (see section 4.2.3 for Ager's study
on insecurity as a motive for intervention on language behaviour). Buzan's comprehensive
perspective (Buzan 1991:2-3) is in line with the constructivist view and its emphasis on the
significance of shared ideas that are developed by the actors through interaction. This means
that meanings are not only constructed but also define the interests, identities and images of
actors (people and groups), which in turn, affect their international behaviour (Kegley, Jr. and
Wittkopf 2001:45). The concept of 'identity' is central in social constructivism and from this
viewpoint the identity of the state is seen as always under construction. The components that
make up the identity of a state are mainly connected to: territory, since it forms a geographical
base for national identity; sharing a common language, which leads to stronger feelings of
belonging with some individuals rather than others; having common traditions in which
religion can be a significant factor; and a shared history that may influence the perception of a
distinct identity. The elements of language, tradition and history can be grouped together as
cultural factors (Noreen et al. 2002:19-20). Within social constructivism, institutionalised
collective beliefs create norms and procedures that guide the actions of entities such as the
state or international organisations. A social constructivist approach allows the study of what
people express focusing on what is being represented (Noreen et al. 2002:15-16).
According to Buzan, Waever and de Wilde (1998), securitisation refers to an urgent,
existential and prioritised issue that should be dealt with by top leaders. However
securitisation only takes place if those that are the object of the threatening scenario perceive
the issue as a threat, even though a real threat may not exist. Thus the presence of an
existential threat must be accepted by the audience for securitisation to take place.
Securitisation as a process is a speech act, that is, it is the utterance of security that brings into
existence a threat. Moreover, the construction of threatening pictures as a speech act – a
securitising move – is in line with social constructivism and the Copenhagen School from
within which Waever presents the speech act approach to security (Buzan, Waever and de
Wilde 1998:23-34). Thus, it is not enough for a discourse of existential threat to be linked to a
referent object to create securitisation. This process is instead referred to as a securitising
move. It is when the audience accepts the issue as a threat that the issue is securitised. The
securitising actor must be an authority although it is not necessary that it is an officially
defined authority (Buzan, Waever and de Wilde 1998:25, 33). Buzan, Waever and de Wilde
further view securitisation as an intersubjective process and "want to avoid a view of security
that is given objectively" since it is difficult to measure whether an issue is "really" a threat
(Buzan, Waever and de Wilde 1998:30). At the same time, they state that:
the label subjective, however, is not fully adequate. Whether an issue is a security issue is
not something individuals decide alone. Securitization is intersubjective and socially
constructed: Does a referent object hold legitimacy as something that should survive,
which entails that actors can make reference to it, point to something as a threat, and
thereby get others to follow or at least tolerate actions not otherwise legitimate? This
quality is not held in subjective and isolated minds; it is a social quality, a part of a
discursive, socially constituted, intersubjective realm (Buzan, Waever and de Wilde
For the purpose of this thesis, the spread and influence of the mass media – through
newspapers – is seen as a possible site for securitising moves. The patterns of speaking will be
seen to identify the speech acts of societal security. The referent object of security is the
English language and its role as the language of the United States. The threat that actors can
point to is that of the presence of immigrant non-English speaking groups.
Furthermore, Buzan stresses that semantically the word 'security' implies that the referent
can only be secure or insecure, i.e. it involves an absolute condition. Also, since security can
be further defined as the attainment of freedom from threat (Buzan 1991:18), the audience of
a security speech act is left with a dichotomising position for action.
Buzan's approach extends the traditional concept of 'security' to include societal,
economic, political, and environmental dimensions alongside the existing military dimension
(Buzan 1991:xiv). These five dimensions are seen to affect each other (Buzan 1991:20).
Buzan further classifies societal security as consisting of the maintenance of language,
national identity, culture, customs, and religion (Buzan 1998: 7-8). Societal security refers to
the collection of ideas, practices and customs that function as identifying and distinguishing
characteristics of members of a given social group. Identity in this model is the carrying
feature of a society (Waever 1993:23-24). As regards identification patterns, Buzan
(1998:139) further describes the United States as a society marked by loyalty to a
'Gesellschaft', namely as "a rational contractual agreement among individuals" (see also
Tönnies 1887/2001) based on utility (Waever 1993:18).
This investigation will focus on Waever's further development of societal security (section
4.1.2) from Buzan's framework. However, a brief overview of the other sectors presented in
Buzan's model of security follows since each sector exists in a state of dialogical relationship
to the other sectors. The disaggregation into sectors in Buzan's theory is only used as a means
of identifying patterns that otherwise may not have been visible in the complexity of the
whole entity. The analysis of the parts is then reassembled since the items in the sectors do
not exist independently of the other sectors. In general terms, economic security relates to
access to resources, finance and markets to maintain welfare, as well as a strong and powerful
state, in which strength refers to internal cohesion and power is related to external relations.
This sector is based on relationships built on products, finance and trade. Political security
refers to the stability of states, governing systems as well as ideologies that legitimise the state
and the systems of government. Environmental security is focused on the maintenance of the
biosphere. Lastly, military action is about the offensive or defensive relationships between
states based on perceived intentions (Buzan 1991:19, 97; Buzan, Waever and de Wilde
1998:7-8). Another way of describing the sectors is by means of the forms of interaction they
identify. Thus
the military sector is about relationships of forceful coercion; the political sector is about
relationships of authority, governing status, and recognition; the economic sector is about
relationships of trade, production and finance; the societal sector is about relationships of
collective identity; and the environmental sector is about relationships between human
activity and the planetary biosphere (Buzan, Waever and de Wilde 1998:7).
Within this framework, all states are vulnerable to military, environmental, economic,
political and societal threats (Buzan 1991:98). Although not of direct significance for the
focus of the current investigation, the present author considers that cybertechnology,
particularly the Internet, should be given more prominence in the framework, possibly even
separating it as a sector on its own. During 2010, mas media – tv, radio and newspapers (e.g.
BBC, CNN, The New York Times, The Guardian, Swedish Television (the news “rapport”) –
reported cases of deviation of information through unknown sites and the exposure of
classified documents on the world wide web (the WikiLeaks site). A further aspect is also the
facilitation the internet allows for the formation of transnational communities.
Moreover, for Buzan, a security analysis needs to take account of both domestic and
international perspectives, since these are essential to make sense of the problem of security
(Buzan 1991:60-61). Buzan argues for an integrative approach to understanding the national
security problem in which consideration of all levels – individual, national and international
security – and the issues related to the different sectors – military, political, economic, societal
and environmental security – should be taken into account (Buzan 1991:362) while
maintaining a state-centric approach with the state as the referent object of security (Waever
1993:25). The levels and sectors serve as departing points of enquiry permitting different
angles rather than functioning as isolated areas for policy or study (Buzan 1991:368). One of
the reasons given for a broad approach to security is the growing network of security
interdependencies in the international system which may reduce military threats between
some states but may also bring the appearance of other types of threats, such as economic
dependency or societal threats to groups fearing disappearance into international
cosmopolitanism (Buzan 1991:368-369) and to which can be added the threats deriving from
the widespread use of the Internet. Based on the reasoning of the growing significance of nonmilitary threats, Buzan (1991:138) identifies the multiculturalist fragmentation of the United
States as a possible future regional problem.
Furthermore, individual and national securities depend on the existence of a strong state.
The strong state is mainly concerned with protection from external threats but the "idea of the
state, its institutions and its territory will be clearly defined and stable in their own right"
(Buzan 1991:100, 106). The process of creating state-nations and the building of strong states
may have negative consequences for individuals and groups (Buzan 1991:106) whose
interests may be ignored or perceived as such. With regard to the focus of this study, the case
of benign neglect of minority languages, or actual intervention to strengthen the majority
language and prohibition of minority language usage by the government may lead to feelings
of insecurity and a situation of security dilemma, as mentioned in Noreen et al (2002:21 in
section 4.1). Buzan calls for the need to consider the internal structure of the state with the
issue of national security of the state. Thus, in Buzan's framework, the state, as principal
actor, is identified as the referent object for security. Individual security is subordinate to
national and international security. The state has both negative and positive effects on the
security of the individual within its borders but this relationship is reciprocal in the sense that
the state is also affected by the goals the individual identifies as the means for attaining
security (Buzan 1991:54, 58, 103).
Thus, the relationship between individual and national security is not necessarily
harmonious. Security provided by the state to the individual is done by means of direct or
indirect threats, which may have intended or unintended consequences. Tolerance to the
authority of the state by the individual is high. However, there is a permanent tension between
the individual and the collective. Individuals can enhance their own security against threats
from the state and against external threats that the state has not managed to control or lessen.
Direct action by the individual includes measures such as participation in organisations as in
militant or vigilante groups. Indirect measures take the form of political actions in which, for
instance, the individual creates pressure groups in order to affect state policy as a means of
achieving greater individual security. Buzan names four threats that individually oriented
security actions can pose to national security. The first of these problems refers to individual
or sub-state groups that become national security threats when they take the form of separatist
movements, revolutionaries or terrorist organisations. The second implication is the effect
caused by the movement of people and ideas over state borders which may make fuzzy
distinctions between domestic and national security. It may be difficult to separate between
citizens and foreigners – the latter of whom may still serve or be seen to serve the interests of
their native state. The third implication for national security due to the individual's strive for
security, are the indirect political pressures and restrictions on the state by its citizens through
public opinion and its possible consequent influence on state policy. This kind of threat is
affected by the limited possibilities that the state may have at its disposal to affect public
opinion. The fourth implication factor is the role individuals can take as leaders of a state and
their subsequent impact on national security policy making. In this situation, there is no clear
boundary between the leader and the state (Buzan 1991:50-54). The second and third
individual-based threats to the state are of interest in the debate regarding official English in
the US.
Moreover, in order to deal with the many, fragmented and possibly contradictory security
objects of the state, Buzan suggests a descriptive model to study state and national security.
The model divides the state into three components which are all subject to threats, namely the
idea of the state (creates its legitimacy among the people and as such forms its socio-political
characteristic), the institutional expression of the state (governs the physical base), and the
physical base of the state (population and territory). These components are interdependent but
it is possible to isolate them for the purposes of analysis (Buzan 1991:65, 66). The state is
therefore made up of polity, society and territory. Although the physical base – territory – is
important to the state, the essence of its existence is mainly of a socio-political character
(Buzan 1991:63). Furthermore, although state institutions are physical expressions of the
state, their functioning requires that the population has a deeply embedded idea of the state.
Therefore it is the idea of the state, its socio-political level that becomes the main object of
national security (Buzan 1991:64). Buzan uses the notions of 'strong' or 'weak' states to refer
to the level of socio-political cohesion of a state. Buzan's use of 'state' and 'weak state' differs
from other authors' usage since they use 'state' when referring "to governing institutions and
where 'weak state' refers to governments such as the American that are highly constrained
and/or diffusely structured in relation to their societies" (Buzan 1991:97-98). For Buzan,
strong states that are also strong powers, i.e. based on economic and political capability – as is
the case of the United States – have lesser vulnerabilities than weak states and weak powers.
In Buzan's view of strong states, many threats are either absorbed or prevented due to their
stability, size, and resources. Thus, these states with a strong socio-political cohesion are
relatively protected from most threats (Buzan 1991:114). With regard to socio-political unity,
this study deals with the discussions affecting the idea of the state caused by a change in the
physical base namely the composition of the population in the US as a result of immigration
particularly from Latin America.
The idea of the state is regarded as the most central and abstract part of the model (Buzan
1991:69). Buzan suggests that the idea of state is mainly built on the importance of nation and
its organising ideologies (Buzan 1991:70). Buzan defines nation as "a large group of people
sharing the same cultural, and possibly the same ethnic or racial heritage and also mainly of
people who share a history" (Buzan 1991:70). States and nations can give rise to each other.
State institutions can be used to give rise to nations e.g. the government of the United States
has consciously acted to create an idea of nation from its different territories and peoples
(Buzan 1991:71). However, government intervention to maintain cohesion e.g. by policies
that affect favourably the positioning of a particular language, can lead to feelings of relative
deprivation by other language groups.
The complex relationship between state and nation are evidenced in the civil unrests
resulting from attempts by governments to disregard natural nations in the formation of state
borders. National identity is then a fundamental aspect to the problem of national security and
can either strengthen or weaken a state (Buzan 1991:72). If there is coincidence between the
state and the territory of a nation then the state may focus on protecting its cultural identity.
Related to this, a nation-state in its purest form entails placing the nation before the state
(Buzan 1991:70-71). This can be defined as a 'primal nation-state' since the nation has a
pivotal role in creating the state and gives the state strong identity internationally and strong
legitimacy within its borders (Buzan 1991:73). In contrast, countries built on immigrant
peoples, such as the United States, fall into the category of 'state-nation' in which the state
creates the nation in a top-down process. The state supports certain cultural elements such as
language, arts, law which, with time, distinguish the state as a cultural entity and attaches a
nation-like identification to it. Also, citizens attach social loyalties to the state as in the case of
the dual identity of 'hyphenated' Americans. Consequently, even though citizens in the US
maintain a dual identity, they are not territorially organised, and there is accommodation of
their new American national identity (Buzan 1991:72-74) in the morphological structure of
their hyphenated identities, although it is worth noting the high concentration of Hispanics in
the Southern states. A case in point is mentioned by Ager when referring to the demonstrated
resistance of Puerto Ricans towards attaching hyphenated labels to themselves. For him, this
action can be interpreted as a sign of their resistance to assimilate in the host country (Ager
Threats are problematic to define. One reason is the difficulty in separating objective and
subjective threats at the individual level. There may also be a contradiction or difference
between actual threats and perceived threats. Further, fears that lead to policy decisions may
differ from the fear perceived by the population at large. In this environment, a state may
decide to meet threats to national security by adopting one of two actions namely a passive
policy, i.e. waiting for the threat to gain significance in size and deal with resolving the
causes, or an active policy, i.e. taking action while threats are still small, thus protecting their
vulnerabilities. The impact of threats and what is considered a threat is subject to change over
time (Buzan 1991:115, 138, 141-142). Human migration is a particular type of threat that
Buzan regards as a complex threat (Buzan 1991:93) since it impacts on the composition of the
population in the target country and leads to changes in social interaction patterns. In light of
this, the next section looks in more detail into societal security i.e. the relation between
immigration, identity and real or perceived threat.
4.1.2 Societal security
Waever (1993) further develops Buzan's (1991) alternative theory to the traditional view of
state-centred security. For Waever, societal insecurity based on ethnonational threats has
substituted state sovereignty and military concerns. His approach is based on a study of the
significance of societal security for integration in the European context (Waever 1993). Using
Buzan's five-sector theory, namely military, political, economic, environmental and societal,
for the framework of security of the state, Waever (1993) proposes a new approach to the
field of security studies composed of a dual focus system of security. Instead of including
society as one of the five sectors of state security, as presented by Buzan (1991), Waever
suggests a dual system of organising referents, viz, on the one hand, state security with its
focus on state sovereignty, made up of four sectors – military, political, economic and
environment – and on the other hand, societal security with its conceptual focus on identity
(Waever 1993:24-26). The dual system assumes state security and societal security as the
focal points between the individual and the international levels of security. The definition of
societal security is not based on nations as states but instead refers to large-scale, selfsupporting distinct groups (Waever 1993:21, 26; Buzan, Waever and de Wilde 1998:119).
The difference between a society and a social group is that the former contains a wide identity
construction that can challenge a state by becoming a territorially politically organised group.
National identity is the most significant and largest social and political identity (Waever
1993:23). Two types of opposing identities can be pointed out as making up national identity
in different degrees, namely political identity and cultural identity. The former refers to the
French tradition of identity of the civic-state nation, and the latter to the German, ethnic
tradition of identity or people-nation (Waever 1993; Waever and Kelstrup 1993:39, 77).
Nationalism is seen as a type of societal identity. In times of conflict, national identity has the
capacity of positioning itself in the centre of all other identities. Only religion and nationalism
have the capacity of reproducing the 'we' identity through time – a factor that reinforces their
positions forming the base for political entities (Waever 1993:22). Therefore, Waever sees
nationalism as distinct from nation by virtue of being a political action, whereas in
comparison nation is a social fact. For Waever, national identity arises after the establishment
of ethnic identity although it must be noted that not all ethnic identities are connected to a
national identity (Waever 1993:38-39). Additionally, the coincidence of nation and state is
seen to most likely contribute to the security of both units which implies that there is greater
probability to societal insecurity in states that are multinational (Buzan 1993:41). However, if
one takes account of Smolicz's (1995, see also section 3.7) view of groups identifying with
core referents to create distinctions in relation to other groups, and the constructivist view of
identity as dynamic, it could be argued that there is a risk that even within 'nations', conflict
may arise if there exists disagreement on what forms the core referent(s) of identity for the
Societal security, therefore, has its area of function in large social entities (Waever
1993:21) and is defined as
the ability of the society to persist in its essential character under changing conditions and
possible or actual threats. More specifically, it is about the sustainability, within
acceptable conditions for evolution, of traditional patterns of language, culture,
association, and religious and national identity and custom (Waever 1993:23).
Thus, societal security concerns the perception of threat by a given society to the survival
of its identity (Waever 1993:23). When people refer to a 'we' identity, language and culture
are often used as the base. However, Waever claims that this base is not an essential
characteristic of societal security and therefore "it must remain logically open that
communities can be, or become, based on whatever people take to be the decisive basis for
them. When this 'it' is threatened, 'our' identity is threatened, and 'societal security' comes into
play" (Waever 1993:40).
Although societal security focuses on a collective, the study of individual security (see
section 4.1.3 on Human security) is recognised by Waever as important since threats directed
to the security of individuals and small groups can affect other groups or, in an upwards
movement, influence the stability of the entire society (see section 4.1.1 on individually
oriented security actions). However, this does not mean that the definition of societal security
should be understood as the sum of the security of individuals or smaller groups, since this
would give the impression that security is based on an aggregation of parts. In societal
security the emphasis lies on the collective and the relationships between societies and the
state (Waever 1993:20).
Even though the separation of societal security from the traditional analysis in security
studies entails that new perspectives are brought into focus which would otherwise have not
been visible, it also implies a partial view since some aspects are emphasised over others
(Waever, Buzan, Kelstrup and Lemaitre 1993:185). A reason for focusing on societal security
is primarily due to the fact that it is not often that state and societal boundaries coincide, Also,
the referent objects of security are different in the sense that the definition of state is based on
"fixed territory and formal membership, whereas societal integration is a much more varied
phenomenon" (Buzan, Waever and de Wilde 1998:119). Furthermore, societies are regarded
as independent entities that carry identities and which, on perception of threats, take action to
defend their identity (Waever, Buzan, Kelstrup and Lemaitre 1993:185). Since identity is the
conceptual focus and organising frame of societal security, if a community perceives a threat
to its survival as a collectivity on the basis of its identity, then a situation of societal insecurity
has arisen. Groups which constitute referent objects of security are maintained by the loyalty
of members. The same feelings of loyalty and belonging are activated by arguments claiming
that there is a threat to the survival of the shared 'we' identity (Buzan, Waever and de Wilde
1998:119, 123).
The threats to societal identity can vary from limiting the possibilities of expression to
affecting the conditions for its reproduction. Negative measures can include the prohibition to
use the language and names used by a particular social group. Other restrictive measures are
related to dress codes, education and worship (Waever 1993:43) – factors that are often linked
to expressions of identity. Language, although the most common ground for national identity,
cannot, according to Waever (1993), constitute the only and sufficient factor for threat and
conflict to arise since there are nations that are formed without a shared language as in the
case of Switzerland. Also, or in contrast, there are cases in which language does not lead to
joining of communities such as in the case of Alsatians, who although German speakers, view
themselves as belonging to the French 'nation' (Waever 1993:40; Weber 1997:24).
Communities are formed and based on factors that are dependant on what people consider
as important for keeping them together and when this factor is threatened it is then that the
identity of the group is threatened and thus societal security becomes an issue (Waever
1993:40; see Smolicz 1995:236-237 in section 3.7 for core identity features). With this in
mind, language and culture can be said to not form fundamental unchanging features for
establishing societal security since the definition of nation based on these factors is a
consequence of historical contingency that constructs identity (Waever 1993:40).
Distinguishing societal security as an entity separate from state security has the advantage
of bringing into focus issues of identity and migration and consequently widening the debate
of security. Also, societal security makes evident the problems related to integration policy
such as situations in which identities that are affected by the process of integration may react
by attempting to obstruct or reverse the same processes (Waever, Buzan, Kelstrup and
Lemaitre 1993:186).
However as Waever, Buzan, Kelstrup and Lemaitre point out, separating societal security
as an independent entity brings certain disadvantages. Firstly, due to society not being as solid
a coherent unit for analysis as the state, it is the various institutions or actors – with varying
degrees of legitimacy – that speak on its behalf. Secondly, the concept of 'societal security'
can be seen as giving legitimacy to actions that lie outside the government such as those
involving violence. In this way, societal security may involve actions that de-legitimise the
state. Thirdly, the question lies in the definition of society and its relation to the individual
members and the degree of perception of shared identities for its definition. Fourth, the
objective of security studies is to eliminate circumstances that lead to the need to speak about
security. It therefore works towards de-securitisation. In other words, the long-term aim of
security studies is the removal of issues from the security agenda (Waever, Buzan, Kelstrup
and Lemaitre 1993:187-189). It can be claimed that the use of 'societal security' as a concept
entails the achievement of security as a policy goal as desirable, thus drawing attention to
securitisation rather than de-securitisation and as such falling into the realist school's thought
in International Relations (see section 4.1.1). It also implies a possibility of attaining full
security – if one considers Buzan's (1991) argument of security as an absolute term – which
according to the present author, is paradoxically often lessened by policies, as intervention
always carries a distribution of advantages or disadvantages and thus a lessening or gaining of
power, status, and/or prestige for specific groups.
Furthermore, Waever states that it is necessary to keep in mind that societies have multiple
political and social identities of which national identity becomes the most dominant – and
around which all the other identities become organised – in times of uncertainty. Therefore
the relationship between the possible different identities in a society must be considered as
hierarchical and subject to change (Waever 1993:22). This implies that not only are identities
dynamic but also the relationship between groups carrying identities can be considered as
dynamic. A further implication is that societal identity can be formed from organising
communities in different formations. National identity is established by shift along a
continuum of two opposing poles, namely the political identity of the French tradition and the
cultural identity from the German tradition of ethnic groupings (Waever 1993:39).
The constructability of national identity as mentioned by Waever (1993) has led to
questions of whether identity is fixed at any given point. Waever, Buzan, Kelstrup and
Lemaitre's (1993) use of society as a distinguished referent of security is, according to Roe,
criticised as objectifying society and identity. Debate has circulated around the issues of
whether society and identity are objects or processes. If they are seen as the former then they
will have a static and fixed quality. If, on the other hand, society and identity are perceived as
processes then they carry dynamic and changing attributes. Buzan and Waever maintain that
their approach is constructivist and that identities at some point become constructed as a result
of processes and practices therefore making identity a "thing" and consequently containing
the necessary qualification for it to be used as a referent for security as an identifiable entity.
Within the Copenhagen School (and therefore also for Buzan and Waever), identities are said
to be temporary and subject to reconstruction – qualities that allow their identification as a
"thing" to which individuals create a relationship (Roe 1999:193). Norms and conventions
that relate to the "performance" of an ethnic identity contribute to the idea of identification as
a "thing". Lindholm (1993:15) explains that "ethnic identities and ethnicity are both chosen,
voluntary and constructed/invented/imagined and perceived as absolute, given and fixed".
Competing identities and migration constitute the most prominent threats to societal
security. Contesting identities become threats when they are mutually incompatible which
also means that an individual cannot hold two identities at the same time (Buzan 1993:43-44).
Thus attempts are made to create clear boundaries between groups and group membership. It
is worthwhile noting that viewing identities as dynamic and constructed implies that criteria
for incompatibility between groups can change. In cases where the state and the boundaries of
the nation are not the same, there will be an inverse relationship between the state and the
nation, in which an increase in the security of one increases the insecurity of the other
(Waever 1993:26). As regards nationalist movements, Van Evera (1994:28) states that these
movements often create images of minorities inside the national borders as having malign
intentions that need to be suppressed. By arguing from these perspectives they put forward
arguments for not granting minority rights. According to Van Evera (1994:13) the American
nationalism is relatively tolerant to minorities – a characteristic it holds in common with other
immigrant nations. A view that is similar to Kloss' (1977) claim regarding language policies
in the US but which is also contested by Wiley (2000), who claims that there has been an
inclination to linguistic assimilation in the country (see section 1).
A dynamic view on societal identity implies that not all change will be perceived as
constituting threats and also that these are perceived equally among all groups. Smaller
communities and individuals may perceive vulnerabilities and threats in cases where the
larger collectivities or society do not find the survival of their identity challenged (Buzan
1993:42). In the US, opinions differ regarding the use of Spanish and its official recognition
as well as regarding immigration numbers. Groups that perceive the American identity as
represented in terms of the white Anglo-Saxon individual will feel a greater threat from the
arrival of non-Anglo-Saxon immigrants. On the other hand, individuals or groups that
consider the American identity as based on the ideology of the melting pot will perceive
immigration from non-white Anglo descent as less threatening (Buzan 1993:43). Buzan,
Waever and de Wilde (1998:125) state that "if a nation is built on a melting pot ideology of
different groups blending into one new group, the existing national identity will be vulnerable
to a reassertion of racial and cultural distinctiveness…(e.g. multiculturalism in the United
States)." Here it is important to make a distinction between perceived threats that are real and
perceived threats that, although unreal, come to have real effects (Buzan, Waever and de
Wilde 1998; Buzan 1993:43).
The identity of a society can gradually change due to immigration or is perceived as likely
to change because of contact with new groups. According to Buzan (1993:43), a breaking
point might be reached in which the numbers of individuals that have immigrated begin to
have social and political impact and as a consequence affect the identity of their host
environment. This is where the level of tolerance of a society towards multiculturalism and
adaption or absorption becomes an issue (Buzan 1993:43, 45). The types of behaviour
displayed by immigrants may create intolerance within the majority population to rising
immigrant numbers. A behavioural example that can create negative attitudes is if the
immigrant works towards maintaining the identity of their home country and expresses it in
an extreme form by minimising interaction with the target community or by creating cultural
ghettos – as is the case of some Hispanics in the United States. However, immigrants may
also seek absorption into the target community leading to the disappearance of their cultural
identity due to acculturation of new generations into the target majority community (Buzan
1993:45). Nevertheless, the view of the Other as foreign may lead to immigrant minorities,
although socialising into the national culture and learning the host language, still not being
perceived as full members of the national group by the dominant population (Waever
Although integration patterns and levels of tolerance towards new cultures are often
sources of conflict, immigration is still an option for many people. Ager (2001:109) provides
two motives to explain immigration patterns to the US. On the one hand, negative reasons, socalled push factors originate in the immigrant's country and are occasioned by factors such as
persecution due to religion, politics, economics, lack of resources, social aspects or race,
natural catastrophes, employment, and war (Ager 2001). In relation to the migration of
Hispanics in the US (bearing in mind the numbers of immigrants that cross the physical
border to North America), it is possible to say that political-economic conditions (as well as
criminality) can be seen as contributing push factors. According to Ager (2001), these kinds
of migrants or refugees may attempt to reconstruct their home society in the new country.
This may be of significance for this study if one relates it to patterns of integration and
segregation and to Buzan's statement above, namely that the behaviour of immigrants may
create feelings of intolerance. Ager also identifies positive reasons for cross-border movement
of people, so-called "pull" factors originating in the richer countries and which attract
immigrants who hope to improve their personal economic situation (Ager 2001:109). In the
case of the US, its reputation as a nation of immigrants and the widespread image of the
"American Dream" can be seen as "pull" factors for encouraging immigration. Ager further
identifies personal relations such as marriage as constituting a possible motive. Other factors
are labour shortages, high wages, peace and stability, or low-cost living. These migrants may
wish to assimilate and adopt the language of the host country (Ager 2001:109; Tollefson
1991:107) in which intentions for long-term settlement may have significant weight.
However, in some cases although immigrants plan to settle in the new country, they may still
maintain their home country's language and customs, which may also indicate a failure of
integration planning in the host country.
Buzan, Waever and de Wilde emphasise migration as one of three combinable factors that
can cause threats to societal security of the receiving community. The other two being
horizontal competition and vertical competition. Horizontal competition deals with a change
in the behaviour of a group due to influences from neighbouring countries e.g. cultural
influences such as the fear of Americanisation in Canada or, at a more local level, the fear of
English speaking Canada in Quebec. Vertical competition refers to the integrating (e.g. the
EU) or secessionist regionalist (e.g. Quebec) projects for inclusion into a more widely or
narrowly defined identity. A possible fourth issue of threat is depopulation e.g. due to wars,
policies or natural catastrophes (Buzan, Waever and de Wilde 1998:121).
Societal threat is most felt when newcomers have a different ethnicity or culture (Buzan
1991:93). Buzan further states that due to migration, redefinition of the 'nation' and by
implication the idea of the state may be necessary. Fears regarding changes affecting the idea
of the state have greater political impact than the idea of cosmopolitanism, and therefore are
easily mobilised as a security issue within a political agenda, as in the case of Latin
Americans in the United States who are establishing bilingualism in parts of the US. Further,
laws on international migration have little impact in creating impermeable borders.
Additionally, Buzan stresses that migration can relate to the economic and environmental
sectors since new arrivals may be seen as competing for scarce resources. Thus, local
conditions determine whether newcomers are considered as constituting threats to a national
identity or as economic and/or cultural resources. He further claims that the issue of migration
is becoming important as a part of the security agenda, especially for the richer countries
(Buzan 1991:93-95).
Within the dual system of security presented by Waever (1993) in which societal security
is separated from state security (cf. Buzan 1991 in section 4.1), the economic framework is
seen as based on the capitalist global economy, which can constitute a threat to societal
security from three situations, namely the efficient and inefficient working of capitalism as
well as threats originating in the structural system of global capitalism. Looking at the first
point of efficient capitalism, one of the main conditions on which it rests is the need for
individuals to feel insecurity in the marketplace. A further threat is due to an efficiently
working capitalist system which creates tension between the traditional societal identities such
as language, history, and culture, and capitalism's tendency to homogenisation of culture
through wider and global interactions as well as its class-creating mechanisms. While
weakening traditional societal identities, modern capitalism has also created a new identity for
citizens, namely citizens as consumers, which may, to some extent, compete with former
traditional national or societal identities. Furthermore, modern capitalism affects socialisation
processes by reducing shared norms which often promote successful inclusion of youth or
immigrants. Thus, by diminishing social interaction and participation of marginalised groups,
modern capitalism augments feelings of insecurity. The dissatisfaction of marginalised groups
may find expression in demonstrations, terrorism, and crime, low participation in education
and employment, as well as increased welfare dependency (Buzan 1993:51-55). The
relationship between capitalism and societal security may be viewed as conversely
proportional since political measures can be taken to limit the effects of adaptation and
competition imposed by capitalism – although these actions are not in line with liberal
economic ideologies. The government, by managing the economy and limiting the effects of
the market, can work towards increasing welfare, economic security as well as strengthening a
feeling of national identity among its citizens. This is related to the view that nationalism, i.e.
the forming of strong societal identities can act as a counterbalance to capitalism's divisive
forces – although at the same time debilitating liberal practice. In this way, the capitalist class
conflict becomes less significant to the idea of nation building (Buzan 1993:53-54) in what
Anderson (1983 as cited in Buzan 1993:53-54) describes as a shared 'imagined community'.
Secondly (with continued focus on capitalism as given in Waever's dual security model),
threat to societal security can arise when the inefficient workings of capitalism lead to
recession or depression. A decrease in welfare and the surfacing of greater inequalities in
income and wealth may even force governments towards protectionist measures in relation to
other states e.g. by placing restrictions on trade, in order to maintain social harmony. Thirdly,
the global workings of capitalism lead to a centre-periphery structural relationship of strong
and weak economies. The few centre economies control and shape the international economy
by establishing the norms and rules of action. The economies in the periphery are mainly
providers of raw material and manufacturers of low technological products, which in trade
have the lowest profit margin and fiercest competition (Buzan 1993:51-55). For the purpose
of this thesis, societal security in the United States is seen as possibly threatened by the influx
of immigrants from weaker economies in search of income. The United States government is
then faced with providing services for integration of these groups which may be perceived as
a threat by some Americans since the newcomers are non-Anglo, non-English speakers. This
can be linked to Buzan's claim that the issues of self-definition and demographic change in
the US have led white Americans of European descent to fear that immigration and the
socially explicit cultural confidence displayed by immigrant groups will eventually result in a
fragmented, multicultural country. This threat is seen as the most urgent and overshadows
fears of the United States becoming a Spanish speaking country (Buzan, Waever and de
Wilde 1998:131) although these are also present.
Waever, Buzan, Kelstrup and Lemaitre state that governments have a significant role in
creating conditions favourable for societal security through legislation. Drafting policies with
offensive or defensive strategies to deal with a societal insecurity problem also means
addressing for whom and by whom the strategies are placed. Several possible actors at
different levels can be involved namely from the individual, the societal, the state levels, and
also the international level. Societies that feel threatened may respond by strengthening their
societal identity e.g. by reinforcing aspects of culture such as language and religion with the
aim of increasing cohesion and distinctiveness of the group (Waever, Buzan, Kelstrup and
Lemaitre 1993:191-192) and possibly also by constructing a scenario for mobilisation.
However, the defensive approach can also lead to a more cosmopolitan and multicultural
approach in the economic, political and cultural spheres although simultaneously maintaining
group identity. In the case of the United States, however, an opening of societal identity
towards multiculturalism has weakened social cohesion due to ethnic divisions and a
perceived lessening of the role a common shared language – English – has in providing the
basis for social belonging and unity (Waever, Buzan, Kelstrup and Lemaitre 1993:192).
Societal security dynamics are present at both the national and regional levels in North
America. In the case of the US, loyalties exist to the country and to the individual states as in
outward expressions of patriotism seen for instance in California, Texas, Massachusetts and
New York. Despite demonstrations of loyalty being widespread, there are growing claims that
the norms in the societies reflect only the ideas and ways of the dominant white Europeandescendants and that it is necessary to make space for independent definitions of other
ethnoracial groups. Although these issues form part of the general agenda of politics and
culture, they become security matters when the arguments are based on survival of cultures
(Buzan, Waever and de Wilde 1998:129) in which language and its usage may be a factor that
is identifiable and thus a referent. The relevance of this issue is supported by Buzan's
statement that societal insecurities originating in migration issues are likely to gain
importance in future discussions regarding national security (Buzan 1991:95) which can
become language oriented if the immigrants are carriers of a strong "foreign" language from a
geographically adjacent region.
Although language is included in Waever's model (as well as in Buzan's five sector
security framework) as part of societal security, there lacks an analysis focusing solely on
language from a security perspective, which is the gap this investigation attempts to fill by
studying attitudes. The significance of public attitudes towards immigrants is relevant in light
of Buzan's statement that few states are willing to undertake the costs related to absolute
border control and that states are influenced by public opinions in the media (Buzan 1991:5054; Buzan 1993:46).
The next section will look at the concept of 'security' from an individual perspective since
a dialogical relation between collective and individual identity is assumed bearing in mind the
changes that take place when cultures and the people that practice the cultures meet on an
everyday basis.
4.1.3 Human security
Individuals participate in the construction of a society which in turn offers them group
membership and furnishes the individual with a sense of security (see Bolinger 1975).
However, the goals that the society, community or group may have for guaranteeing the
survival and development of the collective may collide with those of the individual member.
The concept of 'human security', as presented by the United Nations Human Development
Report (UNHDR), refers to the conditions for which people can safely and freely exercise
their choices with a degree of confidence that today's opportunities will not have disappeared
by the next day (UNHDR 1994:23).
Human security has its primary focus on human life and dignity rather than armaments. Its
scope is universal since it concerns all people in all parts of the world. Human security is
interdependent since it is based on the idea that countries are no longer isolated and that there
is interconnection between countries in a way that when the security of people is at risk in any
part of the world, it will affect other countries. Furthermore, it favours the view that it is easy
to ensure human security by prevention rather than intervention at a later stage; it is peoplecentred which means that it "is concerned with how people live and breathe in a society, how
freely they exercise their many choices, how much access they have to market and social
opportunities – and whether they live in conflict or in peace" (UNHDR 1994:23).
A report by the Commission on Human Security (CHS) 2002-2003 states that:
Human security means protecting vital freedoms. It means protecting people from critical
and pervasive threats and situations, building on their strengths and aspirations. It also
means creating systems that give people the building blocks of survival, dignity and
livelihood. Human security connects different types of freedoms – freedom from want,
freedom from fear and freedom to take action on one's own behalf (CHS 2002-2003).
One of the policy conclusions arrived at by the CHS dealt with the protection of migrants
and the provision of information through the public media. Another issue is accessibility to
education in order to allow the individual to develop skills that enable them to practice their
rights and responsibilities in political issues. A further conclusion was the need to ameliorate
aspects linked to health and work-related opportunities. One of the overall themes in this
document is respect for diversity and the promotion of multiple identities (CHS 2002-2003).
It is therefore interesting to see how human security is present in attitudes expressed regarding
the presence of immigrants who do not know the language of the host country. This study will
investigate how factors of human security are present in the case of the immigrants in the US.
The 1994 UNHDR's focus on global security indicated seven categories as constituting
human security. Economic security is based on the acquisition of a guaranteed minimum
income which secures also a minimum level of freedom from poverty either through job
security or public financing. Food security refers to access to basic food. Health security is
about accessibility to health care as well as protection from diseases. Environmental security
focuses on protection from environmental destruction. Personal security is security from
physical violence such as physical torture, war, ethnic tension, crime, and child abuse.
Political security is freedom from political oppression and the honouring by the society of
civil and political rights. Finally, community security relates to the protection and
continuation of traditional cultures and ethnic groups since these provide security to people
through membership. The feeling of community belonging also entails that the individual
takes on the cultural identity and values of the community as their own (UNHDR 1994).
Members of minority groups may feel that they cannot adjust fully into the majority
community since this may be viewed as an abandonment of their minority culture by their
own community. In this context, it is important to note that traditional communities might
also oppress their community members (see Kymlicka 1995, 2002 in section 3.2.1).
The broad and inclusive definition of human security as presented above has been
criticised for being one of its weaknesses. However, it is precisely its encompassing definition
that drafters of the concept believe to be its strength (UNHDR 1994:24-33, Paris 2001:90). As
a common denominator, most definitions of human security "emphasize the welfare of
ordinary people" (Paris 2001:87) but the concept also allows individual nations to adapt it to
their own interests (Paris 2001:90) which has been a source of criticism. The concept leaves
room for wide interpretations of the minimum level of human security. A further problem is
that nations are free to decide if all factors or only a combination of some factors of security
need to be achieved. A further disadvantage is the vagueness of the concept which makes
difficult the allocation of scarce resources by decision makers (Paris 2001:92). Tabyshalieva
claims that in spite of these criticisms, and although the concept of 'human security' is still
widely debated since its publication in the 1994 UNHDR, it is an important concept in
security studies (Tabyshalieva 2006:13).
In this respect, although members of the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute, which
include Buzan and Waever, propose a broadening of the concept of 'security' with 'societal
security' as a separate focus and the position of the collective as more fundamental to security
studies than the individual's security, they still acknowledge the significant role of the
individual for security issues e.g. the use of human security as an argument for attaining
political ends (Tadjbakhsh 2005:6; Tadjbakhsh 2009, Møller 2005:82, 102). Waever's (1993)
approach also recognises the dialogical effects of one security level on another. Also, if there
is a perception of threat to an individual's immediate security, the individual may react by
showing less tolerance to others (UNHDR 1994:23). In a case study from the Balkans, Møller
illustrates that national, societal and human security with their respective referent objects –
state, societal groups, and individuals – are connected, and influence each other since the
achievement of one form of security may lead to reduction in the other form. It is, thus,
important to be aware of the relationships and effects of the different forms of security on
each other when planning strategies to solve security problems (Møller 2005:79, 119-120).
Tadjbakhsh further states that since the concepts of 'security' and 'insecurity' are contextdependent for their meaning, security should be redefined to take account of the subjective
experience of the individual in their daily life (Tadjbakhsh 2009). For this reason, attitudes
expressing perceived or real threat are important for deciding policies. This study investigates
attitudes expressed in newspapers in the US regarding immigration and its relation to attitudes
concerning the role of the English language in the country.
Since government measures are aimed at members of a state and may have the effect of
reinforcing or reducing security at both group and individual levels, the next section will look
at political actions on language, that is, government actions that are aimed at affecting the
everyday language behaviour of members of a state.
4.2 Language policy
Language policy is the official planning of language by a political authority and is therefore,
linked to political power. All language policies, in similarity to other policies, may be
successful or may not attain their goals (Ager 2001:5-7). Language policies may have
underlying agendas such as social and economic gate-keeping, increase of political power, or
economic exploitation. A language policy applied to different groups in a nation state may
have different effects. An example of this is the support for English in North America since
the colonial period until the early 20th century. For some groups, namely those of European
origin, the goal was acculturation (see section 3.1 for a discussion on related concepts such as
'assimilation') with the purpose of complete assimilation at the structural level. Native
American groups were subject to deculturation with the purpose of subordination but without
incorporation at the structural level (Ricento 2000a; Ricento 2000b; Wiley 2000) thus
entailing that members of this group are largely marginalised without significant institutional
support for integration. For Ricento, language ideologies exist in relation to other nonlanguage-oriented ideologies (Ricento 2000b:4).
Some countries, but not all, have explicit language policies i.e. they exist in written form
and are part of constitutions or established by law (Spolsky 2004:4). Intervening in language
usage requires the existence of a community that is definable as a cohesive group such as
those units formed by politics, ethnicity and processes that emphasise languages as an identity
marker e.g. by including language as a precondition for group membership related to
decisions of for instance citizenship or the strengthening/augmenting of linguistic vitality by
active use of a particular language (Ager 2001:86).
The language policy process that directly concerns this study is status planning, which
involves the selection of languages/varieties for certain functions in a given society –
particularly concerning the choice of a national or official language and its implementation.
According to Spolsky, choice and implementation are dependent on their legitimacy and their
coincidence or agreement with the language practices and ideology of the community in
question (Spolsky 2004:6, 218). Haugen (as cited in Deumert 2000:389) uses the term
'acceptability criterion' which refers to the possibility for a society to accept proposed changes
in status planning.
Status policy has as objective the increase of prestige attached to a language variety by
making sure that it is used in particular official or public domains (Ager 1999:1). In the case
of the United States, it is interesting to note that English already has a de facto dominant
position in the society and is the language that is used in public domains although it may
sometimes share a particular domain with a minority language, as is the case of the use of
Spanish in the labelling of retail products.
Status policy implementation is guided by ideologies. Cobarrubias (1983) outlines four
typical ideologies for inducing language planning action, namely linguistic assimilation,
linguistic pluralism, vernacularisation and internationalisation. Assimilation relies on the
belief that everyone should speak and function in the dominant language in the given society.
The dominant language is placed in a superior position and under this ideology equal minority
language rights are in principle not granted. There are different types of assimilation e.g. New
Mexico and areas of Colorado California occupied by America in 1846 are examples of
assimilation through colonisation while Hawaii, Alaska, Louisiana and Texas serve as
examples of assimilation by annexation (Cobarrubias 1983:63-67; cf. Fasold 1984:9-12 for
processes of linguistic contact in section 3.3.1). This definition seems to concern assimilation
as regards the use of language in official instances such as education or in the formulation of
legal documents. It is however unclear whether Cobarrubias then acknowledges that under
this type of assimilation, parallel bilingualism can occur in the private sphere, bearing in mind
the implications of acceptance or tolerance and status. In Giddens' (2001) use of the term
'assimilation', no room is left for national and immigrant minority languages in a society. As
regards the other three language planning ideologies, Cobarrubias further defines pluralist
planning as permitting and recognising different languages in a society. Pluralism can range
from tolerance for specific functional use such as religious rituals and/or education to
recognition of official status – the strongest form of pluralism. Thus a pluralist ideology can
permeate all levels and sectors of a given society or only certain aspects of life within that
society. The official bilingual status in Louisiana and New Mexico – until they were granted
statehood – are examples of situations close to what can be defined as pluralistic ideologies of
language. Cobarrubias is also careful to point out that the 1968 Bilingual Act is not according
to him a step towards pluralism since the programmes that were included in the Act were
transitional and aimed for a shift to all-English education as the ultimate goal rather than
granting continued official language status. The third type of ideology taken up by
Cobarrubias is vernacularisation which involves the officialisation of a selected and restored
indigenous language. The fourth ideology, namely internationalisation is the selection of a
language of wider communication – a non-indigenous language – as the official language e.g.
in instruction and trade. English as a lingua franca is an example of such a language
(Cobarrubias 1983:63-66).
Ideologies of language planning exist in a social context and in reference to this Kaplan
and Baldauf (1997) present three questions that must be considered when dealing with
bilingualism and language status. They ask whether it is an issue "of 'languages in
competition' (Wardaugh 1988) …or language requiring territories (Laponce 1987…) or can
and do languages co-exist depending on their use, function, and status?" (Kaplan and Baldauf
1997:216). These factors are related to language contact and conflict situations and can serve
as a guide for language policy making. Phillipson (2003:67) shows Finland and Switzerland
as examples that indicate that linguistic and ethnic difference do not exclude peaceful
coexistence (Phillipson 2003:67). Furthermore, according to Phillipson, worldwide experience
has shown that it is possible to organise education to make competent bilingual or
multilingual speakers regardless of the status of the individual's mother tongue (Phillipson
An instrumental approach to language planning posits language as a means for efficient
communication. Identity and group solidarity functions of language are not dealt with and
language attitudes are perceived as changeable and adaptable to the proposals of language
planning through propaganda or use of political power and authority. In contrast, language
planning from the sociolinguistic approach emphasises language use and language attitudes
within the social and symbolic context. Thus, acceptability of language planning from this
view must take account of extra-linguistic factors, i.e. social, cultural and political aspects. In
other words, linguistic features are not considered as the sole determinant of language
attitudes (Deumert 2000:398-399).
The need to regard language policy making in a wider sphere is also presented in Spolsky's
three component model for policy making. Spolsky contextualises language policy placing it
in dialogue with extra-linguistic aspects, namely "social, political, economic, religious,
demographic, educational and cultural factors" (Spolsky 2004:ix). Within this perspective,
attempts to intervene in the language practices and beliefs of language users are affected for
instance, by economic and population changes since these may influence the values that
particular language varieties carry in the society (Spolsky 2004:186). This can be linked to the
need of complementarity as expressed in Grin's view, namely that the study of language
processes needs to include contributions from various disciplines in a relationship of
complementarity and that in the case of an economic perspective to language policy
qualitative non-market values need to be included in the quantitative economic analytical
framework of language issues (Grin 2003).
This view of language policy falls within an 'ecological approach' which entails studying
the relationship between a language and its environment. For Spolsky, language policy is seen
as functioning within a system of ecology comprising linguistic (the official and non-official
varieties of a language) and extra-linguistic elements (Spolsky 2004:6, 41, 218). Spolsky's
model consists of a three divisions ranging from the micro to the macro levels of language
namely language practices, language beliefs and language policies and planning. In this
model, all these elements need to be taken into account for a language policy and its
implementation to be successful (Spolsky 2004:39). Language practice refers to the choices
made by the individual – at varying degrees of conscious choice from the available
sociolinguistic repertoire, ranging from sound and word to chosen or appropriate language
variety or language, in the case of a multilingual community. In these terms, language practice
is linguistic behaviour, and therefore refers to what individuals do (Spolsky 2004:5-14, 217).
The beliefs and ideology prevalent in a speech community concerning language and its usage
are the choices of linguistic behaviour available to the individual, who needs to take account
of value judgments based on community norms (Spolsky 2004). Language beliefs and
ideology refer to what individuals believe should be done (Spolsky 2004:14). On a similar
note, Hornberger (2006:34) emphasises that language planning and policy studies are
enriched by the inclusion of critical perspectives and emphases on ideology, ecology and
agency. According to Spolsky, although a policy may exist, it is still uncertain whether it will
be implemented, and if so, whether implementation will be successful (Spolsky 2004:11). In
other words, success is dependent on the consistency between language management (other
authors use 'planning', 'engineering' or 'treatment' to refer to the same activity), language
practice and language beliefs as well as other factors that are specific to each place and time
(Spolsky 2004:222). A possible criticism of Spolsky's model is its emphasis on individual
choice and its implication towards an underlying liberal ideology even though he takes into
account norms and conventions restricting choice.
Spolsky identifies four conditions that were present in the various language policies he
studied. The first refers to the perceived sociolinguistic situation, i.e. the number and kinds of
languages and respective number of speakers, as well as the value attached to each language.
In some countries, the existence of marginalised language varieties may be ignored and may
lead to, for instance, a false perception of a community as monolingual. The second condition
refers to the national, ethnic, and other identities in a community. The symbolic value of what
is/are considered as being the national language(s) of a modern nation state is an important
factor in language management. The national language(s) is/are expected to be taught in
schools and used in public life. The third condition concerns globalisation processes and the
increased influence and prevalence of English in the sociolinguistic repertoire of individuals.
Proficiency in English, due to its status as a language of wider communication, is seen as
bringing economic advantages. Lastly, the fourth condition identified by Spolsky links
recognition of language choice and human civil rights. International covenants and
supranational organisations have emphasised the need to acknowledge and allow an
individual or group to use their own language. Favourable views of linguistic pluralism have
led some governments to recognise a limited set of rights depending on the fulfilment of
certain criteria: territorial – if a language has a significant number of speakers in a given
geographical space; demographic – indigenous groups are given advantage for recognition of
rights in comparison to immigrant groups or individuals with foreign worker status; and
functional limitation – a state's services are most likely to be provided in minority languages
whereas educational services in these language are least likely to be accepted as state
responsibility (Spolsky 2004:219-222). All of the conditions allow for language to be used as
a contributing factor to ethnolinguistic tension. In her study covering the language debates in
the US, Schmid (2001) refers to the role of extra-linguistic factors in her statement that the
official English movement uses language as a replacement for tensions arising from
demographic and cultural change – changes which have increased a feeling of insecurity
among Americans. The results showed that bilingualism is perceived as a threat to national
unity. She further states that the "controversy over official English and bilingualism is about
competing models of Americanism" which is a reference to the beliefs and ideologies that
exist in the society (Schmid 2001:4-10). Since different linguistic groups in a state have or are
perceived as having different status, resulting in hierarchies of power, the next section will
look into the differentiation of groups in a state from a language rights perspective.
4.2.1 Language rights
Discussions concerning language rights have tended towards two possibilities namely
linguistic convergence, in which assimilation and a single common language within a country
is regarded as the most desired method for obtaining national unity, social cohesion and
deliberative democracy. The other possibility is the presentation of models that strive towards
linguistic diversity and the preservation of languages that have a weaker position in the
particular society claiming that diversity is a public good – similar to the argument used for
the maintenance of ecological diversity – and that it is a right that belongs to speakers of
languages that are under threat (Patten and Kymlicka 2003:37).
At the supranational level, "The United Nations Charter adopted in 1945 proclaimed
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, equality and absence of discrimination.
The 1948 "Universal Declaration of Human Rights (article 2/1) included language as one of
the criteria that might not be used for discrimination" (Spolsky 2004:118). Phillipson further
describes the UN Declaration of 'universal' human rights as built on the values of
"representative democracy, the rule of law, and civil society that aims at creating freedom,
peace, human dignity, equality and social justice" (Phillipson 2003:55). Bearing in mind these
criteria, Skutnabb-Kangas, Phillipson and Rannut claim that linguistic rights/linguistic human
rights (LHRs) should be a part of basic human rights (Skutnabb-Kangas, Phillipson and
Rannut 1995:1-2). Varennes (2007:115-116, 124) states that linguistic rights can be derived
from individual human rights since these are based on the principles of non-discrimination
and freedom of expression. He further explains that since minority language speakers do not
have the same LHRs as majority language speakers, LHRs should in this view, be included in
international and national law.
For Skutnabb-Kangas, Phillipson and Rannut, LHRs at the individual level involves a
positive identification in the link between the individual and their mother tongue; the right to
learn the mother tongue, as well as basic education conducted in it. At the individual level,
LHRs also include the right to use a minority language in some official contexts and also to
learn the dominant language of the country of residence. At the collective level, LHRs
attribute the right for the existence of the minority group, for the development of the group's
language and establishment of education conducted in the minority language. It also includes
representation in political affairs, autonomy in culture, religion, education, among others, and
support of the same by means of financial grants. These rights are also connected to access to
a fair trial and maintenance of the group's cultural heritage (Skutnabb-Kangas, Phillipson and
Rannut 1995:1-2). Patten and Kymlicka state that the demand for universal language rights as
defined within the framework of LHRs, i.e. that it is applied to all individuals "regardless of
history, numbers, or nationhood – is precisely its weakness. The only sorts of rights that can
be defined in this universal way are minimal rights, primarily tolerance rights plus a few very
modest promotion or accommodation rights” e.g. the supply of court interpreters (Patten and
Kymlicka 2003:34-35). Examples of tolerance rights are those that allow linguistic minorities
to publish their own magazine, establish their own cultural organisations, create their own
schools and not be discriminated due to their mother tongue. These rights are in line with
"traditional individual rights" namely freedom of speech, press, association, and nondiscrimination. Promotion rights are for instance the right to have public-funded minority
language schools/radio/TV, to use the minority language with public officials, have legal
proceedings in the minority language, have access to government documents in the minority
language, or the right for the minority language to have official language status. 10 (Patten and
Kymlicka 2003:34-35).
The main focus of LHRs on public funded primary education of an individual's mother
tongue as a universal right does not attain the target of the right to use the minority language
in public administration, media and higher education which are placed as secondary – social
demands/requests/wishes which are voiced in many linguistic conflicts (Patten and Kymlicka
2003:35). The UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education in 1960 supported
the use of minority languages in separate educational programmes as long as they did not
constitute an obstacle to the learning of the culture and language of the larger community
(Spolsky 2004:118) thus favouring the state's existence over ethnolinguistic minorities that
may have been forcefully incorporated into the state and confirming its sovereignty.
Phillipson makes a distinction between the right for an individual to learn their mother
tongue and the official language of the country of residence from the right to learn a foreign
tongue. The latter is an enrichment right not a human right. In enrichment rights the mother
tongue in question is not at risk of dying (Phillipson 2003:155). However, enrichment rights
may be important for a multilingual society since learning a foreign language is considered to
reduce ethnocentricity and prejudice and increase tolerance towards other cultures (Phillipson
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights from 1966 states that in cases of
crime, individuals are entitled to have the charge made in a language that they understand.
Similarly a defendant is allowed to use an interpreter in a court case (Spolsky 2004:118). In
1994, the United Nations Human Rights committee reinterpreted article 27 from the covenant
of 1966 to include immigrants and refugees in the originally stated protection of minority
groups recognised by a state directing that ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities should
be allowed to express and practice their culture and religion as well as use their language
(Spolsky 2004:120-121). The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989
dealt with the linguistic needs of the Child who belongs to a minority group or is
indigenous. In 1990, the United Nations adopted an International Convention on the
Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families that
included language rights. In 1992, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
A more comprehensive differentiation of the rights, namely tolerance- vs. promotion-oriented rights, normand-accommodation vs. official-language rights regimes; personality vs. territoriality rights regimes; and
individual vs. collective rights as described by Patten and Kymlicka (2003) is given below in this section.
adopted a Declaration on the Rights of Persons belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious
and Linguistic Minorities , which included "whenever possible" state measures to enable
minorities to learn or have instruction in their mother tongue (Spolsky 2004:119).
According to Johnson, the idea of policies benefiting all individuals from the perspective
of justice is an unrealistic practice. As support for his claim, he refers to the application of
Affirmative Action for "racial preferences" supported by law in the US, which led to only
benefitting a portion of the targeted group i.e. well-off blacks and Hispanics, but at the same
time, the measure disadvantaged all the poor in the country (Johnson 1997:803). Thus
government measures need to be more specific about which groups are targeted rather than
focusing on ethnic and racial differences since these, as all other social categories, are not
homogeneous. Similarly, Phillipson (2003:87) states that in the case of the US, a laissez faire
policy towards language affects social justice since there are differing levels of proficiency in
English among members of a society. In this way, a policy directed to all may increase
Lagerspetz argues that an instrumental consideration of the role of language in the life of
an individual justifies the establishment of language rights. The view is based on individual
rights associated with the autonomy and well-being of individual members of a particular
group, in line with the liberal argument, and is thus not an argument for a group rights policy
based on the notion of 'cultural conservation'. Furthermore, according to Lagerspetz, the state
must be involved in a distributive function since language is necessary for running public
services. Therefore, a common language is considered to be necessary for citizen participation
in a democracy, and since choosing an official language is always a distributive act, it cannot
be left to the market (Lagerspetz 1998). This argument might be criticised for allowing room
for interpretation of measures to oppress ethnocultural expressions based on an instrumental
approach that permits the claim by the state of knowing "what is best for the individual".
From their survey, Patten and Kymlicka (2003:26) refer to four ways for organising
language policy and language rights options: tolerance- vs. promotion-oriented rights (first
introduced by Kloss in 1971 and most used when dealing with language rights literature);
norm-and-accommodation vs. official-languages rights regimes; personality vs. territoriality
rights regimes; and individual vs. collective rights.
Tolerance rights guarantee individuals the right to make language choices in their private
sphere without interference from the government. Promotion-oriented rights refer to the
language used by public institutions. This category of rights was presented by Kloss
(1971:259; also cited in Patten and Kymlicka 2003) in which he distinguished between
'immigrant' language groups which should only be granted tolerance rights, and language
groups that have historical roots in the state and have kept the use of their language. Thus,
'national' groups should be granted both tolerance and promotion rights (Kloss as cited in
Patten and Kymlicka 2003:26-27). Although Kloss proposes that immigrants do not have the
right to demand promotion rights since these are paid by public funds, he does put forward the
idea that immigrant groups may be granted promotion-oriented rights if they prove that they
can keep the language alive among the third generation, i.e. "only after the language can be
held to have taken root" (Kloss 1971:260-261). Criticism of Kloss' differentiating of groups
could be argued from the point of view that immigrant groups, would mostly be granted
tolerance rights in the US, since studies have indicated that by the third generation language
shift is a common phenomenon. Also it could be said that the absence of promotion-oriented
rights directed to large immigrant minority groups in effect reproduces the dominant position
of English. Patten and Kymlicka (2003) state that since it is impossible for promotional rights
to be granted to all language groups, an alternative would be for rights to be granted based on
achievement of certain factors by the language groups regardless of whether they are 'national'
or 'immigrant' linguistic groups such as the attainment of a minimum number of speakers, the
number of speakers in relation to the concentration in territory, and the possibility of the
language being used in international communication (Patten and Kymlicka 2003:26-27). This
is a more flexible view on tolerance and promotion rights since it allows room for social
change based on factors that are external to the individual's capability of generational
language maintenance.
Norm-and-accommodation rights and Official-languages right refers to language rights in
public institutions. The former approach is the use of one language in public communication
and special arrangements for the use of other languages for the individuals lacking proficiency
in the language of public communication. The latter approach of Official-languages rights
involves granting 'official' status to one or more languages and a consequent relationship of
equality between the languages (Patten and Kymlicka 2003:26-27).
The category of Personality versus Territoriality Rights Regimes is usually used in relation
to official language rights but can be applied to the norm-and-accommodation approach.
Personality rights give citizens the same (official) language rights in all parts of the country.
Territoriality rights entails that the individual's language rights vary according to the region in
a given country, thus dividing the country into linguistic regions. The Territoriality Rights
strategy is problematic since it builds on an assumption that individuals are bound to a
physical geographical area (Patten and Kymlicka 2003:29). It is interesting to note that the
change of social interaction from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft and the effects of
globalisation are proof of a certain reduction in the significance of the local to the individual
and therefore decreases the value of granting territorial rights. It is also possible to state that if
one extends this line of thinking to include Anderson's (1991) notion of 'imagined
communities' then it is possible to claim that discussions about official language status in
states are part of a Gemeinschaft idea of one language and territory as coterminous.
Of the three different ways and ideologies in which language policies and rights can be
organised, only one deals explicitly with the private sphere, namely tolerance rights.
Patten and Kymlicka indicate yet another way of organising language policies and rights
in a country, namely to make a choice between individual and collective rights. It is in the
latter category that one can refer to group-differentiated rights which come into effect only
when a certain level of demand has been reached e.g. that is a minimum number of certain
language speakers, whereas individual rights are applicable regardless of that number (Patten
and Kymlicka 2003:30). An example in the US is the requirement under the Voting Rights
Act (Titles II and III), as described by Schmidt, in which if a group speaking another language
made up at least 5 per cent of the voters in the electoral district then the election material such
as ballots, registration forms should be printed in that language (Schmidt 2000:20-21).
Kymlicka defends the notion of group-differentiated rights within a liberal framework (in
the US special status is accorded to American Indians and Puerto Ricans), such as selfgovernment rights and polyethnic rights, by presenting three arguments for group specific
rights: firstly, the guarantee of equality; secondly, respect of historical agreements – of which
many have been ignored or cancelled; and thirdly, intercultural and intracultural diversity.
Diversity is seen as valuable since it offers new perspectives. He further adds special
representation rights – the right to participate in decision making activities at state level, e.g.
through demands for reservation of seats in the legislature for groups that are marginalised or
disadvantaged – as part of group-differentiated rights alongside self-government and
polyethnic rights (Kymlicka 1995:26-33, 108-123).
Self-government rights refer to the demand by minorities for "political autonomy or
territorial jurisdiction, so as to ensure the full and free development of their cultures and the
best interests of their people. At the extreme, nations may wish to secede, if they think their
self-determination is impossible within the larger state" (Kymlicka 1995:27). Polyethnic
rights are of particular interest to this study since they are the rights demanded by immigrant
groups for visibly expressing their culture without suffering the consequences of prejudice or
discrimination. Some demands have included public funding for practicing their culture
within the frame for the state's support of the arts, museums, etc. Self-government rights and
polyethnic rights are not seen as temporary rights (Kymlicka 1995:30-32).
Also, Kymlicka claims that there is no conflict between group rights and individualism (as
cited in Appiah 2005:122). Kymlicka's view is that individualism benefits from security of
group membership and that it is possible to strike a balance between ensuring external rights
(the rights of a group in relation to the state and the right to apply for grants), and limiting the
internal restrictions that the group may impose on the individual's autonomy. For Kymlicka,
the defence of minority rights within the liberal view is based on two claims, namely "that
individual freedom is tied in some important way to membership in one's national group; and
that group-specific rights can promote equality between the minority and majority" (Kymlicka
1995: 52). Appiah criticises this balance by suggesting that in any case a group may limit the
education of its members solely to the language of the minority (Appiah 2005:79-81).
Kymlicka (1995) states, however, that group rights can only be attributed with the condition
that individual rights are not violated.
For Kymlicka human rights principles need to be complemented with the theory of
minority rights since the protection of cultural minorities through traditional human rights
doctrines have left them vulnerable to injustice by the majority and open to ethnocultural
conflict (Kymlicka 1995:5). In this way, justice in a multicultural state needs to include
universal rights that are directed to individuals regardless of their group membership
alongside group-differentiated rights or 'special status' for minority cultures. However, the
protection by minority rights is conditional to the fact that the groups abide by the principles
of liberty of the individual, that the groups are democratic, and that they follow the liberal
notions of social justice (Kymlicka 1995:6). According to Kymlicka allocation of collective
rights to minority groups does not need to conflict with individual liberty and must exist
within the liberal theory (Kymlicka 1995:7). In a study carried out by Coulombe, language
rights in the US are not viewed as group rights but rather as linked to "other more
fundamental rights such as religion, due process, educational equity – or they are seen as
rights possessed by individual adults..." (Coulombe as cited in Schiffman 1996:246).
The problem of essentialism has been brought forward by critics of language rights
claiming that the arguments used by proponents of language ecology and linguistic human
rights essentialises and fixes minority speakers at a particular historical point and of viewing
language and ethnic identity as unavoidably linked. Another critique of language rights is the
problem of social mobility. Critics consider that the argument for minority language rights
may damage or limit the individual's prospects and possibilities for social mobility. Critics of
minority language rights see majority languages as offering the most instrumental value to the
speaker (May 2005). In defence of minority language rights, May (2005) considers that the
view of language as a tool leads to an either/or situation, that is, a separation of language as
instrumental or as an identity marker. For May, all languages include both identity and
instrumentality functions for the speaker. However, he also points out that the difference
between languages is the degree to which these functions are forwarded – an aspect that
depends on social and political conditions (May 2005). May (2005) uses the term 'mutual
accommodation' to refer to the situation in which there is "the possibility of public
bilingualism or multilingualism" as a result of the majority language speakers accommodating
minority languages in public communication. However, Grin also adds that the cost of
language policies for multilingualism are mainly unknown but high estimates have been
calculated (Grin 2006:88). Nevertheless, minority language rights are seen by May as offering
a pluralistic alternative defending the idea that linguistic identities need not be dichotomised
and can instead co-exist in "linguistic complementarity" (May 2005), therefore allowing
contextual or situational identities. In contrast, Spolsky states that the "implementation of
collective language rights often conflicts with individual linguistic rights: the preservation of
the language often entails forcing individuals to learn or use it" (Spolsky 2004:130) which in
the case of individuals with membership in minority groups would mean a reduction of choice
and/or having to learn at least two languages.
Studying the debate regarding bilingual education and language rights in the United States,
Cummins concludes that 'disinformation' 11 can be seen in the argument that bilingual
education (which Cummins rephrases as minority empowerment) constitutes an "internal
threat". 'Disinformation' is a strategy used, Cummins claims, to manipulate domestic
acceptance of the interests of the dominant group. Thus, many of the opponents of the
bilingual educational programmes focus on the threat that these programmes pose to the
existing social structure expressed in terms of the "American way of life" and entailing a
threat to national unity. Nevertheless, since according to the US Constitution, all students
have the right to equal opportunity in education, the debate of bilingualism and English-only
educational programmes includes views of whether these programmes are in accordance with
the equal educational opportunity goals under federal law. Cummins further claims that US
international trade and national security can be negatively affected by the emphasis of
monolingual education and language shift (Cummins 1995:159-163, 175).
a term used in international politics to refer to the "systematic spreading of false information in order to
confuse and disorient the opposition" (Cummins 1995:159)
From a historical perspective, racial desegregation in the United States was based on the
removal of the system of segregated education for black and white children in the South.
Along with the civil rights movement this decision was significant in supporting views of
racial equality in United States. Thus the adopted model for racial justice was 'colour-blind
laws' which were applied to counteract racism against blacks and national minority groups
(Kymlicka 1995:58, 60). The initial demands for recognition and expression in the 1960s of
blacks led to awareness by ethnic groups in the country of their own status in the US. During
the ethnic revival of the 1960s and 1970s, some immigrant groups that seemed to have
previously accepted the view of themselves as ethnic groups rather than national minorities as
forming a country built by polyethnic immigration, now demanded the right to 'selfdetermination', which included the recognition by the state of their mother tongue and support
for the separate ethnic institutions. The language used by these groups when referring to their
social positioning also changed and integration began to be referred to as a synonym of
oppression (Kymlicka 1995:62; Kymlicka 1997:239). Anxiety over a possible fragmentation
of the United States led to views that immigrants have a right and an obligation to integrate
into the Anglo-adoption model of immigration. The demands made by immigrants during the
ethnic revival were counter-argued as being illegitimate, since immigrants had arrived in the
country voluntarily and that – as argued for instance by Walzer – the demand for selfdetermination was groundless as was the rejection of English as the public language.
Kymlicka supports this attitude in the view that a difference should be made between
immigrants and national minorities and that although voluntary immigrants have certain
polyethnic rights they have no claim to national self-government. Kymlicka nevertheless still
argues for group-differentiated rights (Kymlicka 1995:7, 61-64; Kymlicka 1997:246).
The complexity of the situation regarding linguistic rights is related to the problem of
conflict between the individual's right to their own language and the demand for the state to
adopt or fund minority languages (Spolsky 2004:120). In the United States, access to
government services by individuals that do not speak English is based on the notion of
individual civil rights (Spolsky 2004:122) rather than a group right. The question then arises
whether the US should consider granting group-differentiated rights to immigrant populations
that exceed a certain number – this can be related to Kloss' (1971:259) proposal that
promotion-oriented rights should only be attributed to immigrant groups that show that their
language has taken root in the country, namely by the third generation. A point in question is
what effect does this have for integration? Another factor related to group rights is the
possibility of the US using its in-born multilingual resources as a comparative advantage
(bearing in mind that funds need to be allocated to foreign language learning schemes and
therefore a matter of distribution of limited resources). Furthermore, in the case of the US,
territoriality rights, e.g. the granting of rights to Hispanics in the southern states may create
hostility to federal legislation in those same states by the dominant English speakers.
Language rights are linked to the possibility that minority individuals are allowed to use
the language they identify themselves with in a particular society. The status of that language
may determine the inclusion and advancement of the language speaker in that society.
Minority group members may feel that their language has low status and therefore may decide
to abandon their mother tongue or segregate from the dominant society. Widespread and longlasting segregation, however, may lead to attitudes of intolerance by the majority and cause
estrangement between groups. Since this is linked to the idea of the security of a state based
on social cohesion, the next section will look at studies where issues of security are connected
to language policies.
4.2.2 Language policy and security
The study of language planning and policy is related to the "study of social forces that
influence language change, and the kinds of change motivated by social forces" (Kaplan and
Baldauf 1997:x). Due to its positioning in real world problems the study of language planning
and policy should include interdisciplinary perspectives. The terms 'planning' and 'policy'
have often been used interchangeably but according to Kaplan and Baldauf (1997:xi)
language planning
is an activity, most visibly undertaken by government (simply because it involves massive
changes in a society), intended to promote systematic change in some community of
speakers.... A language policy is a body of ideas, laws regulations, rules and practices
intended to achieve the planned language change in the society, group or system (Kaplan
and Baldauf 1997:xi).
Ager also distinguishes between language planning and language policy. For him, the
former refers to unofficial influence on language issues i.e. the conscious attempt by
organised communities to affect the language behaviour of individuals in their daily lives and
the languages used in institutions, the latter refers to the actions of authorities that carry
official influence (Ager 2001:5-7). According to Cooper, language planning refers to the
"deliberate efforts to influence the behaviour of others with respect to the acquisition structure
or functional allocation of their language codes" (Cooper 1989:45). This definition allows for
several actors to be involved as planners including those outside authoritative institutions
(Cooper 1989:45). Further, Cooper presents language planning as "what actors attempted to
influence what behaviours, of which people, for what ends, by what means, and with what
results.... under what conditions and through what policy making process" (Cooper 1989:97).
These definitions can be related to the ubiquitous function of language and the various
interdisciplinary research claims connecting language policy making with extra-linguistic
factors. Deumert claims that language planning occurs often within or for the attainment of
extra-linguistic objectives e.g. socio-economic or national integration goals (Deumert
2000:400). It is difficult to draw a line regarding policy and planning since the former is, as
Kaplan and Baldauf (1997) state, a set of rules for intervention of language behaviour, and the
latter, i.e. planning refers to an intention and subsequent preparations for the rules to be
established in the society. However, it is the view of the present author that power relations
should be given more prominence in language policy making and planning definitions – some
writings already include this aspect e.g in Tollefson's (1991:20) approach to language
intervention as always including an aspect of power and the interpretation of language
policies in relation to struggles of power, and in Cooper's (1989) question regarding which
actors are involved in attempting to affect speech behaviour. Assymmetrical power relations
allow one group of people to assert their will on another group and therefore affect their daily
Various parts of a society are affected by language policy, whether at a national, regional
or community level. Thus, language policies affect many aspects of an individual's daily life
since they are implemented in institutions representing the government as well as some
private organisations. The language(s)/language variety(ies) used in institutions, such as
hospitals, public signs, courts, churches, businesses, and the educational system (Spolsky
2004:2), and even the mass media, are related to issues of human rights from the perspective
of the right to be understood correctly and to understand correctly. This right is already taken
up in practical terms in some countries e.g. by supplying an interpreter for court hearings or
hospital visits. It is the extent to which language is integrated in the daily lives of people that
issues related to intervention regarding the linguistic behaviour of an individual in a given
society are significant to the collective and individual securities from a majority and a
minority perspective. In view of the possibility of intervening on language behaviour,
Schiffman states that language policy is a cultural construct that needs to coincide with the
values and the linguistic culture of a language group or its success will be compromised
(Schiffman 1996:59).
In the United States, language policy is carried out at the state and local levels. The
different actors involved in policy making means that many of the policies come into conflict
with rules, policies or regulations that already have been issued at the federal, state or local
levels (Shiffman 1996:3-4, 217). The United States does not have an overt language policy for
English but the "fact that English is not legally protected, guaranteed, promoted etc. does not
mean automatically that some other language might be able to mount a strong challenge to
it…" (Schiffman 1996:14-15).
Since this study deals with immigration, which entails changes in the composition of the
population in the United States, it is appropriate at his stage to refer to Cooper's (19899:164)
statement to the effect that "social change accompanies language planning is scarcely
surprising, in as much as language planning, concerned with the management of change, is
itself an instance of social change" (Cooper 1989:164).
Language as an important element for security can be seen in the measures taken by the
European Union through the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
whose primary concern is conflict prevention. The organisation focuses on the protection of
rights (including linguistic rights) of national minorities for a "comprehensive security" in
which military, political, environmental, economical and human rights issues are seen to
interrelate (Holt and Packer 2001:99). The organisation attempts to find resolutions before
outbreaks of conflict based on ethnic tensions occur. The OSCE puts forward
recommendations regarding language tests, the rights of noncitizens, as well as those included
in the Hague recommendations of 1996 proclaiming the rights of national minorities for
language education, the Oslo recommendations of 1998 for the linguistic rights of national
minorities in organisations and businesses, and the Lund recommendations for national
minorities to be able to participate effectively in public life (Spolsky 2004:125-126) e.g. in the
electoral process (OSCE/ODIHR 2001). The focus on language by the organisation is based
on the decision of the first High Commissioner of the OSCE who argued that it was important
to implement language rights to reduce the risk of conflict since often minority status was
linked to language. It is worth noting that the language rights that are included in international
treaties and conventions deal with the protection of the rights of citizens regarding language
use but do not however prevent activities by the states towards language shift by minorities
for the protection of sovereignty (Spolsky 2004:127-128). The next section will deal
specifically with Ager's (2001) study of insecurity in relation to language policy making.
4.2.3 Insecurity as a motive for language policy making
Ager's study of motivation for intervention on language behaviour concluded that policy
makers need to view identity as a dynamic construction, based on a constant evaluation of an
entity's – individual or state – identity in relation to its environment, as well as the willingness
of actors to act in accordance with expectations of 'significant others'. Therefore, although the
attitude of an individual, community or state towards a particular action may be positive or
negative, or viewed as most appropriate or inappropriate, individual actors or groups will have
a greater probability to perform the given action if others that are important to the entity
believe that they should carry it out (Ager 2001:142, 198). Thus, Ager concludes that the
attitudes of actors do not necessarily predict their actions (Ager 2001:198).
Ager presents twelve motives for decisions on language based on a sequence of stages,
namely identity (personal and social), ideology, image, insecurity, maintenance and defence
of identity, maintenance and correction of inequality, integration and instrumentality, and
despair. Although the main focus of this thesis is on the motive of insecurity, an overview of
the other motives follows in order to allow the contextualisation of the motive of insecurity in
Ager's study. Therefore, firstly, the entity constructs a personal and social identity using
beliefs and values from the social world. Thus the construction of identity is based on a
dialogue with the environment, which also entails its dynamic nature. In his study of the
definition of identity of collectives, Ager analyses the expression of nationalism in several
countries and concludes that cultural, economic and political factors are interrelated in the
definition of an entity's identity (Ager 2001:37-39, 136-138). The total world view or
ideology of the entity as a distinct identity affects its language behaviour, which itself is based
on values and beliefs of status and difference (Ager 2001:52-55, 136-138).
The entity then constructs an ideal image to project to the external world. Individuals and
collectives aim to project a favourable image which is based on a perceived worth of the
entity rather than a real or actual worth. In the case of policy makers this action would
translate into attempting to create a positive perception of their language through spreading
knowledge of the language and the culture of the country (Ager 2001:75, 136-138). Debates
surrounding the spread of English, e.g. English as an international language and ideas of
linguistic imperialism, can be seen as related to the image a state projects.
The identity is then evaluated in relation to the environment. In the case of states, this
would entail assessing language behaviour and seeing what may need intervention. At the
individual level this may relate to an evaluation of the possible life goals and linguistic ability
of the individual for achieving those goals. It is at this stage of evaluation that language policy
making may become motivated by insecurity (Ager 2001:136-138; cf. section 4.1.1 for
Buzan's framework of security as a motive for behaviour and section 4.1.2 for Waever's
concept of societal security). Language groups may experience insecurity if another language
group suddenly increases in size e.g. through migration. Due to the centrality of this motive
for this study, a more detailed description of Ager's positioning of the insecurity motive
If insecurity is felt, action may be motivated with the goal of defending and maintaining
identity. Action may also be taken towards correcting or maintaining an unequal situation
(Ager 2001:136-138). Actions to correct inequality may be taken by authorities as part of a
political ideology, but mostly it is linked to groups that experience injustice, have little power
and perceive themselves as excluded from the mainstream society. The action to correct
inequality may also be taken by people and groups that are not themselves disadvantaged but
are guided by humanitarian and altruistic feelings or because they themselves may have once
belonged to a disadvantaged group (Ager 2001:88). Government action to change
employment practices and advertising that negatively affect certain social groups is an
example of correction of inequality through distribution of limited resources. Further actions
are the ratification of international covenants to protect language or human rights particularly
those of minority groups. Actions for correcting injustice are not seen as being limited to the
goal of correcting inequality but include aspects of recognition, state cohesion and economics.
A case in point are the motives for the Australian National Languages Policy of 1987 that
adopted the following four principles: English and one more language to be available to all,
support for minority aboriginal and Torres Strait Island languages and availability of language
services. The reasons for this type of language intervention in Australia may be due to an
acknowledgement and acceptance of immigrant communities, the creation of unity by
guaranteeing the role of English in giving access to power, as well as economic reasons
bearing in mind Australia's geographical location (Ager 2001:87-105). In contrast to Ager's
notion of language management for the purpose of correcting injustice, Tollefson and
Fairclough see any form of language planning as a form of domination (Ager 2001:105). The
present author partly agrees with this view from the perspective that if one takes account that
there are certain groups that hold a position in a given society that enables them to make
decisions that affect others, then any form of planning that impacts on the lives of others will
be a form of exercising power. It can be argued that avoidance of domination is difficult but it
can be diminished by seeking agreement of those on whom the measures impact.
According to Ager's model, further actions triggered by insecurity are motives of
integration and instrumentality. The former is primarily a social motive and the latter is
essentially based on economic reasons. Ager claims that these two motives – integration and
instrumentality – are related in the sense that what may initially be an instrumental motive e.g.
migration due to financial improvement or career advancement may lead to the integrative
motive based on a willingness to better acquaint with the host community. In the same way,
integration may stimulate an improvement of proficiency in the dominant language as a tool
for communication with 'significant others'. The dialogue between these two motives is based
on the individual's continuous assessment of themselves in relation to their environment (Ager
However, Ager also states that initial insecurity may result in inaction leading to despair
caused by an acknowledgement by the group or its members of discrimination and the almost
definite impossibility of maintaining their own minority language. This feeling may
ultimately result in language shift or language loss (Ager 2001:136-138). Although despair
may be linked to instrumentality due to the acknowledgement by a minority community that
their chances will be improved if they take on a new language, Ager believes that the loss of a
community language and the process that it entails demands its own title of despair (Ager
In sum, evaluation of the organism in relation to its environment is constant and leads to
action based on perceptions of insecurity. Ager further concludes that although all the motives
may be mixed and of importance to actors at all levels, decisions based on instrumentality and
individual objectives, such as career and social advantages, are mainly significant to
individuals whereas communities are more likely to have motives of insecurity leading to
actions that maintain identity. In this context, the state is also concerned with defending
identity and projecting a positive image abroad. In contrast, powerless communities within
states are more concerned with inequality (Ager 2001:197), instrumentality related to the
limited functionality of their language in the domains in the society, insecurity linked to the
value of the language, defence of identity, and integrative measures mainly derived from
despair (Ager 2001:158-193). The insecurity of identity by dominant language speakers
cannot be separated from the reasons of insecurity of minority speakers with which they are in
contact. For relevance in this study is the idea that the behaviour of one group will cause a
reaction in another group. If the majority imposes official English, it is possible that this
measure may lead to feelings of despair among minority groups. If official English is not
implemented, members of the majority may express concerns regarding loss of national
The various actors in a society are seen as having different types of goals (Ager 2001).
Three goals can be identified for individuals. At one extreme is the decision that the
individual takes to maintain their own language or variety and works towards improving their
ability in this language. An individual may even retain their language even though in normal
circumstances their language or variety would not be used in the situation. The opposite
extreme is the adoption of a new language or variety in all situations by the individual. This
may be due to the other language or variety having a higher status so that the individual
regards the shift as advantageous e.g. for reasons of professional mobility or personal
circumstances as in marriage and the resulting need to communicate with their partner's
relatives. Reasons may also be due to solidarity with the target community, even in cases of
non-status languages or varieties. In the mid-point between these two extremes are various
strategies individuals can apply. In most cases, the individual adopts a language repertoire that
allows them to switch between the different languages or varieties depending on the situation
(Ager 2001:146-147).
As regards collectives, actions taken by minority groups may influence or are the result of
actions taken by powerful groups. According to Ager, powerless groups are more likely to
have goals of conflict, cooperation and compromise. The conflict goal is related to the overt
or covert maintenance of their own identity. Overt political action by powerless groups can
lead to open conflict with the dominant group. The cooperation goal is the mid-point between
the extremes of conflict and compromise. In this goal, the communities maintain their
distinctiveness but are not in conflict with the dominant group. Political objectives may relate
to territorial control, political recognition of difference or an attainment of equal advantages
similar to other communities within the state in the political, economic and social arenas. It is
possible to claim that in the United States there is a degree of recognition of identity by the
state expressed in the use of labels such as 'Asians' or 'Afro-Caribbeans' (Ager 2001:160-161)
although this can be interpreted as a sign of division through labelling. Ager also states that
linguistic objectives by powerless communities may include maintenance of minority
language education often as a reaction to pressure towards assimilation by powerful groups.
The compromise goal implies the extreme action of integrating or assimilating often in the
direction of the more powerful, host community. Early migrants in the beginning of the
twentieth century in the US often joined and accepted a shared identity thus losing their
individual group distinctiveness and in this way also avoiding possible conflict (Ager
Powerful actors, e.g. states, will identify goals at the internal and external level, in which
the former relates to social cohesion, elitism or social mosaicity, and the latter is based on
conflict or competition (Ager 2001:195). Since the focus of this thesis is on intrastate relations
between groups, a more detailed view of the internal level will follow. According to Ager
(2001), a social cohesion goal is based on notions of stability, unity and avoidance of
territorial fragmentation. Two extremes on obtainment of cohesion are, on the one hand, the
objectives of one language and the declaration of an official language as a means of defending
the language from danger, perceived or real, from other languages. Also the state may work
towards eliminating diversity within its borders. Another goal, elitism, is related to acquisition
or maintenance of power and often ignoring social diversity. No legislation is passed, and
citizens have complete freedom to choose what language to use, but all state affairs are
performed in a specific language. The aim is the efficient running of the state rather than
concern over social cohesion. In the mid-point between these extremes, is a plural state based
on the goal of social mosaicity and constituting a harmonious multicultural or multilingual
state. The state is often trying to balance out fragmentation tendencies and attempts to
establish an ideal of harmony between the groups although this is seldom achieved in reality.
It is worth noting that the opposing ideal of maintaining inequality and social division is
rarely stated overtly (Ager 2001:177-178).
Ager describes insecurity as "an emotion, not a rational construct. If outsiders
misunderstand, fail to see the point, regard the emotion as misguided, insecurity is if anything
increased" (Ager 2001:85). This aspect as described by Ager can be related to the concept of
'security dilemma' (see section 4.1). For Ager, language policy motivated by fear and
insecurity is founded on an external threat that triggers a response and also depends on the
threatened community's own awareness of their situation and identity (Ager 2001:85). Also
the threat must be identifiable, and may be political (potential domination of the
community), economic (potential loss of income for members of the community), or
communicative (lack of an effective affective link between members of the community,
coupled with lack of adequate mean (sic) of expression for some domains and particularly
for public ones). The ability to meet the threat requires the existence of both a way of
identifying the threat and a potential answer, as well as a mechanism for implementing
this (Ager 2001:85).
Insecurity may be caused by "fear of the unknown" and doubts cast on the actual/real
existence of social cohesion (Ager 2001:77). In this scenario, language is used as an
expression of identity symbolising and separating the included from the excluded.
Furthermore, the retention of identity by a minority may be seen as posing a threat to the
dominant society. The Gypsy community is an example of a community that may be
perceived as a threat to the identity of the state due to their own strong sense of distinction
marked by a different way of life, distinct culture, language and beliefs. In this way, insecurity
can be described as based on fear of the Other (Ager 2001:83, 139). Protection of small or
large changes to identity are based on fear of outside influence or domination in the political,
cultural, religious and social spheres, loss of territory, and particularly the fear of losing the
distinctiveness or the specific identifying characteristic of the society, or rather, to lose what
is considered symbolic of the collective identity (Ager 2001:84, Ager 1999:x). In Ager's study
of identity in France, it was shown that the French language is regarded as a symbol of the
Republic of France and therefore the language that is necessary for all the language groups
included in the Republic. Paradoxically, the diversity of these individual collectives is also
perceived as a threat to the unity of the country (Ager 1999:11).
Most threats are not seen as originating from linguistic threats but are dependent on extralinguistic factors (Ager 2001:86) and are often expressed if there is contact between linguistic
groups. The expressed attitudes are a consequence of the individual's interaction in the society
and their exposure to the dominant (and even minority) values and beliefs in the given
society. Social change e.g. due to immigration can contribute to triggering new or dormant
beliefs. The next section looks at language attitudes since as Baker states (1992:9) they have
an important role in the maintenance, revival, decay or death of a given language. Specifically
for this study it is the aspect of attitudes to language maintenance and language shift by
immigrants that are of concern.
4.3 Language attitudes
The present study of discourse in the public debate in four American newspapers is adopting
the definition of attitude provided by Ajzen, namely that an attitude is "a disposition to
respond favourably or unfavourably to an object, person, institution or event" (Ajzen 2005:3).
Language attitude studies serve to explain attitudes which are accessed through external
behaviour (Baker 1992:11). The measurement of language attitudes, both at the individual or
group/community level is often used to obtain information regarding the status, value and
importance given to (a) language (Baker 1992:10). The measurement of attitudes and
language consciousness shows some of the effects of language contact. However, certain
measurement strategies may not have high validity. For instance, language statistics, as in
census and public opinion surveys, may not be accurate since a multilingual person's
linguistic identity is affected by factors such as language loyalty and prestige (Nelde
1997:288) and may vary on the occasions and contexts in which the measurement is taken.
Surveys of attitudes indicate the current or changing beliefs or preferences in a
community. Censuses can measure attitudes regarding the position of a language in a country
e.g. in the case of Spanish as a minority language and as a second language in the US (Baker
1992:9, 22-23). According to Baker, a way of indirectly measuring attitudes to language
varieties is through matched-guise techniques (Baker 1992:22-23). Baker mentions language
varieties but attitudes to specific languages can also be included in his description. Matchedguise techniques are experiments to obtain judgments made on spoken language. Romaine
describes the test as consisting in a speaker's evaluation of other speakers through their
language use referencing perceptions of friendliness, educational level, among others.
Questionnaires have also been used to study language attitudes. One of the advantages with
this form is large participation and therefore greater material representation. It is also easier to
compare results than for instance in open-ended questions. The disadvantages are the lack of
control of who answers the questions, misunderstandings on behalf of the respondents as
regards the questions, and also, informants may choose answers that they believe are "helpful"
or "appropriate". Furthermore, the formulation of questions in the survey may add to the
discrepancy between attitudes and behaviour. Attitudes are difficult to establish from question
and answer techniques, even in controlled experiments, since the process involves the
interpretation of a subjective domain in objective terms. This problem is common to studies
involving social categories and judgments based on perceptions (Romaine 1995:289, 302,
318). Furthermore, attitudes do not have a strong influence on behaviour (Ager 2001:141).
The concept of 'attitude' is complex and there is a discrepancy between people’s claims
about what they do and their actual behaviour (Romaine 1995:319). Furthermore, following
Baker's studies of the decrease of positive attitude with increasing age towards the Welsh
language, Romaine describes attitudes as dynamic and liable to change (Romaine 1995:314315, 319). Results have shown that linguistic affiliation and status connected to a language in
a society, colour judgements. Both the members of a dominant group and of a minority group
often regard speakers of dominant languages favourably. Stigmatisation of a language is often
related to the status of its speakers. The specific language thus acquires the same status as the
social identity of its speakers, whether stigmatised or not. The difference of power between
groups is reflected in language variations, as well as in attitudes towards this variation. In this
way, language attitude studies can supply information regarding inter-group relations
(Romaine 1995:289-290).
Also significant is that minority groups may attribute 'covert prestige' to their variety,
although it is stigmatised by the dominant speakers (Romaine 1995:294), allowing for
informal use of their language in certain areas of the public space, semi-public space and
private space. Romaine further claims that one of the reasons stigmatised varieties survive
within minority communities is because they function as markers of group identity (Romaine
Furthermore, Baker (2006) refers to the sociolinguistic key terms, instrumental and
integrative orientation, in attitudes to language in which the former
reflects pragmatic, utilitarian motives. An instrumental attitude to a language is mostly
self-oriented and individualistic. Instrumental attitudes to learning a second language or
preserving a minority language might be, for example, for vocational reasons, status,
achievement, personal success, self enhancement, self-actualisation, or basic security and
survival.... An integrative attitude to a language, on the other hand, is mostly social and
interpersonal in orientation and represents a desire to be like representative members of
the other language community. Thus an integrative attitude to a particular language may
concern attachment to, or identification with, a language group and its cultural activities
(Baker 2006:214-215).
An example of the instrumental approach is for instance the aim to learn a language in
order to get a good job. On the other hand, an example of an integrative attitude is the aim of
learning a language in order to speak with people in that language (Baker 2006:214-215) and
create a feeling of belonging. These descriptions can be related to Ager's view of integration
and instrumentality as motives for language planning and policy in which he concludes that
an initial instrumental language acquisition may lead to a will for integration which in turn
serves as a stimulation for improving knowledge in the language (Ager 2001:108, 115, 124).
The present author's reading of Baker's (2006) reference to instrumental and integrative
attitudes, as well as Ager's (2001:124) view of language behaviour as planned, is that an
underlying liberal idea seems to exist, namely that individuals and communities are capable of
making rational choices – those that favour them best, including those choices related to
language (similar to Spolsky's emphasis on choice as mentioned in section 4.2). This choicebased approach may be questioned since the language/language variety an individual is born
into is not based on choice but nevertheless has significant influence on the decisions an
individual makes regarding language and his/her life chances.
To study the attitudes expressed in the newspapers in the US regarding the role/position of
English, this study will use Fairclough's three-dimensional discourse framework. The choice
of using Fairclough's critical discourse analysis perspective is based on Hyrkstedt and Kalaja's
(1998) argument for a new methodology in the research of language attitudes, namely the
replacement of mentalistic matched-guise techniques based on social psychology, by a social
constructivist approach using discourse analysis as method. According to them, this
qualitative study provides insights that traditional quantitative methods cannot due to their
nature of procedure. Hyrkstedt and Kalaja (1998) apply this view on their discourse-analytic
study of newspapers (letters-to-the-Editor) concerning language attitudes among Finns
towards the English language and its functions in Finland.
Language attitudes are expressed in discourse whereby features within a discourse are
situated in time and space. In a given society, certain aspects are more salient than others. The
present investigation follows Wetherell, Taylor and Yates' description of discourse, i.e. the
study of representation and meaning creation in social communication to reveal cultural
patterns of significations and representations of reality (Wetherell, Taylor and Yates 2001:i).
In this study, critical discourse analysis is used to uncover power relations in the debate on
official English in relation to immigration. The next section will therefore provide an account
of critical discourse analysis (henceforth CDA) as an approach.
4.3.1 Critical discourse analysis
Tollefson (2006) defines the use of the term 'critical' in language policy research as having
three interconnected meanings. Firstly, as a critique of the traditional approaches to language
policy which focuses on the development of language policies related to solving problems in
multilingual situations and increasing socioeconomic opportunities for members of linguistic
minorities. The critical approach in contrast "acknowledges that policies often create and
sustain various forms of social inequality, and that policy-makers usually promote the
interests of dominant social groups" (Tollefson 2006:42-43). In the second meaning to
'critical', Tollefson includes the idea of research aimed at affecting particular societies, in
other words, research directed to creating social change based on rectifying inequalities in a
given society. Thus, in this sense, research looks at the aspect of inequality in the social,
political and economic spheres and attempts to develop policies that reduces social injustice.
CDA suggests intervention in social practices in order to empower those that are powerless. In
other words, CDA aims to cause change in order to remedy inequality. The third meaning
refers to research included in works within critical theory. This area is concerned with
inequality and looks at the processes that are involved in creating and maintaining it –
especially ideological processes in which inequality is seen as a natural situation. In this
meaning the notion of 'power' is principal for the reproduction of inequality (Tollefson
2006:42-43). For Wodak, 'critical' in CDA refers to an attitude of not taking expressions for
granted, and exposing covert structural power relations and ideologies (Wodak 2007). In the
same way, Van Leeuwen (1993:193) sees CDA as investigating "discourse as the instrument
of power and control as well as discourse as the instrument of the social construction of
reality". The role of language is furthermore also significant since according to Blommaert
and Bulcaen, CDA deals with relations of inequality and power as demonstrated in language
use (Blommaert and Bulcaen 2000:447).
Since CDA includes studies with different theoretical background and uses different data
and methodologies, as well as various definitions of the same terms such as 'power',
'ideology', 'critical' and 'discourse', any discussion regarding CDA should also specify the
CDA perspective and core research theory used (Wodak 2002). CDA uses an interdisciplinary
approach and has particular focus on issues related to language and power (Wodak 2002).
Wodak further clarifies that CDA cannot focus on language alone and must take account of
extra-linguistic approaches (Wodak 2007a).
Within CDA, language is social practice and should, therefore, be considered in the
context of its use (Wodak 2007a). Language as social practice entails a relationship between
the discursive event and the situations, institutions and social structures which shape the
discursive event. It is a dialectal relationship because the discursive event is seen as shaped by
the social as well as shaping the social (Wodak 2006:175).
In this study, security as a social issue caused by immigration is seen as expressed through
language. Since, according to Wodak, CDA focuses on social problems such as "racism,
identity, and social change" and not solely on linguistic elements (Wodak 2006a), CDA is
used as the main framework of analysis in this investigation. The grammatical theory that is
partly used to support the text analysis is systemic functional linguistics in line with
Fairclough's use of it (Wodak 2007a).
Furthermore, since "core CDA" representatives are generally considered to be Fairclough,
Wodak and van Dijk (Blommaert and Bulcaen 2000:454), below is a brief overview of the
approaches taken by the latter two in relation to Fairclough's approach.
Wodak uses a discourse-historical approach in CDA which combines theoretical and
empirical research applied to large data corpora and ethnography. Fairclough usually focuses
on a small data size and does not often do fieldwork himself. Wodak uses textual analysis and
argumentation theory. This can be contrasted with Fairclough's use of mainly functional
systemic linguistics for the linguistic analysis (Wodak 2001; 2007). Wodak's approach is
described as "multimethodological", which allows for a variety of genres (written, oral and
visual texts) and methods (qualitative and quantitative) to be combined in the same study
(Wodak 2006:171-174). In this regard, it should be noted that Fairclough also includes
written, spoken and visual images in his reference to 'text' (Fairclough 1995a:4).
Van Dijk is the main representative of the socio-cognitive model. His work includes
aspects of cognition. His argument is that personal and social cognition mediate discourse
structures and social structures. In other words, cognitive structures mediate between
discourse and social structures (Wodak 2007a). Memories and mental models are seen to
affect discursive practices (Wodak 2002). Also in this view, power is regarded as an abusive,
oppressive tool which is imposed on subjects that are passive. Thus subjects are seen as
incapable of acting as agents with possibilities for resisting structures. This is in contrast with
Fairclough's view of power as negotiated, based on Gramsci's concept of 'hegemony' in which
people have, to a certain extent, the possibility of resisting (Jørgensen and Phillips 2002:91).
Van Dijk uses a varied methodology but often applies argumentation theory and semantic
theories (Wodak 2002).
Fairclough's perspective of CDA offers a more poststructuralist understanding of discourse
and the social than other CDA approaches. His view of the constituted and constitutive role of
discourse in social change is in contrast to other CDA approaches that have a tendency to see
discourse as a reflection of structures and which attribute the main role of discourse as that of
social reproduction (Jørgensen and Phillips 2002:91).
According to Wodak (2007), the recent focus on identity politics, language policies, and
the use of social theories and linguistic analysis combined, are important advances in CDA.
This is in line with Tollefson's (1991:20) claim that it is necessary to interpret language
policies in relation to the struggle for power and interests in order to see its role in the
organisation of a given society. In light of this, Thompson states that it is important to keep in
mind that language planning can both transform and reflect relations of power to the extent
that minority languages are adopted in educational, legal, and governmental institutions
(Thompson 1991:202) or are excluded from institutional practices.
Criticism to Fairclough's framework of analysis is that it is unclear how to demonstrate
empirically the dialectal relationship between discursive and non-discursive elements, In other
words, it is difficult to pinpoint the demarcating line between elements that are in dialectical
relationship as well as demonstrate exactly where and how the discursive and non-discursive
elements influence each other (Jørgensen and Phillips 2002:89). However, the boundary
between discursive and non-discursive elements can be to some extent dealt with by the social
theories and analytical choices (Jørgensen and Phillips 2002:90) made by the researcher,
which entails another difficulty within CDA regarding the degree of subjectivity of the
researcher in the perspective chosen for the study. This fact is brought up by Schegloff
(1997:166-167) who refers to the categories or "truths" that are put forward while others are
backgrounded. If all characterisations are considered to be equally necessary and legitimate
then Schegloff asks: What decides the choice of one truth instead of another? His answer lies
in the contextual relevance and the characterisations that humans use for understanding and
constructing the sociocultural event and states that:
because it is the orientations, meanings, interpretations, understandings, etc. of the
participants in some sociocultural event on which the course of that event is predicated –
and especially if it is constructed interactionally over time, it is those characterizations
which are privileged in the constitution of socio-interactional reality, and therefore have a
prima facie claim to being privileged in efforts to understand it (Schegloff 1997:166-167).
Widdowson (2002:131, 146) criticises CDA for confusion in distinguishing between
discourse in relation to text, and analysis as different from interpretation. Widdowson argues
that the link between analysis and interpretation is the political commitment taken in the
programme of CDA which may reflect a tendency to replace argument with persuasion.
Fairclough's reply to Widdowson is that he makes a distinction between discourse and text in
his perspective (Fairclough's 2002:148). It is significant to mention the distinction that
Fairclough makes between discourse as an abstract and count noun. The former relates to
language use in the wider perspective of social practice and the latter, namely as a count noun
in which discourse or discourses refer(s) to ways of "signifying experience from a particular
perspective" (Fairclough 1995a:135). Furthermore with regard to Widdowson's point on
interpretation, Fairclough (2002:148) points out two senses of interpretation. Firstly,
interpretation involves the ordinary activity of finding meaning in language use whether it is
spoken or written text (sense 1). The second sense of interpretation refers to the attempts
made by the analyst to make connections between the texts and practices of interpretation in
sense 1 to a particular context and wider social dimension. Interpretation in sense 2 attempts
to see how sense 1 is socially, culturally and ideologically (also referred to as explanation in
Fairclough 1992) situated. In effect, according to Fairclough (2002), this is different from
Widdowson's critique of CDA favouring certain interpretations, even though practitioners of
CDA are politically committed, that is, carrying value judgements that some practices may
have negative effects on certain people and that some alternative practices are better than
others. In light of this, Fairclough further questions the implication that the approaches such
as those carried out by Widdowson can be said to be impartial and refers to Ashmore, Myers
and Potter who state that "a categorical opposition between science (or theory) and ideology
cannot be sustained – even the purest of science may work ideologically" (Ashmore, Myers
and Potter 1994 as cited in Fairclough 2002:149-153).
A further criticism is that although Fairclough insists that analysis should combine text
study with production and consumption practices of texts, the main part of his studies, as well
as other forms of critical discourse analysis focus on textual analysis (Jørgensen and Phillips
2002:89-90). Since the main concern in this study is establishing security as an issue for
language planning and policy making with regard to language attitudes as expressed in
newspapers, it is considered suffice to follow the main part of Fairclough's study and focus on
his approach to textual analysis.
4.3.2 Fairclough's three-dimensional analytical framework
CDA is based on the examination of texts in order to uncover their underlying ideology.
Fairclough's use of CDA as an approach focuses on the link between language use and
relations of power, and attempts to explain existing conventions as a result of power struggle
and power relations. Language provides a locus for struggle (Fairclough 2001) and is one of
the reasons why Fairclough's perspective of CDA is chosen for this study. The other reason is
that his approach uses a linguistic perspective to written media texts.
Fairclough's approach is based on textually (linguistically) oriented discourse analysis
(TODA) to studies of social and cultural change (Fairclough 1992:5-7). He claims that an
integrated approach between linguistically oriented and socially oriented discourse analysis is
necessary for a more complete understanding of social change and a movement towards a
'social theory of discourse' (Fairclough 1992:5).
For Fairclough, three types of constraints exist in the interaction between unequal power
participants in which the most powerful has the possibility to control various aspects. Firstly,
the most powerful can decide the content i.e. what is said and done during an interaction.
Secondly, the relations i.e. the social relations taken up during discourse are mainly based on
the powerful participant. Thirdly, the subjects/'subject positions' occupied by participants are
defined e.g. by labels (cf. Appiah 2005), which affect relations between participants. All three
constraints overlap and co-occur (Fairclough 2001:38-39).
Also, language, as social behaviour, is seen as closely linked to ideologies since it relies
on 'common sense' assumptions (Fairclough 2001:2). Texts have different levels of
explicitness and assumptions. Nevertheless, texts often have an overall vision that form part
of background assumptions, which are present in several texts in a process of universalisation
that forms ideologies (Fairclough 2003:45-46). Thus, the analysis of reproduced and
transformed discourses in several texts permits an easier account of how discursive practices
are a constitutive part of the social world (Jørgensen and Phillips 2002:89) and is also a
reason why this study analyses the available ways of speaking in several newspaper articles.
In Fairclough's model, three dimensions are identified (Fairclough 2001:18-21, 1995b:59)
in which the representations of discourse takes place simultaneously (Mesthrie and Deumert
2000:325), namely Discourse as social practice, Discursive practice and Discourse as text
(Fairclough 2001:18-21, 1995b:59). Discourse as social practice refers to the widest sphere of
social context which determines discourse (Fairclough 2001:23-25). Social identities, social
relations and systems of knowledge and meaning are constructed by discourse (Jørgensen and
Phillips 2002:67). Thus, underlying conventions determine discourse. 'Orders of discourse' is
the term used when these conventions form a network system within a particular social
institution and belongs to the level of social practice. The order of discourse is a particular
discourse perspective that is made up of discourse types. Thus the order of discourse provides
the structure for the discourse types and underlying discourses (Fairclough 2001:23-25) and
genres. In other words, the order of discourse is the sum of the discourse types in a social
domain/field. The discourse types are made up of discourses (in this study given through the
speech acts of societal security) and genres and belong to the level of discursive practice
(Jørgensen and Phillips 2002:67-68). Discourse types are quite stable (Fairclough 1995b:66).
Discourses are viewpoints which give meaning to experience (Fairclough 1995a:135). A
genre is the use of language in a type of activity that is a social practice (Jørgensen and
Phillips 2002:67) – and is therefore conventionalised. Genres are particular text types which
involve certain processes of production, distribution and consumption. Genres as
conventionalised activities can range from processes involved in informal chats, the act of
shopping, a television documentary (Fairclough 1992:126) or news genre (Jørgensen and
Phillips 2002:67-68). Discourses refer to a particular way of talking about a subject. In this
way contents are mediated through discourses, which are constructions of the subject/content.
Although certain discourses are more likely to appear in specific genres, they may still be
used in other genres (Fairclough 1992:128). For Fairclough (1995a:4) a text is any written,
spoken or visual image or a combination of these semiotic forms. A text is thus an instance of
language use that can be analysed. A discursive event refers to a circumstance of language use
that can be analysed at all three levels, namely text, discursive practice and social practice
(Fairclough 1995a:135). In this study, national security corresponds to social practice as it
refers to the wider context of security seen from the state level; societal security corresponds
to the order of discourse as one aspect of security that a state contains (thus leaving room for
political, military, economic and environmental sectors that can be threatened or constitute a
threat); and the texts, with the newspaper articles (including opinion articles) as genre, will be
analysed for uncovering the discourse types that constitute societal security discourse as
regards language. Following is a more detailed report of the three dimensions in Fairclough's
Discourse as social practice is the view of language as a part of society, namely as
constitutive and constituted by society. This entails that language is affected by linguistic and
extra-linguistic factors in the society in which it is used. A dialectal relationship is assumed
between language and social phenomena in which one aspect reflects and affects the other
(Fairclough 2001:18-19). Linguistic phenomena must adhere to the conventions of usage in
the given society. Interactions between people are determined by the social relationships that
are established by social practices. The individual may enact those relationships in two
possible ways, namely either by reproducing or by changing them. More importantly,
language is only one part of the social since there are also extra-linguistic phenomena in
societies (Fairclough 2001:19-20).
Fairclough views discourse from an ideological perspective in which power relations are
engaged in a hegemonic struggle (Fairclough 1992:86). Ideologies are seen as representations
or constructions of reality i.e. the ways in which reality – made up of the physical world, the
social relations that are enacted, and the social identities that are available – is signified
(Fairclough 1992:87) through meanings expressed in discursive practices resulting in the
maintenance or change of power relations. Ideologies become part of discursive practices and
their repetition, prevalence and the consequent acceptance of these practices as natural, can
lead to the conflation of ideologies and 'common sense' practices. Not all discourses, however,
carry ideological significations to the same degree, some discourses have more ideological
imprint than others (Fairclough 1992:88, 91). Thus, language use and implicit common-sense
assumptions existing in conventions "regulate" linguistic practice in social interactions.
Common-sense assumptions of language use are regarded as unconscious and naturalise
authority and hierarchy. The link that exists between language, power relations and ideology
is significant since ideologies permit legitimisation of social relations and unequal relations of
power by repetition and familiarity of behaviour, wherein language is the most common
(Fairclough 2001) means of performance. Power struggle is also a struggle for which ideology
is to become the prevalent one in a society and subsequently lead to the transformation of
what is considered as 'common sense' (Fairclough 1992:88, 91). Fairclough also draws on
Gramsci's concept of 'hegemony' as significant for analysing social practice and power
relations since it sees the practice of power through a process of consent or agreement and is
thus, not imposed by force. This means that domination and naturalisation is realised through
agreement about the ways in which the social world is represented (Fairclough 1995a, 2001).
The social practice (also called social-cultural practice) may have several levels of
abstraction ranging from the immediate context of the communicative event to the wider
context of institutional practices, as well as to the even wider scope of society and culture.
Three aspects are distinguishable in a critical discourse analysis of the social practice of
context, namely the economic, the political dealing with issues of power and ideology, and the
cultural dealing with issues of value and identity (Fairclough 1995b:62). The interpretation of
Fairclough's view in this study includes that these three aspects are applicable at the
production and consumption levels of a text. Fairclough further states that an analysis of the
social practice in a text would aim at answering why the discourse practice is the way it is –
bearing in mind the constitutive effects of discourse, and specifying the effect the discourse
practice has on the social practice (Fairclough 1992:237). Thus the communicative event is
analysed in terms of whether it reproduces or contributes to transforming the social practice.
A focus on systems of knowledge and beliefs, social relations, and social identities are useful
to reveal the ideological and political effects of the discourse (Fairclough 1992:238).
Fairclough uses discourse instead of the term 'ideational function' to emphasise its constitutive
role and to signal that systems of beliefs and knowledge enter the texts in a constituted form
(Fairclough 1992:128), and in this way may indicate a reading of legitimised power and/or
resistance to it.
Furthermore, Fairclough uses the Foucaultian term 'orders of discourse' to refer to the
totality of discursive practices in an institution or a society (Fairclough 1992:69). Orders of
discourse are quite stable but nevertheless liable to change (Fairclough 2003:220) and indicate
discursive aspects of social practices (Fairclough 1992:71). In other words, orders of
discourse as a part of social practice constrain the transforming possibilities of the text and
provide the frames into which the text is expected to create its meaning. The discursive
practices within the orders of discourse are viewed as reproducing relations of power
(Fairclough 1995b:67-68). The representations or constructions of reality are signified
through discursive practices (Fairclough 1992:87). Furthermore
the way in which different discourse types are related to each other and the extent to
which they are kept apart or mixed together, is another struggle over language. This
connects back to…orders of discourse: the way in which an order of discourse is
structured – the relationships between constituent discourse types – is determined by
power relations, and therefore contested in power struggles (Fairclough 2001:84).
The above quote can be related to the new framework for security introduced by Buzan
(1991 in section 4.1.1) and the further development of societal security by Waever (1993 in
section 4.1.2). This study hopes to consolidate the position of language within societal
The dimension of discursive practice refers to the processes of production, distribution and
consumption, which are specific to social contexts (Fairclough 1992:78). In addition,
discursive practice mediates between the macro dimensions of social practice and the micro
dimensions of text analysis (Fairclough 1992:86). The production and consumption of texts
are constrained by 'members' resources', which include internalised social structures, norms
and conventions and which, in turn, constrain the production and consumption processes
(Fairclough 1992:80). In this study, discursive practice will focus on the discourse types that
exist in the newspaper articles following Mesthrie and Deumert's statement that it is common
to use media texts in critical discourse analysis studies (Mesthrie and Deumert 2000:326).
From within the dimension of discursive practice, the production of texts can include other
texts on its surface creating 'chains of intertextuality' that are actually networks of distribution
of prior texts. Throughout these chains, the text may undergo transformations to
accommodate the genre it is integrated into, as is the case when a political speech is used in
news reporting (Fairclough 1992:84-85). Fairclough further explains that at the level of
consumption, the interpretation of the text is affected by the other texts that the consumer
accesses during the interpretation process which the consumer uses to form presuppositions
(Fairclough 1992:84-85). Also, already at a first stage, the genre of a text e.g. newspaper
article or interview (Fairclough 1992:126) raises certain expectations and assumptions by the
consumer regarding the content and layout. The property of intertextuality of a text may lead
to the continuing reproduction of existing conventions or to new ways of using previous texts.
These creative processes are characterised as discursive change, which may indicate change
of a wider social significance above the level of the text (Fairclough 1992:85).
Fairclough distinguishes 'manifest intertextuality' from 'constitutive intertextuality' or
'interdiscursivity' (the latter term 'interdiscursivity' will be used in this study henceforth).
Manifest intertextuality is the explicit presence of other texts in the text e.g. by usage of
"quotation marks" (Fairclough 1992:104). Interdiscursivity refers to the inclusion of elements
that are usually part of other discourses (Fairclough 1992:85). In other words, analysing
interdiscursivity involves looking to see what external discourse elements are present in the
text and how they are used (Fairclough 1992:232). Metaphors may reveal instances of
interdiscursivity since they are tools for constructing reality and therefore form part of our
systems of knowledge. The way a "domain of experience is metaphorised is one of the stakes
in the struggle within the discourse practices" (Fairclough 1992:194-195). Bearing in mind
the focus of this study it is worth mentioning the conceptual metaphor presented by Lakoff
and Johnson, namely argument is war, which is claimed to be used in a range of expressions
in everyday life. It reflects a structure of the actions that are performed by individuals when
arguing; in which the argument is conceptualised as a physical conflict (Lakoff and Johnson
1980:4). The metaphor argument is war can be viewed as an element of interdiscursivity.
The third dimension in Fairclough's model is Discourse as Text. The 'text' is a part of
discourse and the outcome of the 'process of production' and a resource in the 'process of
interpretation'. The production process involves the inclusion of 'traces', which are then taken
up to some extent as 'cues' in the process of interpretation. The productive and interpretative
processes involve the features in the text and the 'members' resources' i.e. a bank of previous
experience – knowledge of language and representations – formed by values, beliefs and
assumptions the individual has accumulated of the natural and social reality (Fairclough
Therefore, at the macro level of social practice, this study will proceed by uncovering the
discourse types and speech acts of societal security, based on Waever's (1993) definition of
the concept, and their relation to Ager's (2001) study of motivation in language policy
making, particularly his motive of insecurity. The focus is on the views given by individuals
and organisations that are in favour or against the establishment of English as an official
language in the US. As mentioned earlier, the analysis in this investigation will depart from
the following perspectives: national security is seen as the social practice for its state-level
qualification and also that national security is constituted by an interrelation between various
aspects in a state, namely military, economic, political and environmental securities as well as
societal security which has its focus on identity; societal security represents the order of
discourse since it is one of the many security aspects that can be/is perceived as threatened in
a state. The study will then proceed to uncover the discourse types of societal security bearing
in mind Mesthrie and Deumert's (2000:344) statement that "favoured patterns of language
(style, discourse, accents) are conceived of as symbolic assets which can receive different
values depending on the market in which they are offered". Since the focus of this study is
based on intrastate relations due to migration, societal security will serve as the analytical lens
by which the data is approached. Thus, the study assumes a power relationship existing
between language, identity and immigration. The notion of 'societal security' contains the idea
that immigration can destabilise a collective identity wherein societal security is the
maintenance of essential characteristics under changing circumstances of real or perceived
threats. Waever describes it as: "More specifically, it is about sustainability, within acceptable
conditions for evolution, of traditional patterns of language, culture, association, and religious
and national identity and custom" (Waever 1993:23). The link between language and identity
has been established by several independent studies some of which are mentioned in section 3
of this work and therefore needs no further development here. The connection between
language-identity and immigration is seen here from the point that since the link between
language and identity is established in studies and literature, movement of people and the
subsequent contact between different language speakers may be said to entail what will be
referred to here as a realignment and/or renegotiation of language and identity.
Following the CDA tradition, the study also assumes the presence of conflict in the texts
expressed in established ways of defining and dividing the experience of the world and the
new ways that challenge these and lead to social change. Thus the possibility of (social)
change is a strong perspective considered in this work. From the micro perspective, a
linguistic analysis is carried out to uncover the ideologies of societal security in relation to the
link between language and immigration within the context of the US. Thus conflict in the
texts is assumed since the study is focused on expressions of real or perceived threats. In order
to carry out an analysis of the texts, a systemic functional approach to language, as applied by
Fairclough, is used.
Halliday's systemic functional approach to language provides tools for facilitating a
microanalysis of language in relation to the context of use. Halliday identifies three
metafunctions that can be paralleled to Fairclough's model of discourse. Firstly, the ideational
metafunction is equivalent to the dimension of discourse as social practice and its influence
on the constraints of content in a communicative event, i.e. what is said and done. Therefore
the clause is seen as a means of representation of the discourse in the text identifying the
construction of the systems of knowledge and beliefs. Secondly, the interpersonal
metafunction is connected to Fairclough's view of discourse constraints on social relations and
social identities. At this level, discourse constructs social relationships through enactment. In
other words, social identities and positions are negotiated and established. Finally, the textual
metafunction is equivalent to Fairclough's Discourse as text dimension (Fairclough 1995b:5758, 64-65). The clause is thus seen as a carrier of messages at different levels. Fairclough
extends Halliday's functional relationships at clause level to include functional relationships
between sentences (Fairclough 1992:175). Therefore departing from Fairclough's critical
discourse analysis framework, aspects of Halliday's Systemic Functional Grammar will be
used to support the analysis of the surface of the texts. Halliday's grammar focuses on the
choice of words in the construction of text and the text's relation to the context, and will thus
serve as a supporting tool to the CDA approach adopted here for uncovering ideologies and
relations of power in the data. Below is a description of the Hallidayan tools that are used in
this study.
4.3.3 Hallidayan functional linguistics
In Functional Grammar, the text, as an instance of language, is viewed as an object or artefact
in which meaning is context dependent. Language is also viewed as an instrument or
specimen in which the linguistic system is in focus. Both perspectives are seen as
complementary and necessary for explaining a text (Halliday 2004:3, 5) and exist in a
dialectal relationship of context-language. Language is regarded as a resource for 'semiosis' –
a tool for the creation and understanding of meaning (Halliday 2004:4, 5). Systemic
functional grammar sees the components of language, grammar and vocabulary, as
inseparable parts of the same continuum, i.e. 'lexicogrammar' (Halliday 2004:7). By studying
the different levels of meanings that are mapped onto the clause (Halliday 2004:10), systemic
functional grammar provides a method for approaching language in use.
Within functional grammar, five dimensions are distinguished to describe language as a
system of meaning (Halliday 2004:20) and which represent different intensities of relation to
the extra-linguistic sphere. The dimensions of syntagmatic and paradigmatic orders include
tools available for the study of language as a self-contained entity. The dimension of
stratification "realises" (an adaption of Halliday's 'realization' concept referring to the process
of linking between strata) the link between the wider context – the extra-linguistic world –
and language. The remaining two dimensions that is, the instantiation of text and
metafunctions serve as the outward expression within a specific context of the possibilities
provided by the previous dimensions (Halliday 2004).
The first dimension, the structure or syntagmatic order expresses what goes together and
how grammar is functionally organised in compositional layers in a relation of parts to create
meaning at different levels (Halliday 2004:20). These levels of parts/layers are the morphemeword-group or phrase-clause.
The second dimension, the system or paradigmatic order expresses the choices that are
made along a system network of subcategories that give rise to meaning formed through
"systemic patterns of choice" (Halliday 2004:23). Alternative choices are seen to reflect
meaning potential (Halliday 2004:23) and can therefore be significant in exposing aspects of
ideology in the official English debate in the US. In Halliday's approach, the meaningful
choices in a text represent the system network of Transitivity, Mood and Theme/Rheme
(Halliday 2004). The systems of Transtitivity and Mood will be described in more detail
below since they are used in the data analysis. The view of the present author is that the
Theme/Rheme system is seen as more suitable for investigations where the whole text is
analysed with regards to its internal construction and therefore is not included in this study
since the focus here is to view the ways of speaking of societal security as expressed across
several texts. Jørgensen and Phillips state that “it is easier to show how dynamic discursive
practices take part in constituting and changing the social world when analysing the
reproduction and transformation of discourses across a range of texts” (Jørgensen and Phillips
The third dimension is stratification. Language is viewed as a stratified system in which
the mode –writing or speech – is separate from the stratum of content, which expands into two
further strata, namely semantics and lexicogrammar (Halliday 2004:24). At the stratum of
content, grammar transforms and reinterprets the experience of the world (located in the
ideational metafunction) and the enactment of social relations (located in the interpersonal
metafunction), into meaning, i.e. the stratum of semantics (Halliday 2004:25). This meaning
is then transformed into wording within the stratum of lexicogrammar contained in a
continuum/cline of lexis and grammar where the paradigmatic and the syntagmatic patterns
occur. These steps are from the perspectives of the speaker/writer. The reverse procedure is
valid from the listener/reader perspectives (Halliday 2004:25, 45).
The fourth dimension refers to the communicative event in which language is 'instantiated'
as text. The system of a language (as a meaning potential resource existing in a context of
culture) is instantiated in a text within a context (Halliday 2004:26-28). It is at this stage that
the result of the stratification dimension is expressed, since the semantic stratum functions as
an interface between the extra-linguistic (experience of the world and social relations) and the
linguistic spheres (Halliday 2004:26-28).
Finally, the fifth dimension viz. the metafunctional principle will be explained in more
detail due to its application to the data in this study. Three metafunctions are recognised
namely the ideational metafunction involving the identification of processes that interpret
human experience. The interpersonal metafunction involves the perspective of language
analysis in order to reveal the production or reproduction of social relationships between
humans by means of the social identities assumed and the attitudes expressed. Lastly, the
textual metafunction is the construction and organisation of the text that enables the other two
functions to be expressed through discourse in textual form (Halliday 19-30). The term
'metafunction' is used to emphasise that function is a fundamental part of language (Halliday
Moreover, three main systems are distinguished for analysing the clause in a text in the
fifth dimension, namely Transitivity, Mood and Theme corresponding to the ideational,
interpersonal and textual metafunctions. Elements surrounding the clause are also significant
for contextual aspects e.g. the lexicogrammatical resources of cohesion, namely conjunction,
reference, and lexical cohesion – repetitions and synonyms (Halliday 2004:532-535).
A description of the ideational metafunction, namely its experiential component, and the
interpersonal metafunction, namely the modality type, will follow. The experiential
component is represented by the Transitivity system, which interprets the world by placing
each experience of (event in) the world into a process type in order to make it manageable.
Six process types (major clauses) are distinguished: the material process of 'doing', 'acting',
'creating', 'changing', and 'happening/being created'; the relational process of 'having an
attribute/identity', and 'symbolising'; the verbal process of saying; the mental process of
'thinking', 'feeling' and 'seeing'; the behavioural process of 'behaving'; and the existential
process of 'existing' (Halliday 2004:172). The analysis of Transitivity in this study will relate
to what process types are used in a sentence; the expression of agency as well as the
attribution of responsibility; and the circumstantial elements of time "when", space "where",
manner "how", and cause "why" (Halliday 2004:259-263).
The ideational metafunction does not indicate the attitudes and relations between the
identities. The enactment of social relations falls within Halliday's interpersonal metafunction
(Fairclough 1992:160). The interpersonal metafunction is the location where personal and
social relations are enacted and in which the speaker expresses their appraisal and attitude
towards the people addressed and the topic (Halliday 2004:29).
The notion of the clause as an exchange is represented by the grammatical system of
Mood (Halliday 2004:135). Within the system network of Mood, the indicative clause is
divided into the Indicative Type and the Modal Deixis (in which the Modality Type is a
subtype). The Indicative Type is further divided into declarative or interrogative clauses, and
the Modality Type is further divided into expressions of probability, usuality, obligation and
inclination (Halliday 2004:135). Both the Indicative Type and the Modality Types indicate the
attitudes of the speakers. Of particular interest for this study are the modalities used in the
discussion of official English issues since relations of power between the social identities are
indicated by modality. Therefore modality will be particularly focused on in this
investigation. Modalities show the degree of commitment involved, i.e. modality reveals the
intermediate meaning possibilities between the yes and no. Thus, the degree of commitment
involved is less determined than those expressed by categorical assertions (Halliday
2004:618). The analysis of the data will also use lexicogrammatical resources of cohesion that
allow a clause level study to be transcended. This study will thus approach the texts through
the systems of Transitivity (main verbs) and Mood (modal verbs) as well as taking account of
elements around the clause as defined by Halliday, i.e. the lexicogrammatical resources of
cohesion, namely conjunction, reference, and lexical cohesion (repetitions and synonyms) in
order to identify ideological aspects in the texts (Halliday 2004:532-535, 570-576). The
lexical cohesion resources are also the starting point of analysis as these are viewed as key
elements in the construction of ways of speaking that dominate in a particular society (see
Fairclough 1992:88, 91).
5 Method and Material
This study consists of data collected from four newspapers in the United States between April
2006 and December 2007. The criteria for the choice of newspapers are based on their size
and regional association. The newspapers selected for the study are: USA Today, The New
York Times, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle. According to the Audit Bureau
of Circulation listing of March 2009, USA Today has the largest circulation with 2,113, 725
number of copies distributed on average daily. The New York Times is third on the list
(following the Wall Street Journal of the weekdays and weekend issues – a newspaper that is
too specialised in business and financial news for inclusion in this study) with an average of
1,451,233 issues on Sunday and 965, 471 and 1,039,031 for Saturday and Monday to Friday
respectively. The Los Angeles Times is placed fourth on the list for its Sunday issue at
1,019,388 and occupies positions 7 with 799,369 issues for Saturday, and 10 with 723,181
issues Monday to Friday. The San Francisco Chronicle is the smallest newspaper in the data
ranked 54th on the list with an average of 354, 752 issues on Sunday, and 312, 408 (ranked
67th) and 312, 118 (ranked 69th) for Saturday and weekdays respectively (see Table 1
Table 1. Audit Bureau of Circulation listing of newspapers in the US. March 2009
Circulation (average)
USA Today
daily distribution: 2,113,725
The New York Times
Sunday: 1,451,233
Saturday: 965, 471
Monday-Friday: 1,039,031
Sunday: 1,019,388
Los Angeles Times
Saturday: 799,369
Monday-Friday: 723,181
Sunday: 354,752
San Francisco Chronicle
Saturday: 312,408
Monday-Friday: 312,118
The USA Today and The New York Times are selected as part of this study because they
are two of the three largest newspapers in the US. The Los Angeles Times and San Francisco
Chronicle are chosen on the basis of their distribution being mainly directed to a geographical
area that has a large number of Spanish speaking immigrants, both legal and illegal. In other
words, the Los Angeles Times represents one of the largest newspapers in the country and
targets a particular region and the San Francisco Chronicle represents an even more
"localised" group of readers. Both newspapers are located in the southwest coast of the United
States. The US Census Bureau (2005) indicates that California is the most populated state in
the country and Estimates of 2009 (US Bureau 2009) indicates that the area of Los Angles is
the second most populated metropolitan after the metropolitan area of New York.
The types of articles used as data are from the news and opinion sections. The reason for
combining news articles with opinion articles is to avoid a skewed view on available speech
acts and discourse types since news articles are written by journalists that are often employed
by the newspaper for which they write. It is, therefore, possible that journalists may reflect the
ideology of the newspaper – or for that matter their own beliefs – in the choices they make
regarding the construction of their content – even though they are expected to reflect both
sides of a debate by allowing opposing views in their final news product. On the other hand,
opinion articles are often one-sided and written in a persuasive manner. It must be noted that
opinions are also present in articles written by journalists because there is a conscious attempt
to depict reality "objectively" and thus allow different sources to express their attitudes
towards a particular issue.
Fairclough (1995b:33; see also section 4.3.2 for Fairclough's view of textual hybridity)
states that most texts contain a mixture of discourses and genres. Fairclough also makes a
distinction between explicitly expressed texts – 'manifest intertextuality', and links between
types of discourse – 'interdiscursivity' (Fairclough 1992:21). Based on the establishment of
this difference by Fairclough, this study approaches the topic in question with the notion that
it is possible to focus on discourse types obtained through word choices without making
detailed comments on the genre obtained through instances of manifest intertextuality.
Interdiscursivity in this study is identified by the use of words from different spheres/sectors
such as political, economic, environmental or military. These sectors, along with societal
sector (societal security forms the underlying principle of this study), are based on Buzan's
(1991) new framework for security analysis as well as Waever's (1993) concept of 'societal
security'. Thus, the specification of the sectors for identification of interdiscursivity is based
on the theoretical background used in this study (see section 4.1.1 for Buzan's five-sector
security framework and section 4.1.2 for Waever's concept of 'societal security'). Fairclough
(1992:118) also states that "interdiscursivity is a matter of how a discourse type is constituted
through a combination of elements of orders of discourse". Interdiscursivity is thus identified
when the ways of speaking from the other domains (Buzan's other four sectors) are found
integrated in the data. Furthermore, since metaphors are the mapping of a source domain onto
a target domain with which it is less associated to (so that the target domain is understood
based on the concepts of the source), interdiscursivity is also seen to exist in this study when
metaphoric expressions are present in the data e.g. Lakoff and Johnson's (1987:4-6)
conceptual metaphor of argument is war, which will be used to look at the debate on
immigration in the US. The view of the present author is also that similes can be seen as
elements of interdiscursivity by their function of comparing two entities that may belong to
different domains.
Consequently, by combining these two types of articles (news articles and opinion articles)
in this study, there is an attempt to obtain an overview of the discourse types that appear
regarding the debate for official English in the United States. A straightforward comparison
for similarities and differences between the discourse types, and at a more specific level of the
speech acts resulting from the text analysis, in the different types of articles has not been
made since the aim of this study is not to investigate where these similarities and differences
lie between the newspapers. The goals of this study is instead to uncover the discourse types
and speech acts regarding immigration and language issues in societal security that are
available in the debate in general
The data is approached with the notion that there exists a conflict of views – more
specifically expressed in speech acts of securitisation – between official English supporters
and those that are against the measure. Views in the data by other individuals such as that of a
resident in the region in question or an expert regarding language use in daily interaction are
also taken into account. The analysis departs from the perspectives of national security as the
social practice for its state-level qualification (see section 4.1.1 for Buzan's model and section
4.1.2 for Waever's separation of societal sector from the model to bring forward the notion of
'societal security'). According to the model presented by Waever (1993), the collectivenational level is seen as containing the conceptual focus of sovereignty for the state and
identity for societal security. From Waever and Buzan's perspective, security is constituted by
an interdependency of various sectors in a state, namely military, economic, political and
environmental securities as well as societal security. In this investigation, societal security
represents the order of discourse since it is one of the many security aspects that is – or can be
perceived as – threatened in a state. Since the study focuses on societal security issues related
to the maintenance of a collective 'we' identity in relation to language, only articles that
explicitly deal with immigration and its association to language are included in the analysis.
Also, because it is assumed that in many instances the data would not show explicit reference
to security, the selection of the material for analysis is also based on the definition of security
as related to real or perceived threat. Thus, the data is restricted to the parts of the articles that
refer to societal security or aspects of an existing threat where language is used as a speech act
for constructing a situation concerning societal security. This is intended also to limit the
scope and maintain the focus of the thesis to language policy related issues, since the topic
under study is very extensive due to its interdisciplinary character. Therefore, all the
newspaper articles included in the data deal with the English language and the representation
of immigrants (as carriers of a home language) and/or an American national identity – aspects
that are significant for societal security. Bearing in mind issues regarding intersubjectivity and
in order to reduce subjective interpretation in qualitative data analysis, the choice of examples
is based on the explicit presence of the words "English" and "language" (or closely related
references e.g. "bilingualism", "communicate" – if in direct link to the capacity to
communicate through a specific language). Since the study is concerned with societal
security, group/individual representations of immigrants are also noted. In this way, words
such as "immigrant" and "immigration" or ethnic group labels e.g. Hispanics, Americans, and
the qualifying linguistic items surrounding these words are also considered.
The data collected is from the time period April 2006 to December 2007. The reason for
the choice of this period is because the Senate in the United States passed an amendment in
May 2006 sponsored by Oklahoma's Republican Senator Inhofe that declared English as the
national language. The amendment was to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act (bill
S. 2611). The proposal for English as the national language established that government
officials would not need to provide services in other languages unless specified by law. In
practice, according to the present author, the amendment is more related to English acquiring
an official status and not a symbolic status as a national language. Another relevant event
affecting the choice of the period for the data is that on May 1, 2006 a protest march A Day
Without an Immigrant – May Day boycott was organised nationwide. This demonstration
aimed to show that immigrants are needed for the US economy and was a reaction to
discussions on the immigration reform bill in the Senate. The demonstrators demanded
amnesty for the illegal immigrants in the country. The protest was manifested in a strike from
work and people were advised to not buy anything on that day. The intention in this study is
to look at the public debate in the period leading up to these events, more particularly those
related to the status of English, in the hope that the debate is most intensive during that time.
The reason for extending the period to December 2007 is based on the fact that English was
approved as a national language by the Senate, and also the debate had reached low intensity
by the end of 2007 seen by the number of articles that resulted from searching the respective
newspapers. Only online versions of newspapers were used which also means that not all
material published on this topic may have been available for this study since newspapers may
have not made them available online at the time of collection.
The online archives of the four abovementioned newspapers are used to find articles
pertinent to the study, namely those dealing with immigration, the English language and an
aspect of societal security through threat. Out of 50 articles (the sum of articles that dealt with
issues of language and immigration), 24 news and opinion articles (six from each newspaper)
were selected. The selection process of the 24 articles is random. All the 50 articles are
printed and piled. Then six articles from each of the four newspapers are chosen randomly
from the pile. Some articles deal exclusively with the language debate while other articles
include language as an issue among others. A criterion for the selection is that all the articles
in this study have to deal with both immigration and language in order to allow a societal
security approach to the data. As a second step, extracts of the articles are selected and
organised according to explicit arguments in related to the official English debate. All
references, totalling 156, except for 14, from the 24 articles that explicitly deal with language
are included in the study under the data analysis section in the speech acts related to language
(sections 6.1.1 - 6.1.5 and section 6.2.1 - 6.2.4). Out of the 14 references to language that are
not part of the analysis: six name the different communities that had passed measures
affecting the status of English without a specific argument except that they may be short-lived
since board members will change, that the proposals died for lack of support, or had
references to statistics of monolinguals and non-English speakers (inside articles 4, 8 and 10);
three references describe the amendment added by Senator Inhofe or by Senator Tancredo
(inside articles 10, 23 and 24) A direct quote from the amendment is part of example (12) of
the speech act of Obligation; one reference describes issues of unintelligibility of the English
spoken by customer-service in outsourced businesses (inside article 11); two references in
article 20 deal with keeping English pure but do not appear in any other article; one reference
deals with the significance of presidential candidates having commonsense rather than the
languages they speak (inside article 22); lastly, one reference explains that the link between
official English and illegal immigrants is clear in the English-only ballot initiatives presented
in Arizona (article 9). The distribution of the references from the articles in the data analysis
section referring to the English language is given in Table 2 below. The speech acts regarding
representations of immigrants and immigration (see sections 6.1.6 - 6.1.11 and 6.2.5) are not
included in Table 2 since they are a complement to the main focus of this study, namely the
issue of language status in relation to national identity. The column "Examples" refers to the
references from the articles that are analysed linguistically. The column "Links" refers to
references that are related to the example either as support or in contrast to the content in the
example in question, and are therefore taken up in the analysis.
Table 2. Distribution of the references from the articles
Speech acts (SA)
SA of Time
SA of Obligation
SA of Willingness
SA to Help
SA of English as Unifier
SA of English-Optional Services
SA of Multilingualism as Cost
SA of Health and Safety
SA of Opportunity
Notes are made of the representation of immigrants based on group boundaries that are
demarcated through signifiers representing collectives. Nouns and pronouns have been the
initial only primary focus for group representation but as the analysis has proceeded, the role
of metaphors and similes has become apparent and relevant for the study since they depict
how groups are identified or perceived.
The extracts are analysed using linguistic tools in which the criterion of repetition
(including synonyms and topics) is used as a basis for organising the material into categories
giving discourse types. Repetition is taken as a departing point for uncovering naturalised
states that form ways of speaking about a particular topic. In this way, synonyms play an
important role in identifying multiple ways of referring to similar things. It must be noted that
synonyms are seen as giving rise to similar expressions containing differences of meaning.
This is based on the interpretation in this investigation of Saussure's (1972:113) view of the
system of language as built on a system of similarities and differences where no true
synonyms can be identified. Examples of these from the data are main verbs such as
"encourage" and "urge", modal verbs such as "should" and "must" and nouns describing
immigrant groups or the "American" individual. Although the approach is to depart from
The total number of examples analysed in this study are 140, wherein 95 are speech acts concerning the
English language and 45 are speech acts of immigrants and immigration (sections 6.1.6-6.1.11 and 6.2.5).
these aspects as a guide, this does not however mean that other grammatical aspects such as
adverbs and pronouns have been excluded since the aim is to discover ways of speaking that
reveal themselves in the analysis. In sum, repetition serves as a means for uncovering
ideology. Also the choice of repetition as a basis for identifying speech acts limits the risk of
subjectivity in interpretation and the selection of examples.
The analysis focuses on the type of main verb used in the extract to indicate the process
used for action or state; modal verbs are analysed to look for intermediate positions of
categorical positions between yes and no of attitudes as well as the reflection of power
relations between the groups/individuals in the extract; and conjunctions are analysed for the
establishment of links between clauses or words indicating relationships of meaning. The
initial idea has been to take adverbs of place because of the ethnolinguistic localised contact
but it soon became evident from the data on an initial analysis that adverbs of time are
dominant and are thus focused on. Other linguistic features are referred to if they are
necessary to support the analysis.
Some extracts coincide partly in content. In order not to affect the representation of the
discourse types and speech acts in the data, the sections that overlap are placed in accordance
with the speech act category to which they relate. This entails that the same extract may
appear in different linguistic categories if it contains multiple perspectives.
Since the aim of this study is to uncover ideological discourses related to societal security
in which language policy is associated to migration issues with the assistance of Fairclough's
framework (1992), the study proceeds in several stages – similar to the levels of analysis
presented by Wodak (2006:177-176) of "middle range theories" and "grand theories". Merton
(1957:107-109) describes middle range theories as limited scope theories that involve
abstraction (by linking a certain number of facts regarding the functions and structure of
social constellations) but are nevertheless close to the observation of data and not as broad as
a grand theory which aims to explain all aspects of social life, i.e. wide-ranging explanations
of the social as a whole system. Middle range theories can be said to be intermediate stages to
more comprehensive theories. An example of a middle range theory is that of social mobility,
communication, and the formation of norms (Merton 1957:107-109). In light of the above and
in the attempt to draw closer together the levels of social practice to the textual analysis, the
examples are first viewed with regard to the linguistic and extra-linguistic theories and
concepts in section 3 relating to discursive practice through the notion of middle range
theories. This is followed by an association to the wider theories and concepts of 'security' and
language policy in sections 4.1 and 4.2. In other words, this investigation first carries out a
linguistic analysis on the language in the relevant extracts from the articles. This procedure is
followed by linking the textual analysis to the discourse theory by categorising the speech acts
and discourse types available in the data. In the third and fourth stages, the data is linked to
linguistic and extra-linguistic theories and concepts.
More concretely, the study begins with the investigation of discourse as text using the
Hallidayan ideational, interpersonal, and textual metafunctions, corresponding respectively to
the experiential, modal, and lexical components. Using Fairclough's approach to textual
analysis, the data is analysed for explicit, surface, grammatical elements and their meanings
such as verbs indicating processes, modals indicating interpersonal relations and nouns for
representations of collectives and individuals. As a result, certain patterns are visible in the
discussion of the topic of official English. These patterns have given rise to two discourse
types i.e. Loyalty and Efficiency. The construction of social identities and 'we/them' relations
are analysed with the help of not only modality but also metaphors and similes.
Interdiscursivity related to immigrant and immigration representations by means of metaphors
are also included in the discourse types of Loyalty and Efficiency. The results are then viewed
in relation to societal security and human security as well as language policy making.
Before proceeding with the findings of this study in section 6, a brief presentation is given
below of models that can explain why the topic of official English has been included in the
newspapers in the US.
5.1 Newsworthiness and the official English debate in the US
Shoemaker, Chang and Brendinger (as cited in Häger 2009) present a model for news value in
which the higher the deviance of the event the more value it has for news. Nevertheless, an
event that has low level of deviance can still constitute a news item and may still warrant
reporting if its social value due to proximity in time and space is significant enough. Prakke's
(as cited in Häger 2009) model attempts to explain newsworthiness in relation to an event's
distance from the reader. According to Prakke, the further away the event is from the reader
the lesser its news interest. This distance is "measured" by three factors namely space, time
and culture. Space ranges from areas that are closest, in the surroundings or in the periphery
of the reader. Time is divided into the present, past and the perfect tenses. Cultural distance is
determined by commitment/involvement or active engagement by the reader giving the most
news value, followed by interest, and finally knowledge in the subject as the furthest point.
An event has most news value when it is closest in space, present in time and the reader is
culturally involved or active in the issue and can be said to be personally affected. In the same
way, it has the least newsworthiness if the event is in the periphery of the reader's
surroundings, it requires the perfect tense to report it and the reader is only related to the event
through having knowledge rather than experience linked to it. As regards this study, the
debate on official English is seen as having news value due to its proximity. Following this
thought, it may also be assumed that newspapers in regions that have greatest number of
immigrants are likely to give greater news value to articles related to immigration and the role
of the English language.
5.1.1 Newspapers in the US
During the colonial period, the need for news, information and provision of education gave
rise to the appearance of newspapers and books in America. These media were controlled by
colonial authorities located in Britain which had established a licensing system as a way of
restricting and maintaining an overview of the information flow in the United States. During
the eighteenth century, newspapers were active in fighting the license requirements and
attempted to respond to an increasing population as well as strove to influence political
happenings. The social importance of the press as a source of information was significant
during the expansion towards the west by the colonisers. During the War of Independence
they informed the population of events taking place in other parts of the country and even
gained reputation among Americans as supporters of their struggle against the British. Once
independence had been achieved, courts strengthened the freedom of the press which was
guaranteed in the 1791 First Amendment of the Bill of Rights (Mauk and Oakland 2005:281282). The First Amendment does not allow Congress to pass laws that control or punish the
press before nor after publication of material although exceptions occur such as in time of war
(Sreberny 2004:91). By the turn of the century, approximately twenty daily newspapers and
approximately a thousand local weekly newspapers were in circulation. During the nineteenth
century, newspapers were owned by powerful individuals and were circulated widely at a low
price. The New York Times (1851), New York Herald (1835), and New York Tribune (1841)
are examples of papers that reached a large readership. The owners of these newspapers
developed news gathering methods and newspaper structures. In 1889, the first chain of
newspapers was founded by E.W. Scripps. This event marked the beginning of twentieth
century large organisations owned by one person. However, newspapers were later also
owned by companies and today the press is mainly the property of multimedia conglomerates
(Mauk and Oakland 2005:281-284). The media system in the US can be described as
privately-based and dependent on profit making and advertising (Sreberny 2004:88).
In 2003, approximately 1,457 daily newspapers had a circulation of about 55 million. The
United States is often referred to as not having a national press that is based in one city nor
does it have newspapers that are issued at the same time in the whole country. This is mainly
seen as a consequence of its size, the time zones it covers and issues of local identification.
Many newspapers tend to focus on local matters (Hallenberg 1998:119; Mauk and Oakland
2005:286) and thus have not attained mass readership at a national level (Sreberny 2004:88).
Sreberny (2004:84) states that although the media are effective in bringing together different
parts of society – in the case of this study, the American society – to create and maintain a
feeling of national culture, local cultural groups still survive. Also, a local newspaper can help
to revive the local community and create a sense of belonging to the locality. There are
however three newspapers that have countrywide distribution namely USA Today, which is
characterised by short articles and a popular style, the Wall Street Journal, a business-oriented
newspaper which also contains political analysis, and The New York Times, a metropolitan
newspaper which is one of the main newspapers in the world. These newspapers along with
the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times have national influence and international
repute (Hallenberg 1998:119; Mauk and Oakland 2005:286).
According to the Editor and Publisher International Yearbook, 2002, the average
circulation of the main daily newspapers during that year ranked the USA Today (2,136, 068)
with the most circulation, followed by the Wall Street Journal (1,800,607), The New York
Times (1,113,000), and the Los Angeles Times (925,135). Of the above newspapers, only the
Wall Street Journal is not included in this study due to its specific content. A fourth
newspaper is also part of this study – the San Francisco Chronicle for its local focus (Mauk
and Oakland 2005:286). Based on the statistics presented by the Audit Bureau of Circulation
listing of March 2009, the positions of the circulation of the three largest newspapers (not
including the San Francisco Chronicle) are similar to those of the Yearbook 2002, implying
that their influence was relatively the same during the period 2006-2007, which is the time
frame in focus in this study.
Newspapers in the US have experienced a decline in their sales which has led to reduced
competition and a diminishing of the variety of publications. Media conglomerates now
dominate the market making up approximately 75 per cent of the daily newspapers. The
concentration of ownership has advantages e.g. maximising efficiency and profits but also
risks the presentation of similar content and ideology and contributes to the reduction of space
for non-mainstream views (Sreberny 2004:92; Mauk and Oakland 2005:287). Furthermore as
regards content, although individual journalists still gather news for most newspapers,
especially the large newspapers, the trend is for an increased reliance on US-based news
agencies that are independently owned namely the Associated Press (AP) and United Press
International (UPI). These organisations sell national and international news to the media –
including newspapers (Mauk and Oakland 2005:287-288). Private groups constantly work
towards influencing the content in the press, in some cases suggesting measures of censorship
(Sreberny 2004:91), but some view that as a result of the need to compete with television,
newspapers have attempted to make their content as objective as possible (Mauk and Oakland
2005:287-288). Since the media sets the agenda of what is newsworthy, the study of the
opinions and views reflected in newspapers become interesting for investigation despite goals
of objectivity through self-censorship and the presentation of the different sides to a case
(Mauk and Oakland 2005:296). The next section provides an analysis of the content of four
US online newspapers regarding attitudes in the debate concerning official English.
6 Discourse of immigrant language as a threat to societal security
The analysis of the data is based on sentences in which the words "English", "language"
"immigrant" and "immigration", including related forms such as "bilingualism" and
"Hispanics", are mentioned in newspaper articles. The newspapers from which the articles are
taken are: USA Today, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times (LA Times), and the San
Francisco Chronicle. All the articles deal with the debate regarding the status of English
during the period April 2006 to December 2007. At least one of the abovementioned words
needs to be present in the sentences for the extract to be included as data. The reason for
extracts to be taken from the articles is because many articles also include aspects that are not
directly related to language, the representation of immigrants or the immigration debate as
regards English. Since this study focuses on aspects surrounding the status of English in the
US, it is considered unnecessary to include those other aspects for a close linguistic analysis
although the context in which the extract is placed is often mentioned.
As a result, different speech acts of security are distinguished namely Time, Obligation,
Willingness, Help, English as Unifier, English-Optional Services, Multilingualism as Cost,
Health and Safety, and Opportunity as regards the role of English in the US. Immigrants are
found to be represented as Criminals, Large Quantities of Water, Harmful, and as a Labour
Resource. Additionally, immigration is portrayed as a Sovereignty Issue and the debate
regarding immigration as Racial and as War. The resulting speech acts of security are
presented below. They are arranged under two larger categories namely the discourse types of
Loyalty and Efficiency.
Apart from Halliday's Systemic Functional Linguistics (2004), the following grammar
books and dictionary are consulted in order to carry out the analysis of the texts: A
Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (Quirk, Svartvik, Greenbaum, Leech and
Crystal 1985), Cobuild English Grammar (Sinclair et al. 1990), A Practical English Grammar
(Thomson and Martinet 1986) and the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current
English (Hornby, Crowther, Kavanagh and Ashby 1995). At the end of each of these analyses,
a summary is presented to contextualise the individual speech acts and discourse types within
an interdisciplinary perspective using linguistic and extra-linguistic concepts and theories.
6.1 Discourse type of Loyalty
6.1.1 Speech act of Time
The speech act of Time is mainly characterised by adverbs which create an emotion of
urgency. Example (1) from article 8 "Push for 'official' English heats up" published in the
USA Today indicates an appeal to immediate action:
If immigrants don't learn the language soon after arrival, he says, many
never will.
The adverb of time soon indicates urgency. The use of the adverb of time never indicating
frequency and soon in combination with the conditional clause beginning with if using the
present tense has the implication of a warning of a certainty regarding future developments
indicated by will. The Sayer is Rob Toonkel, a representative of U.S. English which is a group
that is in favour of English as an official language. The verb learn (also as ellipsis after will)
indicates the process that is to be accomplished. The society is further implicitly divided into
immigrants and non-immigrants by the noun immigrants.
Example (2), in opinion article 18 titled "The pursuit of happiness – in English" in which
the Sayer is in favour of the movement for official English expresses the same need for
immediate action although more directly by suggesting actions:
Among the ways we can do this as quickly as possible is to replace
bilingual education programs in our public schools with intensive
English instruction and abolish the federal mandates requiring
multilingual ballots and government documents.
The use of the adverb quickly expresses a sense of urgency to the current situation –
similar to soon in example (1) above. The use of the modal can in this case may indicate both
a possibility as a suggestion for future action or as an ability for a solution that is within grasp.
The conjunction and ties the suggested actions replace and abolish entailing that one action
cannot be done without the other and are of equal importance. In this way bilingual education
is tied to multilingual ballots and government documents. The adjective intensive in its
meaning of concentration of effort or hard work serves to put more emphasis on the time
factor. The pronoun we is used here in opposition to "new Americans" introduced earlier in
the article.
The next example (3) from the same article 18 also emphasises urgency:
These multilingual documents discourage immigrants from learning
English as rapidly as possible, limiting their ability to engage in a truly
common political culture.
The use of the adverb rapidly expresses a sense of urgency to the current situation
implying that "a here and now" solution is necessary. The documents in question are
governmental and therefore based on federal rules. The author specifically refers to ballots
earlier in the paragraph.
Example (4) from an LA Times news article 14 "Immigrants' children grow fluent in
English, study says" is a statement made by an individual that is described as an expert due to
his professional position and who supports restrictions on immigration. The aspect of urgency
is present indirectly by reference to problems:
"The Pew study points to some long-term problems," said Mark
Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies,
which favors conservative immigration policies. "One in eight
American-born children of immigrants doesn't speak English well…And
even the grandchildren of immigrants who arrived decades ago, 6% of
them still don't speak English well. That's pretty bad news."
The issue of time decades not resolving proficiency – defined vaguely with an adverb of
degree well – is emphasised by the adjectival use of long-term before the negative noun
problems serving as a warning at the beginning of the quote. It is also interesting to note that
in opinion article 23 in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sayer refers to several Republican
and Democratic Senators' opinion that becoming fluent in English should be a condition to
live in these United States, in which the progressive form becoming and the adjective fluent
indicate the highest degree of language acquisition over a period of time. The reference to
time in decades ago, in example (4) above from article 14, is also used as a reference point for
the adverb still indicating the Sayer's position in favour of the official English movement. The
adverb even accentuates the Sayers argument since it makes prominent something
The information of delay in learning English given in example (4) particularly through
even, still and decades ago is also reflected more directly as urgent in example (5) from
opinion article 20, titled "English as the official language?" in the San Francisco Chronicle:
The proponents behind the measure [anaphoric reference to make
English the official language] contend that…newcomers to the United
States aren't learning English as quickly as previous groups.
The use of the adverb quickly – denoting that learning English is not supposed to take the
time it presently takes – is used in comparison to historical patterns of language learning
through the prepositional phrase indicated by as…as. The use of the adverb quickly entails a
power relationship between the groups since one group may be able to define the time period
for acquisition of English (this can also be linked to the use of newcomers). The Sayer in this
extract is against the declaration of English as an official language but is referring to the
opinion of those that are in favour of official English. The writer of the article is further
described as Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College as well as
an author of several books.
The example below (6) from article 14 also gives the statement of an expert UC Irvine
sociology professor, but adds to the debate by arguing the opposite of what the official
English proponents suggest, namely that language shift is taking place faster than before:
"People get very upset about 'Press 2 for Spanish,'" said Rubén G.
Rumbaut, a UC Irvine sociology professor who has done his own
research on the language issue.
But "there is no way English is being threatened by immigrants…The
switch to English is taking place perhaps more rapidly than it has ever
in American history.
The adverb rapidly states that the shift is actually happening at a fast rate, although no
specific time interval is given. It indicates that the action is occurring over a short time,
moving or acting quickly.The degree adverb more in combination with the comparative than
indicates an increase in a historical pattern regarding time before or up to the moment of
speaking by the use of the adverb ever. The Sayer reduces a categorical viewpoint and
responsibility by inserting the adverb perhaps indicating an opinion that is not firm.
References to the Sayer's professional title characterises his opinion as that of an expert and
also containing objective value.
The next two examples (7) and (8), respectively, from news article 14 in the LA Times
confirm that language shift takes place:
Similar studies have also concluded that immigrants' native languages
recede over generations.
The material verbal processes indicate a happening recede in the present tense thus
implying a general state of affairs that occur over a longer period of time generations and
which, in this case, are related to language shift issues. The Sayers are presented as experts
that have presented finalised statements in the noun studies. In example (8), the verbal process
verb reports carries neutrality due to the source of information being presented as an expert
organisation Research Center. The centre is later described in the article as a nonpartisan
research organization that does not advocate immigration policy:
A study released Thursday by the Pew Hispanic Center, reports that in
families like the Peredas, for whom Spanish is the dominant language
among immigrant parents, English fluency increases across
generations. By the third generation, Spanish has essentially faded into
the background.
The emphasis is on time as the factor for language shift indicated in the use of the
adjective and noun Immigrant parents and the prepositional phrase By the third generation
indicating the specified time in which language shift occurs. Moreover, the preposition across
in front of the noun generations emphasises time. The verb fade also indicates something that
occurs over time, in this case as a gradual change towards reduction. In a similar way, article
7 from the USA Today refers to a report by the Lewis Mumford Center (given as experts) that
92% of second-generation Hispanics speak English "well". Article 7 is written by a Sayer that
works for an organisation that is against the Inhofe amendment and who also refers to studies
in general confirming acquisition of English taking place as quickly as our immigrant
A further interesting aspect is the dichotomising of existence, that is the "either/or"
situation for the possibility of acquiring the languages namely that an increase in English
fluency implies a reduction of competence in Spanish. This perspective is also present in
example (9) from the opinion article 24 in the USA Today titled "Press 2 for pointless":
In practice, English already is the national language, even among the
children of immigrants: 93% of second-generation Hispanic Americans
are bilingual or speak primarily English, according to a 2002 national
survey by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Kaiser Family. By the third
generation, hardly anyone speaks only Spanish, and just 22% of Latinos
are bilingual.
The prepositional phrase By the third generation indicates a shift in language knowledge
over a long period of time. Although the adverbial already shows a relation to the present
referring to a time before, an indication of the present situation is given by the relational
process verb is. The Sayer, who is also the author of the article, later expresses the view that
he/she is against legislating a "national language". It is also possible to position the Sayer
since he/she claims that language shift is taking place without legislation. The view of
language shift is also taken up in article 8 in relation to a study by a professor in sociology,
Ruben Rumbaut, which showed that few Americans were fluent in their mother tongue by the
third generation. He further claims that Spanish is threatened and not English.
The final example (10) in this section is taken from article 14, LA Times, and gives the
point of view in indirect speech of a 20 year old second generation Hispanic immigrant,
described as U.S.-born. The content of this example can be seen as a confirmation of the
claims of language shift made in the examples above:
(10) She values her bilingualism but said growing up in the U.S. has made
her more articulate in English than in Spanish
The material process verb growing up indicates a durative process resulting in a change of
the person in question implying a possible prediction of language shift due to the specification
of the location in the U.S, although not originating in a conscious action. The material verb
with auxiliary verb has made may also be seen as indicating a process that has taken place
over a period of time. The mental process verb values indicates positive emotion which is
contrasted in the next clause by the conjunction but. The use of the conjunction but indicates a
contrasting clause containing information regarding generational language shift towards the
dominant language English and away from bilingual proficiency in English and Spanish.
Summary and further considerations: speech act of Time
Two different perspectives can be explicitly distinguished in the speech act of Time, namely
those that are in favour of implementing official English or stricter immigration policies, and
those that provide “neutral” descriptions of reality such as expert studies. The stance that is
against the measure is not directly available from the quotes in the examples but may be
deduced from the content in the overall article. An additional source is provided by the
bilingual individual of Spanish descendent.
In relation to the general attitude as regards time it is possible to state that those promoting
official English claim urgency in the need for immigrants to learn English by using adverbs
such as soon, quickly and rapidly as in examples (1-3), and (5-6). In example (5), the author
refers to the position of the proponents as regards the time in which immigrants should learn
English, but positions himself in the overall article as against the measure. The expert
commentator in example (6) refers to an increase in the speed of language shift in relation to
previous generations. The "neutral" or expert sources in example (6) implicitly and examples
(7-9) mainly indicate a long-term tendency of language shift towards English in terms of
decades or generations. The Spanish descendent in example (10), confirms language shift by
referring to the process of growing up, with all its implications of socialisation.
Combining the different views presented through the speech act of Time there seems to be
a general naturalised acceptance of language shift towards English among all the Sayers in the
above quotes, which indicates a model of assimilation in Giddens' (2001) terms rather than
the models of the melting pot or pluralism since the expressions do not relate to the value of
integrating or recognising immigrant cultures as equal, in this case immigrant languages. This
finding can be linked to Schmidt's (2002) work on racialisation discourse in which
assimilationists claim that bilingualism is an obstacle to an inclusive, equal society. The data
further shows a focus on language shift which carries a meaning of abandoning the previous
main language in favour of another in a zero-sum situation thus also leaving open possible
strengthening of hierarchy between languages due to functionality and status acquired by the
number of speakers that undergo the process of language shift. Further, the attitudes of
language shift indicates a tendency to contradict Salzmann's (1993:194) statement – in this
case in relation to different languages – that individuals can participate in several speech
communities by adjusting their speech since overlapping social activities entail overlapping
speech communities. This is evident from Mendoza-Denton's study in that bilingualism is
widespread among US Latinos (Mendoza-Denton 1999) but which may be interpreted as
temporary based on the results of this study. The findings indicate a difference between
attitudes and the actual language use in the US. This is valid at least in what concerns
language skills. This also entails a relation of power between the groups reproducing the
historic placing of English as naturalised and hegemonic which, as Fairclough (1992:67)
describes, is an agreement on how the social world is represented. Galindo's (1997) claim is
also significant to the findings in this study by which assimilation through language loss is
presented as an unavoidable process towards becoming “an American”. The attitude of
language shift as a must can be further linked to Schmid (2001:10) who writes that the
allowance of diversity within existing notions of national identity and security is often
adopted as a short term policy with the objective of assimilation. The discussion of the length
of time for learning a language and language shift may be seen as reflecting power relations
through Fishman's (1972) view that patterns of shifts between languages reflect tolerance
levels towards practices of linguistic pluralism in a society as a whole.
The assimilation model and notions regarding language maintenance are most clearly
exemplified in examples (2) and (3), in which changes towards English monolingualism in
educational and political participation as well as informative practices are argued for, and
therefore encroach on human security (CHS 2002-2003; UNHDR 1994). The monolingual
tendencies by the supporters of official English may be based on an idea similar to Kloss' (as
cited in Mesthrie and Leap 2000:253) view that language maintenance is linked to social
usage. Also, examples (2) and (3) can be seen as a rejection of the 1968 Bilingual Education
Act, which albeit expired in 2002, and the 1972 amendments to the Voting Rights Act of
1965. Both laws were inspired by the Civil Rights Act and took account of the needs of
linguistic minority groups (Spolsky 2004:99; Schildkraut 2005:12).
The focus of time pressure in relation to assimilation, through negative references and
consequences for not assimilating and specifically, what may be interpreted as discriminating
measures suggested in examples (2) and (3), can be related to 'cultural racism' (Giddens
2001:252) in which differences of culture and criticism for not assimilating are used as a base
for marginalisation. Kymlicka (2002:353-355) claims that fair integration is a long-term
process that provides services in immigrants' mother tongue and that their identities and
practices are respected by the majority. The pull towards assimilation, as shown in examples
(2) and (3), results in an implicit coerciveness denying immigrants the maintenance of their
own language. These attitudes however can be interpreted more favourably if one takes
account of May's (2005) study in which the instrumental use of a language permits
identification between its speakers. In this case, this belief would benefit the pro-official
English supporters. Thus, it may be claimed that the process of forced language shift due to
monolingualism in institutions will bring about a shift of identification of immigrants towards
the dominant group by removing the immigrants' ability to communicate in their L1 with the
same institutions. The purpose of language shift in the data may thus lead to a redefinition of
the individual's identity due to social interaction as described in Taylor (1994a:32). Example
(10) can be connected to this aspect namely by the individual's easier articulation in English
than in Spanish as a result of having grown up in the US. Her situation can be related to
Fishman's (1966) process of de-ethnicisation, in which language loss takes place at a faster
rate than cultural loss, signalled by the emotional quality of the verb values.
Furthermore, it is worth relating the issue of the urgency to learn English and the idea of
removing bilingualism/multilingualism in public institutions and government documents such
as those in example (2), to the notion of 'nonrecognition', rendering invisible the language of
minorities (Kymlicka 2002:332) in the long term. Similarly, references to assimilation
through learning the language indicates that Taylor's suggestion for multiculturalism and
identity through recognition of one's own needs (Taylor 1994a) is not evident in the speech
act of Time, although Taylor, possibly contradictorily, leaves open the discussion of what
carries value and also states that communication needs a common language.
Example (4) links the low level of proficiency with time by referring to immigrants and
their descendants. This view may be connected to Bourdieu's notion of the 'linguistic market'.
In this case, English is seen as the valued variety and linguistic capital exemplified by the
adverbs well, still, even entailing an exclusion of immigrants across generations from the
legitimate market place. Examples (8) and (9) referring to the generational language shift may
indicate an agreement with Veltman's (1983:213) claim that the shift is now closer to the
second generation rather than the third.
Generational shift can also be related to the issue of loyalty in Connor's (2007:77)
perspective of contractual loyalty being a weaker form of loyalty that needs to be proven.
Thus language shift and even the need for conditional citizenship based on language (although
this may be more linked to democracy and the efficient functioning of a state) are related to
the emotion of loyalty. In the context of the US, language loyalty to L1 may then be seen as
an indication of ethnic loyalty which Niculescu (1996:716) states is associated to language
maintenance, rather than civic loyalty or in Connor's (2007) term 'contractual loyalty', in this
case, to the US. Therefore, the attitudes expressed in the data in favour of language shift by
the supporters of official English may be seen as linked to desires for expressions of
contractual loyalty by immigrants.
Finally, an interesting aspect is that Spanish is mentioned explicitly in the some of the
quotes in examples (6), (8), and (9), although not in the quotes of proponents of official
English and although immigrants or newcomers are mentioned in examples (1) and (3-5), the
individual perspective that is included as an example of generational language shift belongs to
a person of Hispanic descent – example (10).
6.1.2 Speech act of Obligation
The speech act of Obligation reflects power relations between groups, particularly of those
that are in favour of official English and how immigrants are included in their arguments.
Example (11) from news article 21 "Protests could cause political problems for backers of
balanced approach" published in the San Francisco Chronicle shows the function of a modal
of obligation regarding a national symbol:
(11) Richardson, the New Mexico Democratic governor, who is of Mexican
heritage…Richardson also agreed that the anthem should be sung in
The use of the modal should indicates an obligation of right and wrong, in this case related
to the national anthem. Also, it is clarified that the Sayer is of Spanish speaking origin and
refers to a demonstration in which the participants sang the national anthem in Spanish. The
verb agreed as well as the adverb also imply that there are others that hold the same opinion.
The Sayer, Richardson, is in favour of a "comprehensive immigration reform". A similar
wording is attributed to a Republican Senator Lamar Alexander in the same article 21: The
national anthem should be sung in English, "not French, German, Russian, Hindi or Chinese,
the second most widely spoken foreign language after Spanish, or Spanish". Senator
Alexander further links the issue of singing the national anthem in English to unity of the
country by using the pronoun one to emphasise the amount in let's sing it together as one
American nation in our common language in which "let" in combination with "us" can be
seen as either a polite suggestion or instruction (see also examples in the section speech act of
English as Unifier). Article 21 also refers to President Bush as having stated strongly that
English should be used to sing the national anthem (see example (58) in the speech act of
English as Unifier) as a contrast to the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's statement that
the national anthem has been sung in many different ways e.g. rap, country, and classical, and
who refers to this phenomenon as [t]he individualization of the American national anthem is
quite under way.
The issue of the national anthem in this example can be related to the English Language
and Patriot Reaffirmation Ordinance proposed in article 4 in The New York Times for the
declaration of English as the official language of the community Pahrump in Nye County, and
which also proposed an imposition that would forbid individuals to fly foreign flags without
an accompanying American flag. A critic of this measure and Town board member described
this ordinance as: It's unconstitutional, it's unenforceable and I don't think it reflects how most
people here think.
The following example (12) from article 18 also refers to the support for official English
by another speaker in a different newspaper, namely the LA Times, in which the modal of
obligation is incorporated in arguments to benefit the newcomers through the use of the noun
opportunity. There is also a proposal for removal of bilingual education with the help of the
preposition rather than indicating preference for something:
(12) As part of any comprehensive immigration reform, we should renew our
commitment to making sure that all new immigrants have the
opportunity to learn English. In public schools children should have
intensive English instruction rather than bilingual classes.
The use of the modal should of obligation implies value judgement of right and wrong or
recommendation. The identities of 'us' and 'them' place the should as an obligation enhanced
by a material process to guarantee that a particular result is certain making sure, carried by the
conjunction that. The example indicates a relationship of power due to the existence of a we
that is in a position of defining an obligation to be imposed on others. The Sayer is the author
of an opinion article and is in favour of an immigration reform.
Example (13) below from opinion article 2 published in The New York Times is also a
statement made by a Sayer who is in favour of an immigration bill but who is also against the
amendment proposed by Sen. Inhofe for declaring English as the country's national language.
It is worth noting that although Sen. Inhofe's amendment is referred to as a demand for
English as a national language, which is mainly a symbolic role; his description in the
proposal of an amendment to the bill is actually the description of an official language in the
definitions of language policy literature. This difference is pointed out in some articles but in
other articles where the Inhofe amendment is mentioned an explanation of the difference is
sometimes absent, thus risking a fading between the terms e.g. articles 10 and 20 in this study.
(13) But nobody favoring the Senate bill wants automatic amnesty. It imposes
a long and difficult path to citizenship. Illegal immigrants must have a
clean record and a job, speak English and pay a big fine
The modal of obligation must indicates the position of subordination of the illegal
immigrants. This can also be seen as an attempt to emphasise the dominant group's identity
value. The negative compound pronoun nobody with the conjunction But implies a united
group of individuals. The message therefore can be read as: in order to become part of our
group, you need to become worthy by acquiring certain requisites. Also, the use of the
categorical imposes in the present tense gives the sentence a factual quality. The material
process verb imposes carries inherent power relations in its meaning of placing a penalty
officially on someone, or to make someone endure something that is not welcomed or wanted.
In relation to the importance of learning English in example (13) above, the Sayer in opinion
article 23, when referring to a research report (Pew report) showing that that 20% of Latinos
were found to be bilingual in comparison to 80% for whom English was the dominant
language, sarcastically puts forward that the former will …be able to tell their elders in their
native tongue to either learn English or get the hell out of the land of opportunity….
The following example (14) from opinion article 10 written by Sen. James Inhofe, the
senator who proposed that English be declared the national language, in the USA Today also
uses the modality must in relation to the topics of language and citizenship:
(14) This nation decided long ago that you must know English to become a
citizen. Thus there is no reason to offer government's citizen services in
foreign languages.
The use of the modal must indicates an obligation that it is necessary that something
happens. It also carries an implication of insistence that immigrants need to learn English for
acquiring citizenship. There is an appeal to history with the adverb ago in combination with
the mental verbal process decided attributed to nation entailing that the decision was taken
collectively by a group of 'we' that formed the nation at that time. The noun nation is given
the capacity to decide. This can be related to news article 9, namely to a comment made by
Arizona state Rep. Russell Pearce of Mesa who says that the official English measure is part
of us doing our job to help (immigrants) learn to communicate. Government has an obligation
to promote and enhance English…to help people assimilate.
In the next example (15) from article 8, "Push for 'official' English heats up" in the USA
Today, learning English is linked to personal identity achieved through assimilation:
(15) "This is the most action we've seen in about 10 years", says Rob Toonkel
of U.S. English, a group promoting English as the official language.
"People are split on immigration. But on matters of assimilation, they
agree immigrants should be on the road to learning English."
The use of the modal should indicates power relations and obligation related to issues of
right or wrong, in other words of appropriate behaviour. The pronoun they, in anaphoric
reference to People, implicitly creates a relationship of 'us' and 'them' i.e. non-immigrants as
the People and they in relation to immigrants. Language is expressed as a compulsory factor
towards assimilation as a means that People agree on; although this collective 'we' allows
room for an open membership by a variety of readers since it is undefined as regards its
content. The Sayer, Rob Toonkel is in favour of official English. It is also interesting to note
that in opinion article 23 in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sayer refers to several
Republican and Democratic Senators' opinion that becoming fluent in English should be a
condition to live in these United States, in which the modal should as an obligation is
reaffirmed by the noun condition with fluency as part of the condition.
The following example (16) from opinion article 23 "Crime! Terrorism! Foreign
languages" in the San Francisco Chronicle accumulates several conditions for membership in
the society. There is no explicit statement in this opinion article regarding the position of the
author (and Sayer in this example) in the debate of official English and it is difficult to
interpret his position due to the tone used:
(16) So it turns out it's muy important that immigrants, legal and illegal,
learn English as a condition of citizenship, guest-worker status,
indentured servitude, whatever. President Bush even said last week that
they [anaphoric reference to immigrants] should sing the National
Anthem in English so we don't "lose our national soul"….Forget
terrorism. Pundits and politicians insist that the greatest security threat
to the United States is the influx of Spanish speakers from across the
border with Mexico
The reported speech of obligaton is directly attributed to a figure of authority and is
carried through with a modal should. Also, the noun condition indicates a necessary thing for
something else to be possible, in this case citizenship, and thus constituting an obligation.
While example (16) above attempts to describe the situation of immigrants as employed
guest-worker, indentured servitude, example (17) below from USA Today gives the
perspective of an American citizen:
(17) Those [responses to Steve's campaign against McDonald's advertising in
a language other than English] he saved included a note written on a
Dunkin' Donuts napkin – "Thank G-d for you I need not be subjected to
learning their language".
The use of the pronouns I and their indicates group boundaries. Also, the combination of
the modal and verb need not be subjected indicates a previous imposition of requirement from
the speaker's perspective. Interestingly, the speaker belongs to the dominant/majority group,
and the feeling of subjected is often linked to minority, powerless groups. Thus, the presence
of a new language in a society and its acquisition by the host community members is regarded
as negative and representing coerciveness or imposition on the majority and subsequently a
loss of power. The person that the pronouns he and you refer to is the Republican mayor of
Bogota, N.J. Steve Lonegan who is in favour of making English the official language of the
Example (18) in news article 14 in the LA Times refers to changes in the actual
workplaces, which can be linked to the attitude expressed in example (17) above regarding the
use of English in the society:
(18) In Congress, legislators recently sparred over sanctions against
employers who require workers to speak only English
The use of the verbal process verb require implies an order or demand for something,
especially from a position of authority. Also, the use of the verbal process verb indicating
conflict sparred is used in relation to an obligation require to use English and no other
language in the workplace. The word spar indicates differences of opinion among figures of
authority in its meaning to argue with somebody, most often in a friendly way. In this case it
is the employers that are putting forward the obligation. The Sayer is a journalist and a staff
writer for the LA Times.
Example (19) from article 9 in USA Today, titled "English as official language gains
support at local levels", brings another perspective that can be contrasted to the goodwill
portrayed in example (12) in this section (SA of Obligation) in which learning English is
explained in terms of commitment and opportunity. Thus, in the following example, the
material process verbs punish …taking away in combination with the verbal process verb
demand indicates power relations of obligation carrying the meaning of asking for something
very strongly as if one has the right to do so. Moreover, the Sayer is referred to earlier in the
article as a figure of authority, Arizona State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix, and as an
opponent of Proposition 103 to make English the official language of the state of Arizona:
(19) "To punish people by taking away funding to learn English, and at the
same time demand people learn English, makes no sense at all," Sinema
Example (20), from opinion article 20 in the San Francisco Chronicle, is different from
the previous examples since it deals with obligation duty in relation to the status of language
and links it to freedom of speech. This link places at the centre the balance needed in creating
an imaginary community and interpretations of fundamental rights, namely free speech in
relation to having a right to a (minority) language:
(20) The word "official", in its adjectival function, is defined by the Oxford
English Dictionary as "relating to duty." Duty to speak one language
and not another? Isn't the approach an infraction against free speech.
In the above example (20), the use of the noun duty meaning a moral or legal obligation is
connected to the definition of 'duty' to official English by use of a respected source namely the
Oxford English Dictionary. The author further explains in the article: I can't think of anything
less appealing that [sic] dutifulness in language. The Sayer of this extract is also the writer of
this opinion article and has positioned himself against declaring English the official language.
Example (21) from article 11, titled "Survey finds service communication gap" in USA Today,
has the implication that it is customer pressure that is forcing businesses to use Spanish
(which can be linked to the imposition implied in example (17) above with need not be
(21) Rob Toonkel, spokesman for U.S. English, a group that wants to
preserve English because they say it plays a unifying role, says he
doesn't object to private businesses serving customers in Spanish, but
that in a nation where 300 languages are spoken, customers should not
expect or demand any language except English. "It underscores the
importance of learning English," he says.
The use of the excluding preposition except and the emphasising material process verb
underscores carries the underlying meaning that access to services in languages other than
English is unacceptable (also implied by the use of the modal should). The Sayer Rob Toonkel
as described by the writer of the article also states that it is the customers that are forcing the
use of other languages in the modal should carrying implications of right and wrong, as well
as in the use of demand. In this way, business owners' bilingual initiatives are backgrounded.
Power relations are present in the imposition of what particular groups (speakers of languages
other than English, particularly Spanish speakers) are not entitled to and is indicated by the
mental and verbal processes of expect and demand. An interesting aspect is the role of
businesses in affecting the position of English by catering to foreign language speakers.
The discussion regarding rights and language status is more clearly taken up in the
following extract from article 5 "Press One for English", example (22), published in The New
York Times:
(22) "Unless otherwise authorized or provided by law," the Inhofe
amendment says, "no person has a right, entitlement or claim to have
the government of the United States or any of its officials or
representatives act, communicate, perform or provide services or
materials in any other language other than English." It goes on to insist
that new citizens be tested for knowledge of English and of certain
pillars of American civics….
The use of the verb has indicates possession. In this case it is combined with the negative
determiner and the indefinite all inclusive noun phrase no person in categorical usage which
also extends its negative meaning to the lack of possibility of all individuals to require
services in foreign languages even though mitigated by the conjunction Unless. The
conjunction Unless indicates that what follows is an extra idea that works as a condition that
can change the real situation. Simultaneously, there is an explicit removal of obligation on the
part of government representatives to supply multilingual services. Also the verbal process
insist indicates a demand put forward in the amendment implying also not accepting a refusal
or an alternative. Thus the amendment does two things: one is removal of rights for
multilingual services; and the other is the imposition of obligation to learn English among
other conditions. The Sayer has taken this example as a direct quotation from a proposal to
declare English the national language suggested as an amendment to an immigration bill. The
abovementioned verb has belongs to the text of the amendment as given by the author of the
amendment, but the verb insist belongs to the writer of this opinion article. Example (23),
from opinion article 22 "A divisive declaration of official English" in the San Francisco
Chronicle continues the debate of official English in obligatory terms with the usage of
should and require in what the author claims to be two separate issues, namely official
English and immigration. It is also possible to add learning English as a third issue:
(23) Wolf Blitzer wanted to know if any of the candidates believed that
English should be the official language of the United States. He posed
that question after a series of others on immigration and framed it as
"related" to that issue.
It isn't. You might argue that language is part of the debate because
Congress is considering whether to require illegal immigrants to learn
English on the road to earned legal status. But that wasn't the question.
Declaring English the country's official language has absolutely nothing
to do with immigration policy.
The author uses the modals of obligation should and require indicating power relations
and further emphasises the truth of the statement by using the factuality It isn't and the adverb
absolutely – in contradiction to the hypothesis presented by the modal of possibility might.
The modal should also increases the importance of the issue by its indication of what is
considered appropriate or right in the circumstances. Also, the modal should is given by the
author of this opinion article as the wording used by Wolf Blitzer (although this cannot be
taken for granted) whereas the verb require is more clearly presented as the author's own
wording. In this extract, the author claims that the issues of immigration policy and official
English are not "related"¸ although they are spoken of as such by Wolf Blitzer, also
strengthened by the use of wanted to know indicating an assumption of a connection that the
author of the article claims exists. The author's standpoint in the issue regarding official
English is unclear but he does make explicit that he views that the debate regarding language
status should not be tied to immigration policy. This is in contrast to the view held by Manny
Madriaga, a naturalised American citizen living in San Jose, in example (24), article 13
"Listening To Legal Immigrants", San Francisco Chronicle:
(24) I believe that people who want to become a citizen ought to learn
English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English.
The use of the modal ought indicates importance and the notion that what is being said is
the right thing to do, thus containing the implication of morally correct behaviour. Example
(25) from the same article, 13, emphasises the adaptation previous immigrants have had to
make to become citizens. This article is in reaction to a proposed amnesty to illegal
immigrants, revised guest-worker programs and open borders as described by the author, a
writer for the newspaper, who opposes the amnesty by claiming to trying to keep U.S.
citizenship and sovereignty intact:
(25) I have my own story to share: My mother is a legal immigrant.
Originally from Australia, she went through the long and arduous
process of becoming first a permanent resident and then a citizen. She
had to pass written tests, prove she could speak English….
The material process verb prove includes the meaning that the presentation of evidence
indicates that something is true, which may also imply the fulfilment of an underlying
obligation namely that it is necessary for today's immigrants to show proof of their ability in
English. The modal replacement had to indicates that something is necessary i.e. an obligation
placed on the individual for obtainment of citizenship. The author also refers in the same
article to organisations made up of legal immigrants that want to curtail current immigration
e.g. Yeh Ling-Ling, who is a naturalised citizen and the executive director of a nonprofit
organisation Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America which aims to limit both illegal and
legal immigration. The organisation in question is run by minorities and immigrants. Article 9
in USA Today also describes Hispanic support for official English with the verb garnering
which carries the meaning of collecting something in order to use it. The same article states
that 48% of Hispanics supported the English-only proposal in Arizona. This support
emphasises the role this group has in promoting measures regarding the role of English and
the heterogeneity of goals within the Hispanic group often collectively referred to as unsettled
and lacking knowledge of English.
Example (26), from opinion article 24, in the USA Today uses the terminology that Sen.
Inhofe suggested in his amendment proposal regarding language status:
(26) So should English be designated the USA's "national language"? Sixtythree senators have voted to make it so.
The obligation should indicates the opinion of sixty-three senators of what is considered
appropriate action, thus inferring a possibility of distinguishing what is right, in this case,
taking action to change the present status instead of no action. It is important to note that the
question was answered with reference to figures of authority sixty-three senators. The
question is posed by the author of an opinion article who positions himself/herself against
legislating for a national language. The modal is integrated in a question which the author of
this opinion article uses to argue against the Inhofe amendment.
Finally example (27) from article 24 USA Today and example (28) from article 4 The New
York Times can be related to examples (18) and (21) in this section:
(27) To be sure, employers shouldn't put people who barely speak English
into customer service positions.
The modal of obligation should is used to refer to advised actions for employers when
offering services. The negative adverb contraction n't indicates inappropriate action due to its
combination with the modal. The use of the phrase to be sure adds factuality and naturalises
the information in the following clause by its meaning of something that cannot be denied –
thus already preparing the truth of what follows. Also, the level of proficiency is relatively
indicated in the adverb barely, which although meaning only just, leaves open subjective
evaluations of the capacity of English of others. The author of this opinion article positions
himself/herself against legislating for a national language.
In example (28) from article 4, Spanish is in focus:
(28) Lee Rowland, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of
Nevada, said students had been harassed by school officials for
speaking Spanish in private conversations.
The material verb harassed means to trouble or annoy someone continually or to make
repeated attacks on an enemy thus indicating a dichotomisation of groups in which language
is the cause of separation. Also the agents school officials, as institutional representatives, and
their intervention in the private conversations of students indicate a degree of power relations
and level of intolerance to the use of Spanish in the school environment. The reference to
public and private spheres is in relation to the circumstances within the example, i.e. the
authority that public officials have that allows them to demand certain features in private
exchanges in which they are not one of the participants. No explicit information is given in
the article if Lee Rowland or the organisation he works for is in favour or against the official
English measure but the use of the verb harrassed may give some indication.
Summary and further considerations: speech act of Obligation
The conclusions that can be drawn by combining the results above are that two main aspects
related to language are put forward, namely symbolic and instrumental aspects. The former
includes attitudes concerning the language in which the national anthem should be sung –
implying that it has been sung in languages other than English in examples (11), (24), or the
declaration of a national language as in example (26), and an instrumental requirement of
English for the obtainment of citizenship or legal status in examples (13-14), (16), and (2225). The relationship to language held by some employers in examples (18) and (27) also falls
within the instrumental category.
Other aspects brought up are those regarding the removal of bilingual education in
example (12), linguistic assimilation in example (15) – implicitly in example (28), and an
experience of coerciveness by foreigners on speakers of English in examples (17) and (21).
An interesting aspect is also the reference made in the notes regarding example (11), in which
the Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice refers to different manifestations of the national
anthem as individualization of it, pushing forward a liberal ideology placing the individual in
focus and making an implicit link to freedom of expression.
The symbolic issue of singing the anthem in English as acceptable to Hispanics is
exemplified by the reference to an authoritative figure marked by his ancestry of the ethnic
group. Thus, in example (11) the individual's authenticity of origin gives credibility to his
views and falls to some extent within left-liberal multiculturalism in the US as described by
McLaren (1994:51-52) in which authority is allocated to the voices that are close by origin to
the group in question. This is related to the social construction of the ethnic and linguistic
identities based on situated relations of group identity and loyalty, which according to
Fishman (1999:154) can change. In the case of this study, this would concern identity and
loyalty of speakers of Spanish on the basis of their knowledge of English.
The notion of 'assimilation' is brought up in the obligation to learn English, thus tying
these two processes together as shown in example (15). This attitude may result from the view
that "new" immigrants are not very positive to learning English as claimed by Gonzalez and
Melis (2001:47). The model of assimilation in a multiethnic society entails an abandonment
of the immigrants' original culture (Giddens 2001:256) and its replacement by the idea of
becoming an American through English language acquisition. Assimilative ideas as those
described in example (15) may be connected to Romaine's (1995:316) warning that ideas of
assimilation may in fact strengthen expressions of difference between groups. In the data the
issue regarding the language in which the national anthem is sung is one such example.
Example (28) refers to intolerance to other languages in public institutions which may
have consequences for what languages have most linguistic capital – similar to those shown in
Galindo's (1997) study. Also, the boundaries between private and public language seem to
overlap in the data i.e. in example (28). This is also one of the concerns voiced by the anti167
official English campaigners as written in Crystal (1997:117-128). The normative question in
example (26) regarding the establishment of a national language can be related to the
discussion about the link between official language and immigration policy in example (23).
Both these examples (23 and 26) are status and prestige issues and relate to the official
establishment of what Clyne calls asymmetrical multilingualism (Clyne 1997:306).
Moreover, by singing the anthem in a language other than English, particularly in Spanish,
the individuals may be said to be outwardly expressing their identity which is transferred to a
symbol that is used in the representation of patriotism as stated in Connor (2007:77). The
language in which the anthem is sung becomes important in the construction of the speech
community as given by Morgan, namely through its representation and naturalisation by
unmarked repetition (Morgan 2006:5). This can be related to social change in the US since by
not singing the anthem in English, the immigrants are not following the rules of usage
(Hymes 1974:120) expected in the community. Thus in light of Duranti's (1997:76-78) notion
of 'speech community', the groups in the data are presenting an alternative norm as resistance
and thus constructing social and ethnic identities that exist parallel to the dominant
community. However, the implication of patriotism still remains since the demonstrators sang
the American Anthem – although in a language other than English. In this way, they are
actively constructing alternative expressions of American patriotism – a factor that implies the
construction of alternative expressions of an American identity. The use of obligation terms
regarding the anthem as a symbol of patriotism indicates a concurrence with Smolicz's
(1995:236-237) term of language as a core value for the two parties involved namely, those
singing the anthem in a language other than English as well as those – which include some
Spanish speakers – putting forward normative views in favour of the dominant role of English
in the United States. The involvement of some Hispanics in the normative views for English
as the language of national symbols contradicts the perception of the general public in the
1990 poll in Schmid (2001) on core characteristics of six groups in which the Hispanics were
seen to be incapable of acquiring American values. This may further be an indication of
Freindreis and Tatalovich's (1997) conclusion that the issue of core values will gain
significance and that conflict of values will increase. This claim may also be indirectly linked
to the notion of 'trust', that is, by breaking the consensus as defined in Morgan (2006:5) and
singing the anthem in a language other than English, a level of uncertainty is created between
the dominant group and those presenting an alternative representation of the anthem.
According to Seligman (1997:6-7, 16-22), uncertainty can affect trust which in turn affects the
society. This view echoes Nicolau and Validivieso's (1992:317-318) claims that pro-official
English supporters lack trust in Hispanics. In this case, there may be a further indication of
social change by means of a possible negotiation of roles related to the domains and functions
of the languages in question, since this affects the position of the speakers in the society.
The language requirements for citizenship in several examples in the data above contribute
to the construction of asymmetrical multilingualism. This may lead to language shift due to
the instrumentality of English in relation to other languages making it, in Bourdieu's terms,
the cultural capital (Bourdieu 1991:14, 30) necessary for participation in the American
society. Imposing English as a condition for citizenship as evident in some of the findings can
also be regarded as a form of acquiring/forcing contractual loyalty (Wolff 1968; Connor
2007) and defending against what Mendoza-Denton's (1999:381) study revealed, namely the
perception of lasting language loyalty of new immigrants to their mother tongue. Example
(18), exemplifies the establishment of cultural capital and legitimate competence. The use of
the word opportunity in example (12) reaffirms the position of English as the legitimate
cultural capital. Using Bourdieu's (1991) view that acqusition of capital in one field can
increase capital acquisition in another field, knowledge of English can be linked to future
accessibility of, for instance, economic capital. The emphasis in the data by the supporters of
a common shared language and elimination of foreign languages is in line with the
conservative multiculturalist view in the US as presented in McLaren (1994:45). In a wider
perspective, the situation in the United States may be related to Phillipson's criticism of some
of the European nation-states in which there is often a disregard for the sociolinguistic
landscape within the countries (Phillipson 2003:41-42).
In sum, the non-recognition of minority languages, particularly Spanish, is an issue in the
speech act of Obligation – directed towards the acquisition of English and mainly expressed
through loyalty and symbolic aspects. There is also reference to the acquisition of cultural
capital in an instrumental perspective for political inclusion through citizenship or
participation in the job market.
6.1.3 Speech act of Willingness
The speech act of Willingness is mainly marked by a view that sees usage of a language other
than English as a matter of choice. This tendency can be seen in example (29) from article 11
in USA Today:
(29) Today, AT&T has identified 2 million U.S. customers who prefer
Spanish. When they call, AT&T's computers identify their phone
numbers and automatically route them to a customer-service
representative who answers in Spanish
The use of prefer, a mental process verb, indicates choice by Spanish speakers. The
example shows that a company AT&T is making special arrangements for a particular
language group. The journalist in this extract is referring to information given by AT&T in
the article, an example of a business that has begun to provide services in Spanish since
Spanish speaking customers were frustrated and angered about not being understood or not
able to understand when they contacted the company with complaints. It is also stated in the
article that the company has not lost English-only proponents as customers. According to the
same article all the six offices of the nationwide company Better Business Bureaus that were
contacted had hired Spanish speaking staff because of population changes. Example (30) from
the same article also deals indirectly with choice from the customer given by the mental verb
expect but also includes the aim of the group U.S. English with wants:
(30) Rob Toonkel, spokesman for U.S. English, a group that wants to
preserve English because they say it plays a unifying role, says he
doesn't object to private businesses serving customers in Spanish, but
that in a nation where 300 languages are spoken, customers should not
expect or demand any language except English
The mental process verb want indicates a will or desire. The use of preserve indicates a
risk of change from an original position. Also, the Sayer Rob Toonkel (as portrayed by the
writer of the article) suggests that customers may be forcing businesses to use a language
other than English in the negative forms of the verbs not expect or demand. Example (31)
from article 12 "Migrate, then integrate" in the LA Times also focuses on choice, but from an
organisation's actions:
(31) For example, rather than expanding its appeal to U.S.-born, Englishspeaking Latinos, local public television station KCET chose to put a
Spanish-language program on the air.
The mental process verb chose indicates a conscious action by the company towards
favouring Spanish. The Sayer also acknowledges the presence of Latinos that speak English
and are born in the United States. When referring to the action by newspapers: Likewise, even
as many newspapers began to publish Spanish-language editions, their commitment to
including English-dominant Latinos in their staffs and stories flagged. The reference to
Latinos is interesting since some of the individuals may be American citizens by birth, thus
indicating one of the possible ways in which identity is constructed in the country. The author
(and Sayer in this example) of this opinion article calls for a shift of focus from immigration
to integration with, as he states: cross-ethnic ties over group-specific appeals. Furthermore,
article 19 also refers to one of the country's main accounting firms airing adverts on Spanishlanguage radio.
Example (32) in news article 3 "In a New Jersey Town, an Immigration Fight Pits Brother
Against Brother", The New York Times, the issue of choice is marked towards assimilation
and an implication of language shift:
(32) "Trying to make English the official language – what does it say to
immigrant families?" [question posed by Bryan a prominent lawyer who
is against making official English, and brother to Steve Lonegan]
"It says assimilate", Steve maintained, noting that his grandparents
would not speak Italian at home… [The Sayer is Steven Lonegan, a
Republican mayor of Bogota, N.J. who is in favour of official English].
The use of modal verb would in combination with the negative not indicates wish,
insistence or refusal. The use of an implicit imperative It says assimilate, shows power
relations and obligation in the form of an order. Furthermore, the verbal process maintained
indicates confidence, authority, and moves the responsibility and truth of the sentence away
from the journalist. The use of immigrant families indicates a group that is not part of the
collective American 'we'. The Sayers are brothers with prominent careers but holding
different views on the need for an official English policy. Steven Lonegan's answer indicates
asymmetrical use of power since his only answer involves an abandonment of the minority
culture in the word assimilate.
In example (33), article 6, The New York Times, titled "Bush Suggests Immigrants Learn
English", the journalist uses the verb urged when describing the President's speech in favour
of his immigration bill proposal:
(33) President Bush urged immigrants on Wednesday to learn English and
history and civics with the goal of "helping us remain one nation under
The verbal process urged carries the meaning of trying hard to persuade somebody to do
something and implies that immigrants need to be convinced or encouraged to learn English.
The use of the suasive verb "urge" as an indirect directive has the implication of the intention
to bring about change in the future and reduces the explicitness of asymmetrical power
relations of the participants President Bush and immigrants. Also, the use of urge holds
implicit that there is a lack of will and not a problem of ability or resources for the immigrants
to learn English.
Example (34) from article 21 in the San Francisco Chronicle "Protest could cause political
problems for backers of balanced approach" also reinforces the idea of individual choice by
relating it to the will to assimilate:
(34) Miguel Cruz, who came to the United States from Peru at age 9 and
works for the Social Security Administration, said Monday's
demonstrators "are demonstrating that they really are not immigrants.
They don't act like immigrants. They don't behave like immigrants.
Immigrants are those who came here legally and those who remain here
legally…. Immigrants are proud to be here and eager to learn English,
eager to assimilate and acculturate. Real immigrants will embrace and
obey the laws of America."
The extract carries the implication that legal immigrants described with the adjective Real
have a certain type of behaviour which includes adjectives of emotion proud, eager as well as
the mental process verb embrace as in accept or believe also indicating emotion. The material
process obey indicates doing what one is told or is required to do.
The emphasis of differences between the groups of immigrants especially since this is a
Latino referring to other immigrants entails that the boundaries and categorisation of the
Latino groups are fuzzy and their respective attitudes to adjustment into the host community
and each other differs. Thus, it is possible to state that the groups under the label of
immigrants do not see themselves as forming a homogeneous group. The Sayer refers to the
behaviour of other people i.e. of demonstrators waving Mexican flags and singing a Spanish
version of the Star-Spangled Banner which is dealt with throughout the article. The Sayer is
an immigrant from Peru, an adult indicated by this employment. One can thus assume with
approximation that he has lived a minimum of 10 years in the US. His reference to legality
also implies that he may have arrived in the US as a legal immigrant. In a related way, the
Peredas from article 14, LA Times, reflect the attitude mentioned in example (34) when they
say that they are: …determined to keep practicing. "I am not thinking of leaving this country,"
Rosa said, "so it's better that I understand the native language."
Example (35) from article 17 "House Leaders Intensify Debate on Immigration", LA
Times, deals with language use as a possible choice:
(35) A session set for July 26 is to examine the role of the English language
in U.S. society and whether the Senate measure would undermine efforts
to promote its use by immigrants
The use of the material process verb promote implies helping the progress of something, to
encourage or support something. The underlying meaning is that immigrants need
encouragement entailing that the usage of English is a matter of choice by the immigrant. The
modality would brings into focus the aspect of consequences of the measure indicated in the
rest of the sentence undermine...immigrants. The use of the verb examine in relation to the
noun role implies an acknowledgement of social change. The journalist of this news article is
also the Sayer in this example. The following extract, example (36) from article 14, LA Times,
connects language use with emotion and social change in a part of the public space, semipublic space and private space, namely where Hispanic individuals have the possibility of
using Spanish:
(36) Still, despite more than three decades in the United States, they feel
more comfortable in their native language, often speaking Spanish at
home, at work and while doing errands in their Huntington Park
In the above example there is an indication of time three decades related to language
maintenance. Also, the use of a mental verb process indicating emotion feel enhanced by the
comparative more than, more and the adjective comfortable indicates a positive feeling free
from difficulty and worry or unpleasantness. The use of the adverb of frequency often
indicating many times, at short intervals or frequently, together with the positive emotions
towards the native language, implies a voluntary choice of Spanish by the individuals. The
Sayer in this extract is the journalist of this news article although the content may be
considered as a report of the information given by the Mexican couple, referred to as they,
during her interview with them. This couple is portrayed in the article as actively trying to
learn English.
In example (37), article 12, LA Times, emotion is indirectly connected to segregation:
(37) As has happened throughout U.S. history, late-20th century immigrants
sought to recreate the sounds and smells and networks of home in their
new land. The once highly homogeneous City of Angels became
increasingly divided along not just racial but cultural and linguistic
The material process verb sought indicates a purposeful action by immigrants for minority
cultural and linguistic maintenance in the new country. The act of seeking entails looking for
something or trying to find or get something, which indicates a choice available to immigrants
as well as the image of immigrants as actively creating or choosing a situation. The Sayer in
this extract is also the writer of the opinion article from which the extract was taken and calls
for more emphasis to be paid on integration rather than immigration. In contrast to example
(37), the author of opinion article 20 in the San Francisco Chronicle claims a deep connection
to the American language by immigrants: In fact, often the passion non-natives develop for
American English is more powerful, or at least more evident, than that of native speakers.
The author here uses the noun expression In fact to introduce the following sentence as a truth
strengthening the meaning of the emotion implied by the noun passion to the new language –
American English.
The Sayer in the next example (38), is the author of opinion article 18, LA Times and his
argument for official English may imply a suggestion for solving segregation issues:
(38) These multilingual documents discourage immigrants from learning
English as rapidly as possible, limiting their ability to engage in a truly
common political culture. Rather than expanding opportunities for new
Americans, these mandates help limit them.
The use of a mental process verb discourage indicates that the issue of immigrants not
learning English is a matter of will. The absence or diminishing of interest in learning English
is caused by the accessibility to multilingual documents, justifying the argument for
monolingualism in documents.
Example (39) in article 14 develops the issue of preference with an implication for
language shift:
(39) Rumbaut co-wrote a study released last year that Mexicans and Central
Americans retain their language longer than Asians and white
Europeans but that even among Mexicans, 96% of the third generation
prefer to speak English at home.
The mental process verb prefer indicates choice by the majority of third generation
Mexicans. This preference is also an indication of possible language shift since this figure
relates to the home environment (the private sphere). The Sayer is referred to as an expert and
is introduced elsewhere in the text as a UC Irvine sociology professor. In example (40) from
the news article 21, San Francisco Chronicle, assimilation is implied and is seen as voluntary,
although there is no reference to language shift:
(40) Richardson, the New Mexico Democratic governor, who is of Mexican
heritage…Richardson also agreed that the anthem should be sung in
English. "Most immigrants want to become American," he said. "They
want to learn English. They want to be part of the American
mainstream. They wear NFL jerseys."
The repetition of the mental process verb want indicates that the knowledge of English is
related to will or desire. The Sayer in this extract holds a position of authority and is in favour
of a comprehensive immigration reform.
Example (41) is from opinion article 18 in the LA Times and relates opportunity to
language – similar to example (12) in the section of speech act of Obligation:
(41) And just as opportunity is the birthright of all native-born Americans, it
becomes the inheritance of all new Americans. But this is nothing more
than a nice sentiment if we don't encourage and help new Americans
learn English
The use of the verb becomes indicates a change of status. The copula verb "become"
describes opportunity as a quality that native-born Americans have and which is transmittable
to newcomers. The combination of becomes with the processes encourage as giving support,
confidence or hope and help implies power relations towards those the actions are directed to
and presents the actions as a matter of will. The Sayer in this extract is also the writer of the
opinion article. The Sayer argues for official English.
The Sayer in article 23 from USA Today, is against the proposed Inhofe amendment to
make English the national language of the country, and describes the interest of immigrants to
learn English in the sentence: [T]here are long waits for English classes, in which the
combination There are indicates a fact given by the noun waits qualified by the adjective long
indicating interest by immigrants and a discrepancy between supply and demand. In a similar
vein, example (42) below from opinion article 5, The New York Times, includes the
willingness of immigrants to learn English with the use of overwhelmed:
(42) People who struggle with the language don't need to be told how
important English fluency is in America. If Mr. Inhofe wanted to lavish
federal money on English-language classes, now overwhelmed with
immigrants on waiting lists, such a step would do more to advance the
cause of English and assimilation than any xenophobic amendment.
Both of the above extracts (from articles 5, and 23) are in contrast to some of the previous
examples in which immigrants are represented as needing encouragement to learn English.
The amendment referred to here was approved by the Senate (May 2006) onto the
immigration bill in which English was declared the "national language of the United States".
The use of the material process verb struggle carrying the meaning of trying to achieve
something that is difficult and overwhelmed indicating extremely large numbers together with
immigrants states a willingness by the immigrants to learn English. Also, the use of and
linking English and assimilation indicates that the goal to strive for is the maintenance of
English in its current dominant position and its use as a tool for assimilation. The use of the
modal would lays claim to a degree of certainty of outcome, namely that investment in
English classes would favour the position of English and assimilation. The Sayer is the writer
of an opinion article and is against actions that change the status of English to that of an
official language in the US. Example (43) below in the San Francisco Chronicle, titled
"English as official language" from article 20, explicitly leaves room for bilingualism:
(43) In 1988, a referendum in Florida added these lines to the state
constitution: "English is the official language of Florida…." Has
anything changed since then though? Cubans have learned English, but
haven't sacrificed their native tongue. The state is richer, more global,
than ever.
The auxiliary have lays ground for the actions linked to the acquisition of English given by
the main verb learned and also sacrificed with the meaning to lose or give something up for
the sake of something more important and valuable. This construction contradicts the
ideological views of either/or in the society but maintains the implication of a hegemonic
positioning of English. This is emphasised by the conjunction but indicating contrast. The
immigrants, i.e. Cubans (singled out among Hispanics) become bilingual rather than
experiencing language shift.
The presence of English alongside another language is categorically described by the use
of the present tense of the relational process verb is in a positive adjective richer and a
comparative adverb more steering the interpretation of the adjective global. The use of the
adverb of time ever (with the comparative more…than) indicates a new situation i.e. a social
change process through comparison to a time before the moment of writing. This extract is
part of an opinion article in which the author is against official English measures.
Example (44), article 13, San Francisco Chronicle, is another example of the willingness
and the possibility of new Hispanic citizens maintaining Spanish but at the same time learning
English, although the Sayer's identity inclination is towards English:
(44) I speak Spanish still and am proud of it. But English is my language
now, the Stars and Stripes is my flag and the United States is my
The use of the conjunction But indicates a contrast that although the speaker is bilingual
indicated by the adverb of time still, only one national loyalty and identity is possible in the
use of the time adverb now combined with the possessive determiner my. The Sayer is Ed
Lucha a legal immigrant in the US since the age of 12 having arrived 42 years ago in the
country. His comment is included in an opinion article in which views sent by legal
immigrants were included. Ed Lucha is described as a person whose embrace of his new
homeland and service to his country speak volumes about the meaning of true citizenship. The
author of this article called for a stop on illegal immigration and criticises the May Day
Summary and further considerations: speech act of Willingness
The speech act of Willingness is related to issues of identification, primarily as a conscious
and voluntary act towards group identification and demonstrations of contractual loyalty.
Multilingualism and concerns about language acquisition patterns dealing with the
relationships between groups by the expressions of willingness to learn English or the effect
of societal structures on language acquisition are visible. The possibility of using a language
other than English in the economy is also included. In this speech act the usage of a particular
language is marked by a notion of choice (cf. Spolsky's (2004) emphasis on individual
Examples (34) and (40) indicate group identification in line with Le Page and TabouretKeller's (1985) view, which in the case of these examples, is a voluntary cultural and
language shift towards assimilation by certain immigrants given in words such as eager and
want. However, this aspect is contrasted with the negative views of supporters of the
movement for Americanisation in Gonzalez and Melis' (2001:47) and Tollefson's (1991:110)
studies. The pro-official English supporters in these studies claim that new immigrants are not
keen on learning English. This factor can be related to Weber's idea of the 'nation' as pathos
expressed by a shared language or other common unifying features (Weber 1997:26) which
allow identification and links to loyalty. The possibility of desiring to assimilate or becoming
an American in these examples also relates to Fishman's (1999:154) notion of linguistic
identity being constructed and that in situations of conflict – in this study, the threat of
Spanish – this identity may have varying degrees of intensity since languages are used to
express loyalty through uniting 'us' against 'them'. In example (34) there is a reference to
Otherness by making distinctions between immigrant groups based on their desire to
assimilate. Departing from Petersson (2003:6), the 'them' are portrayed in a dichotomising
relationship and positioned as enemies and through which, using Dixon and Simpson's
meaning, identification of loyalty expressed through language as a boundary marker may lead
to conflict (Dixon and Simpson 1994:1959) between groups. Thus language is linked to what
an American is, as concluded in Schildkraut's (2005:4-5) study. Examples (34) and (40) are
ways of transferring or redirecting the negative stereotypes of immigrants to specific groups
e.g. by emphasising the difference between legal and illegal immigrants, which also indicates
an attempt to negotiate representation in what Appiah (2005:66) describes as available labels
of identities. The different uses of immigrants and new Americans in examples (32-33), (35),
(37-38), and (40-42) are in contrast to the specificity by implication of example (34)
distinguishing the type of legality of the immigrant in relation to their will to assimilate, and
in examples (36), (39), and (43-44) referring to the Hispanic origin of the immigrant –
although example (39) also mentions other groups. This may be related to McLaren's
(1994:55-58) portrayal of the struggles of power in critical multiculturalism and the notion
that signs and significations are unstable, although in this case, the primary term creating the
hierarchy of dependence is stable and distinguished by desirability, namely the notion of
being an 'American' by means of the English language.
Example (39) further reflects Fishman's (1972) description of language shift in which the
individual substitutes the original language in which they socialise in the private sphere,
moving completely away from bilingualism – in this case, the shift is towards English. This is
in contrast with the choice by customers in example (29) to use Spanish and the supply by
companies of services in a language other than English – also present in example (31). In
examples (43-44) an intrinsic value to language is implied by using the verb sacrificed and the
adjective proud in combination with the adverb of time still and the present indication of
possession is my. The relational verb is indicates a static condition. Thus, although language
acquisition takes place, a static situation of linguistic identity is perceived by the individual.
Moreover, example (44) indicates the possibility of a shift in the emotional adherence of the
immigrant towards the host country, and is thus a membership based on a bilingual
individual's own identification as suggested by Moerman's (1965) term 'emic'. Example (44)
reflects a change in the identity allegiance of the bilingual individual, which is in accordance
with Appiah's (2005:64) study where allegiances of identification are claimed as constructed.
Example (36) carries the implication of ethnic affinity expressed through 'pathos' (Weber
1997:18 – although it is not used in this example at a national level) to a speech community in
a preference to use Spanish in the Hispanic couple's neighbourhood. This is also present in
example (37) in the reconstruction of the immigrants' home country. The use of their first
language may be perceived by the majority speakers of English as a demonstration of
language loyalty (see also Mendoza-Denton 1999:381) to their minority language and a
perception of absence of loyalty to the US in a dichotomised understanding of loyalty.
Bolinger's notion of security may characterise the behaviour of preference to use Spanish in
examples (36-37). Examples (36), (39-40) and (44) regarding preferences, however, need to
be interpreted with regard to the difference between language attitude and language behaviour
if one bears in mind Nelde's (1997:288) view that perceptions of language loyalty and prestige
may affect answers to surveys and interviews whether conscious or unconscious.
The relationship between the use of Spanish in the economic market and the existence of a
community that is functioning in Spanish in examples (29), (31) and (36-37) can be related
Edwards' (1985:49) statement that the fate of a language and its speakers is linked to the
situation of the speakers in the particular society. In the case of the Spanish speakers, these
may be seen as established in the United States by virtue of their large numbers. The
appearance of separate speech communities causes fears of fragmentation which are
expressed in views that coincide with MacKaye's (1990) study of the notion of English as a
bond (see also Crystal 1997:122-130).
Furthermore, examples (34) and (40), and to a certain degree example (44), demonstrate
expressions of what Wolff (1968) and Connor (2007) define as contractual loyalty to the
nation, thereby loyalty needs to be outwardly visible and provides a basis for defining the
Other. Thus those that are loyal make prominent their acquisition of the necessary cultural
capital and the legitimate competence. The idea of assimilation expressed in examples (34)
and indirectly in (40), as well as access to opportunities in examples (38) and (41) links
cultural capital to the attainment of social capital, as defined by Bourdieu (1991:14, 30, 56;
see also Mesthrie and Deumert 2000:343), through language which allows the possibility of
creating relationships with others e.g. through participation in a common political culture or
belonging to the mainstream thus forming part of Anderson's (1991:6-7) notion of an
'imagined community'.
Examples (33) and (35) indicate a possibility of choice among immigrants to either learn
or not learn English which to a certain extent differs from what Kymlicka describes as the
expectation that immigrants will integrate into the target country and learn the language for
citizenship (Kymlicka 2002:353-355). Although example (42) confirms the adherence of
immigrants to the expectations of learning English, it also adds the aspect of fluency, which is
linked to Bourdieu's (1991:17) concept of the 'linguistic market', in the sense that, in a
multilingual society, it may not be sufficient to acquire the language but once acquired one
then enters the issue of linguistic and communicative competence of the individual to produce
valued expressions in particular linguistic markets.
There is further an indication that asymmetrical multilingualism as defined by Clyne
(1997:306) exists in examples (38) and (41-42). The hegemonic position of English is
however, challenged in two ways. Firstly, in the direction of domain sharing in the public
space, semi-public space and private space as evidenced in examples (29), (31) and, (36), and
secondly, there is a need to emphasise the perception of willingness of immigrants to choose
to learn English as visible in examples (33) and (35). The verbal process urged in example
(33), and also examples (34) and (40) emphasising assimilation, are further linked to Hymes'
(1974:120) notion of 'speech community' expressed in the speech event, in this case that the
speech event, following certain rules of use and repertoires of ways of speaking, takes place
within a contextual perception that certain immigrants are not voluntarily acquiring English
and that their presence is creating new rules of use. Thus, there is an expansion of the domains
in which the immigrants' language is used, in this case mainly Spanish, and also creating what
Duranti (1997:76-78) refers to as alternative norms of resistance to the official variety and
constructing parallel identities based on a language as a symbol of ethnic identity. Example
(43) adds the global dimension to the local market. Further, example (43) also expresses
Salzmann's (1993:194) possibility of the individual belonging to several speech communities.
The example allows for bilingualism as a positive alternative to the ideals of assimilation and
language shift in the country.
The above focus of language acquisition based on individual choice is in line with the
liberal view of multiculturalism (cf. Spolsky 2004). However, example (38) may be said to
reflect a view of the individual as a product of the environment and social practices, which
can be seen as an argument that underlies many of the reasons for establishing official
Finally, threat scenarios based on uncertainty (Nelde 1987:607) are presented in examples
(33) and (38) expressing the prospect of a possible loss of cohesion and participation caused
by immigrants not acquiring English. These threats may also be associated to Taylor's politics
of recognition (Taylor 1994a), although applied to the majority. In other words, examples (33)
and (38) make an appeal for recognition of values that give them a sense of identity and
belonging. Thus the immigrant speakers are seen to be in a position to alter their behaviour –
especially in example (33) – and "recognise" the culture of the dominant host society.
However a further threat may exist if one takes account of Dixon and Simpson's (1994:1957)
view that one language variety – or language – is put forward as the only means of social
mobility, as expressed in the use of opportunities and opportunity in examples (38) and (41).
The larger minority groups may choose to resist this linguistic domination – an action which
may lead to the expansion of the functions of their immigrant language in the society, as in
examples (29), (31) and (36), but also result in a political language conflict whereby the issue
of immigration is vocalised as dependent on the establishment of official English (cf. example
(23) in the section speech act of Obligation).
6.1.4 Speech act of Help
The speech act of Help is mainly characterised by power relations of givers and receivers.
Nearly all examples in this section involve some form of the verb help.
Example (45) from opinion article 18, in the LA Times, reflects the above relations:
(45) And just as opportunity is the birthright of all native-born Americans, it
becomes the inheritance of all new Americans. But this is nothing more
than a nice sentiment if we don't encourage and help new Americans
learn English
The use of the verb help implies power relations towards those the actions are directed to.
The verb is used in the meaning of assisting a group new Americans. Also, the use of we
creates proximity between the reader and the author of the article and unites both in the
proposal put forward. The adjective new indicates a boundary since it carries the implicature
of the existence of "old" Americans. The Sayer of this extract is also the author of the opinion
article from which it was taken. The Sayer is in favour of official English measures. This
example can be linked by implicature to the message given by President Bush in article 6
published in The New York Times in which he describes that for a fair and orderly
immigration system it is necessary to: reach out and help people assimilate into our
country….That means learn the values and history and language of America.
The Sayer of the next example (46) from opinion article 7 in USA Today, is also the author
of the article – Lisa Navarrete, vice president of the National Council of La Raza, an
organisation she describes as deeply engaged in the process of integrating immigrants into
American society. The organisation opposes Sen. Inhofe's amendment to make English the
national language. It is interesting that although campaigning for different ends, she also uses
the verb help:
(46) There is no question that English is the language of this nation and that
we must do everything we can to help immigrants make the adjustment
to English
The material process verb help indicates power relations in between those that "give" and
constitute the we – a group that includes the reader and Sayer – and those that receive, namely
immigrants. The use of help carries positive connotations in the sense of assisting immigrants
or making circumstances easier for them. The connotations of power related to the giver are
further accentuated by the modal can which indicates ability. The use of the adverb There in
combination with the verb "be" in the present form is, as well as the idiom no question
indicating no possibility, may contribute to naturalising the notion of only one language being
permissible in the country. This is also emphasised by the relational process verb is and the
definite article in English is the, even though it may be argued that this is not the aim of the
speaker, since she is part of an organisation that is against the Inhofe amendment. Example
(47) is from the same article as extract (46):
(47) …but those of us who work every day to help immigrants learn English
believe his amendment is bad public policy, and should never become
The position of immigrants as receivers in the material process help places power in
relation to the us who are in the position of givers. In this sense the word help is used to assist,
make easier the acquisition of English. The adjective bad indicates the direction of emotion
and value judgment of the Sayer foregrounded by the modal should. The Sayer is Lisa
Navarrete an opponent of the amendment declaring English the national language.
Example (48), news article 9 13 , "English as official language gains support at local levels"
is part of the lead/introduction of the article and is in a statement made by two pro-official
supporters referred to as Backers, which to the reader may signal more than two individuals:
(48) Backers say laws help immigrants to communicate, avoid selfsegregation
The use of the material verb process help…to communicate implies immigrants as
receivers and incapable of using language to send out messages and therefore requiring
assistance. It is possible to assume that the verb process is not used in terms of making
something easier, if the act of being able to communicate and – even segregation – are
absolute conditions. It is not possible to state that there is explicit reference to whether
helping to communicate would avoid self-segregation over time or whether these events
would occur simultaneously based on the act of helping. This is the lead/introduction in a
news article by a reporter who has combined quotes from two different sources namely that of
Councilman Paul Chamberlain who says that making English official in Taneytown will not
make great differences since the town does not supply services in Spanish. He says: We will
be helping immigrants learn the English language and not segregate into different
communities. This quote is combined with the following statement made by Arizona State
Rep. Russell Pearce of Mesa who says that official English is part of us doing our job to help
(immigrants) learn to communicate. Government has an obligation to promote and enhance
English…to help people assimilate. These two quotes are further commented below. Example
(49) below from the same article as example (48) shows one of the quotes that form the
lead/introduction in article 9:
Example (48) is included due to the presence of the verb communicate which implies the presence of a
(49) Councilman Paul Chamberlain…"We will be helping immigrants learn
the English language and not segregate into different communities," he
The use of the material process helping...learn places immigrants in the role of receivers
and We as agents – thus doers. The use of help here is less absolute than in the previous
example and allows room for the ability to communicate and may therefore also mean to
make something easier. The focus is on two goals in which the first goal – learning English –
allows the second goal – no segregation. The Sayer occupies a position of authority and there
is indication that he is in favour of official English since he is also reported to have said in the
same article that the law will make "no practical change" because Taneytown does not
provide services in Spanish. The idea of a lack of a shared language forming an obstacle for
intergroup relations is also taken up in article 16 in which the LA Times journalist describes
black American and Latino day labourers: Blacks mingled with blacks, Latinos with Latinos -- a social segregation that is mostly the result of the language barrier. The function of
language as a barrier is further qualified in article 9 as an either/or situation for
communication in which power relations are taken up using our in opposition to immigrants
in combination with help as an act of responsibility connected to duty expressed in job in the
extract: Arizona State Rep, Russell Pearce of Mesa calls official English "part of us doing our
job to help (immigrants) learn to communicate."
In example (50) from article 8 in USA Today "Push for 'official' English heats up" there is
an implication that the English-only ordinance is for the benefit of non-English speaking
individuals in the country:
(50) "We make it easy for people to come (to the USA) and never speak
English", says Lois Barletta, mayor of Hazleton, Pa., which passed an
English-only ordinance last month. "We think we're helping them, but
we're not."
The use of the material process helping places immigrants as passive and We as agents,
thus doers. The action itself may be seen as the goal in this extract. The present continuous
indicates an ongoing situation. Also the implication is that English-only is the way to support
immigrants. The Sayer is in favour of official English and is further reported as saying that the
measures are not anti-immigrant. The view of benefiting immigrants by establishing Englishonly is also taken up in article 4, published in The New York Times in which a town board
member, Mr Miralgia described his proposal for an English-only ordinance as a measure that:
…only benefits people who come here to learn English because they want to be part of the
community. If you and I were speaking, how would we communicate if we didn't have a
common language? And our common language is English.
The risk of fragmentation due to societal multilingualism is present in the following
example (51) from article 6 in The New York Times. Examples (48) and (49) above from
articles 7 and 9 respectively also deal with the possibility of division, namely segregation
which can be related to President Bush's appeal in the example below:
(51) President Bush urged immigrants on Wednesday to learn English and
history and civics with the goal of "helping us remain one nation under
The use of the present continuous helping indicates an ongoing situation and applies
pressure on immigrants since if they do not fulfil or take on the recommendations of the
President, they may be classified as uncooperative or unwilling to accept help. The use of help
here puts more pressure on the end result – to make something happen, namely to keep a form
of unity. This may be significant for ideological reasons since it may affect the attitudes of the
citizens in the US as regards their tolerance of immigrants. The Sayer has behind him the
authority and trustworthiness that comes with holding the post of President. A concrete
example of immigrants as receivers is further given in this article in which President Bush is
described as meeting immigrants in a Catholic Charity organisation, Juan Diego Center that
provides assistance e.g. business loans to immigrants that are learning English. President Bush
used this visit to: …feature immigrant business owners and further clarifies: When you hear
people like me talking about assimilation…that's what we're talking about…. President Bush
thus explicitly links assimilation to language learning which in turn is vital for eligibility for a
business loan. The idea of immigrants not learning English is also taken up in article 14, LA
Times, where experts are included to confirm that traditional patterns of assimilation are still
valid, although there is widespread perception that Latino immigrants do not assimilate and
that their large numbers are a threat to the English language.
Example (52) in opinion article 10 "Our language unites us" in the USA Today has the
same implication of social advancement:
(52) Unite America behind our proud national language, help new
immigrants advance by learning it….
The use of the imperative mood and a material process verb help…advance place
immigrants as receivers and serves as a call, characterised by an underlying patriotism in the
use of the collective our proud national and the imperative Unite. Also, advancement is tied
to the national language as well as positioned as a result of the assistance received. There are
distinctions between immigrants with an implication that there are "old" immigrants as a
result of the use of the adjective new to describe immigrants. The Sayer is Sen. Inhofe that has
pushed forward an amendment to the immigration bill under discussion in the Senate
proposing the declaration of English as the national language of the country. In article 22,
Democrat Senator Hilary Clinton defined the difference between English as a national
language and as an official language and declared that she supports the former. In the same
article, a French-English bilingual former Senator reaffirmed that English is the language of
the country. Democrat Sen. Obama, also in article 22, claimed that the question regarding
which language status intervention to support was intended to divide the American people and
saw the issue as separate from the immigration debate. These references in opinion article 22
are in reported speech and therefore may not reflect the exact words used by the politicians.
Example (53) in article 24 shows the consequences of the national language amendment
and is in contrast to the results proposed in examples (50) and (52):
(53) Asked the measure's impact, an Inhofe aide offered this example: The
White House website would no longer have to translate presidential
speeches into Spanish. Quips about President Bush's command of
English aside, leaving newcomers in the dark about presidential
pronouncements is hardly a way to help them learn more about their
adopted home
The modal would indicates the probability of a consequence of an event that has not yet
occurred i.e. the Senate measure sponsored by Sen. Inhofe, R-Okla., declaring that all federal
services can only be given in English unless otherwise stated by law. The use of the material
process verb help is part of the opinion of the author of the article as a reaction to the
comment made by the aide. The implication given by the author is that it is necessary to use
foreign languages in order to supply information about the US to immigrants. The explicit
reference to Spanish indicates its significance in the country. The Sayers in this extract are
two, the aide that is in favour of declaring English as a national language since he works for
the senator who proposed the amendment, and the Sayer who is the author of the opinion
article in question and who is not in favour of the measure proposed. The speech act of Help
was used by the author of the article.
Summary and further considerations: speech act of Help
The speech act of Help has a focus on the integration of immigrants into the nation. Of
significance is that only one verb in its different forms is present in this section and was
therefore included as a separate section since it fulfils the criteria of repetition (see section 5).
The use of the verb "to help" carries an implication of power relations between the groups, i.e.
immigrants as receivers of help and the dominant group as establishing the conditions of the
help to be imposed.
As regards integration into the state, examples (48-50) may be interpreted as a criticism of
those not assimilating, in line with new racism through an indirect negative reference to the
formation of separate communities as a form of segregation. This may be related to May's
(2005) claim that a shared language permits the capacity to identify with others speaking the
same language, in this case English, the language of the dominant group. The inclusion of the
verb help lends a positive implication, thus allowing room for the criticism of those who are
seen to choose not to accept this support. Examples (51-52) indicate a tendency to see
language as significant for the maintenance of a united country. In a similar way, MacKaye
(1990) states that the view of English as a common bond is held by both proponents and
opponents of Proposition 63 – aimed to make English the official language of California.
Examples (51-52) are in line with nationalisms based on rationalist approaches in which
language has a central role for identity building rather than ethnicity (example (51) further
claims assimilation in the remainder of the article, which as a process involves other factors
alongside language acquisition). Thus, the English language represents in this case "the
American", and it also forms a core value, using Smolicz's (1995) term, for the identity of the
multilingual community. This is similar to Gonzalez and Melis' (2001:47) findings indicating
an implied underlying link between acquisition of English and the process of
Americanisation. English in the country serves as an identity marker, and to some extent as a
communication tool, that prevents fragmentation as indicated in examples (46), (48-49), and
(51-52). The identifying role of English in the United States, in the above examples may be
said to be similar to the views of conservative multiculturalists, as given by McLaren (1994),
with their focus on a common culture based on euro-American norms and the role of English
as the official language, in this case, also as the national language of the country. The use of
the verb help in these examples places the immigrant as either a friend or an enemy of the
state, in the sense that if the immigrant does not learn English and accept the assistance
provided in the form proposed, then they will contribute to the fragmentation of the state.
Assimilation is the underlying ideology, implicitly expressed in example (46) focusing on
the adjustment of immigrants, example (50) with its reference to the English-only ordinance,
example (51) on the maintenance of one nation based implicitly on the nineteenth century
model of monolingualism, and example (53), which excludes those that do not know English
from political participation and, which according to Skutnabb-Kangas, Phillipson and Rannut
(1995:3), is a step towards linguistic and cultural assimilation by not granting minority rights.
The focus of using English as a communicative tool to avoid segregation in examples (4849) may be seen as attempts to form a single speech community as defined by Mesthrie
(2000:38), namely frequent contact between same language speakers who share ways of
interpreting language usage. Also, the inclusion of new groups in the communicative
activities allows for a dynamic view of speech communities. Example (53) may be a way of
enforcing a speech community by motivating people to learn English for security reasons
since they are excluded from political information, presidential announcements and
consequently political participation, which may affect them (Bolinger 1975:333 also refers to
security as a motive for group formations) in their everyday life. The use of the verb help in
this example is a criticism of the monolingual measure and also allows room for an active role
for the immigrant.
In addition, there is an expression of loyalty linked to the use of the verb help in example
(46) in which national loyalty may be implicitly linked to a common language, among other
factors (Connor 2007:77). The expression of loyalty is made possible by the existence of the
immigrant as the Other (Connor 2007) and their need for help in learning the language for
maintenance of what Anderson terms the 'imagined community' (Anderson 1991:6-7), in this
case, of the United States.
Furthermore, examples (48-49) include the assumption that the acquisition of English as a
cultural capital will be converted to social capital as defined by Bourdieu (1991:14, 30; see
also Mesthrie and Deumert 2000:343) which in turn will avoid fragmentation into segregated
communities as perceived by attitudes in the aforementioned examples. The use of the verb
help may also be seen as a sign of the central role of English in the American society.
However, the fact that it is combined with segregation activities also implies a threat of
change in the circumstances of its hegemonic position. This means that the cultural and social
capital within these communities may be provided by a language other than English, a
situation which carries an indication of social change. This social change is particularly
visible in example (50), in which the use of help may be questioned as regards to whether it is
the dominant group that needs assistance to avoid a change in the language situation.
An interesting factor is the reference to the recency of immigrants in examples (45) and
(52-53) as a way of distinguishing the group of individuals in need of help. Using Appiah's
perspective on identity through available labels, it is possible to say that the other examples
include an implication of stereotyping all immigrants as responsible for creating segregated
communities (Appiah 2005:66-69). This can also be linked to Mendoza-Denton's (1999:381)
study in which new immigrants are perceived as having considerable language loyalty to their
native language.
In sum, it is possible to state that the speech act of Help reinforces the recognition that
English is the dominant language in the country. The repetition of "help" indicates power
relations between groups and a particular moral frame from which these relations are
approached. However, although acquisition of English is emphasised, there is also an
underlying implication that immigrants are not learning the language as expected and that
separate communities are being formed by them.
6.1.5 Speech act of English as Unifier
The speech act of English as Unifier focuses on the construction of a nation. Language is
portrayed as a feature that maintains the country's characteristics and at the same time allows
for national cohesion to be strengthened and reconstructed through immigrant English
language acquisition. Example (54) from opinion article 18, LA times refers to language as the
upholder of the country:
(54) More important, it is the language of our national unity and political
The relational clause serves to identify English, through the use of anaphoric it, as having
a unique characteristic among other languages in the country namely that of representing
national unity. The relational process verb is suggests a present characteristic that by virtue of
belonging in a relational clause indicates a static condition. Also, the use of the possessive
determiner our creates proximity between the writer and reader and the adverbial phrase more
important steers the reader to the same view of the author. The Sayer of this extract is in
favour of the official English measure and is also the author of the opinion article in which
this example is written. In comparison, the Sayer in opinion article 23 uses a sarcastic tone to
refer to the claimed need to enforce English-only as a way of maintaining the idea of the
nation: Who knew that we – meaning the great melting pot nation of America – have been
living on borrowed time for the past few centuries by not strictly enforcing an English-only
rule. Example (55) is the headline of article 10 in USA Today and gives language the role of
maintainer of essential characteristics:
(55) Our language unites us
Language as a uniting factor is presented in the headline as a general truth using the
simple present in the use of the material process verb unites. Also, the use of the plural
personal pronoun us enhances the perception of group belonging created by the possessive
determiner our. In this extract language is presented as capable of agency, namely of uniting.
The Sayer is Sen. Inhofe who is responsible for proposing the amendment to declare English
as the national language.
Example (56) in the same opinion article as example (55) above in this section gives
language the role of solidifier of the country; therefore language is capable of making the idea
of nation stronger, fixed and unlikely to change. In other words language can reconstruct the
country by strengthening its cohesion:
(56) This nation decided long ago that you must know English to become a
citizen. Thus there is no reason to offer government's citizen services in
foreign languages.
In the same way the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem
bring this nation together, English is something we share and should
promote. Yet Senate liberals voted against English as our national
language and against the will of our constituents
The material process verb and the adverb in the combination bring…together and the
lexical choices Allegiance, National, we share refer to unity. The modality of obligation
should indicates the subjective attitude, which the speaker is including as part of the opinion
of the collective 'we', thus representing the voice of the group which is characterised by will
representing the wishes of the American people. Sen. Inhofe is the Sayer of this extract and
the author of the opinion article from which this example is taken. Sen. Inhofe is in favour of
English as a national language. An opposing view is given in article 20 where the author
refers to the absence of the word "official" in the Constitution and says that America has
managed to thrive as a united frame of mind for millions of people with roots everywhere on
the globe – thus invoking a continuation of American unity that exists beyond declaring
English as the official language. The author in article 20 further calls the movement and the
arguments that include the view of language as ours, an attempt for seal of ownership.
Example (57) below from article 10 is another indication of the perception of the active
role of language for maintaining and creating state cohesion:
(57) Unite America behind our proud national language
The imperative form Unite indicates power relations and a naturalisation of the relation
between language and country carried by the collective our with underlying implications of
patriotism, presupposed by the adjective proud used to modify national language. Sen. Inhofe
is the Sayer in this example and is a proponent of English as a national language amendment
to be attached to the immigration bill. Article 6 in The New York Times gives a description of
the bill making explicit the difference between declaring a national or official language,
although not providing details how they differ in implementation: …the Senate bill that
directs the federal government to "preserve and enhance the role of English as the national
language"….It falls short of the goals of a more controversial movement to make English the
official language.
Article 23 "Crime! Terrorism! Foreign languages", example (58) relates as intrinsically
linked a symbolic feature of nation state, namely the National Anthem to language:
(58) President Bush even said last week that they [anaphoric reference to
immigrants] should sing the National Anthem in English so we don't
"lose our national soul"….Forget terrorism. Pundits and politicians
insist that the greatest security threat to the United States is the influx of
Spanish speakers from across the border with Mexico
The negative purpose clause with so marks the identity of the collective's soul as
dependent on the language in which the National Anthem is sung, thus possibly creating a
dependency to the relationship one nation–one language, in which the former is dependent on
the latter. The opinion writer of this article refers to the need for a symbol of national identity
and he indicates that English should take that role since most people speak it and ambiguously
adds that it's probably pretty close to what "American" would sound like if we hadn't been
British colonies originally. The aspect of English as important for unity is also taken up in
article 21 in which Republican Senator Alexander, reacting to the release of the Star Spangled
Banner in Spanish, put forward a bill proposing …to make the national anthem and other
"statements of national unity" officially English.
The cohesion marker they and the relational clause is in example (58) describe the threat
as particularly related to Spanish speakers. The reported speech markers are directly attributed
to figures of authority and, in the case of President Bush, the modal of obligation should is
used. The link between the modal should indicating what is right and wrong is closely tied to
an existential threat lose our national soul through the use of the consequence conjunction so
(with ellipsis of that to introduce the next following clause). The reference of language to the
national soul is attributed to President Bush but the example is integrated in an opinion article
in which it is difficult to discern whether the author is for or against declaring English the
official language of the country due to the tone of the article.
The following example (59) from opinion article 20, also deals with the presence of
immigrants but presents two roles for language. Firstly, language is represented as having a
cohesive agency. Secondly, language is presented as a proof of citizenship, i.e. if you are an
American you are successfully assimilated through language. This second view allows for
new individuals – with different languages – to be included in the country thus changing its
composition but at the same claiming that nothing has changed because they have learnt the
language and are therefore now Americans:
(59) The proponents behind the measure contend that …newcomers to the
United States aren't learning English as quickly as previous groups. The
result, they believe, is a fracture in the collective identity, that threatens
to Balkanize the nation. They invoke the words of Theodore Roosevelt,
a kind of superhero to President Bush, who famously stated: "We have
one language here, and that is the English language, and we intend to
see that the [assimilation] crucible turns our people out as Americans."
The role of English and the measure to make it official are presented as necessary to
guarantee the process of Americanisation of the immigrants in which the crucible (a pot in
which metals are melted thus holding implications to the notion of the melting pot) is
indicated as a means of assimilation through language. Also, the crucible indicates that the
possibility of becoming an American is not described as an intrinsic factor but rather as
something socially constructed through language. The threat to unity is indicated in the noun
fracture and the material process verbs threatens to balkanize. The Sayers in this extract are
the proponents of official English (given by the proponents, they), President Roosevelt and by
indirect reference President Bush. Several groups of words have been emphasised in this
extract since they constitute the different repetitions of the same message in a very short text,
namely that of unity. The author of the article uses this reference to build up his argument
against official English. The Sayer, Mr. Miralgia, who is a board member of the town of
Pahrump and therefore may been seen as a figure of authority, in example (60) below from
article 4 "Stars and Strife: Flag Rule Splits Town" in The New York Times, uses the same
argument that the author of example (59) above refers critically to:
(60) Mr Miralgia said that the English Language and Patriot Reaffirmation
Ordinance, as he called it, was intended to bring the community
together under a common language and custom.
The use of the material process verb and the adverb bring…together indicates the uniting
role of English for the community. Also, the coordinator and interchangeably links English
with the Patriot Reaffirmation Ordinance and custom in the sentence. The constructive
capacity given to language is again referred to in example (61), article 5 "Press One for
English", The New York Times:
(61) Senator Ken Salazar, Democrat of Colorado, offered an amendment
asserting, nonbindingly, that English is the language that unites us all.
The relational process verb is implies a static condition, and the present tense in the verbs
is and unites imply factuality. The use of the material process verb unites in combination with
the personal pronoun us and the indefinite pronoun all indicates an inclusion of all the
language groups in the US. This may be ideologically significant since the categorical use of
is implies a naturalised condition of English as dominant and an implication that it is actively
viewed as such by the use of the present tense unites and that it is accepted by all language
groups in the country. The Sayer is Sen. Salazar but it should be noted that the extract is in
reported speech and not his exact words.
Example (62) from article 1 "Immigration Bill Backed in Senate, Setting up Clash" in The
New York Times shows the measures that can be taken to strengthen the position of a language
in a country:
(62) Under the Senate agreement, illegal immigrants who have lived in the
United States for five years or more, about seven million people, would
eventually be granted citizenship if they remained employed, passed
background checks, paid fines and back taxes, and enrolled in English
The use of the conditional if indicates English classes used as a means for obtaining
citizenship. Also, power relationships between the groups are reinforced by the verb choice be
granted, carrying a relational process reinforced by the conditional if. The link between
citizenship and language indicates the role of English for membership into the state thus
making it a base for communication between citizens. Article 6 in The New York Times also
gives a description of the Senate measure for granting illegal immigrants citizenship in the
terms: …so long as they work, pay taxes and learn English.
However, in example (62) above, the use of the modality of probability would in
combination with eventually increases the uncertainty for the illegal immigrants implying that
even if they did meet the requirements of the Senate agreement there is still no guarantee of
citizenship. This is emphasised by the indefinite length of time connected to their acquisition
of citizenship and thus entailing power relations. The category "illegal immigrants" covered
by the Senate agreement is narrowed by the use of the relative pronoun who to those that have
lived in the US for a certain number of years. The agent is partly hidden in the construction of
the sentence and responsibility for the agreement is given to the political collective entity, the
Senate. In this extract, the content is not in quotation marks and therefore the choice of words
can be attributed to the journalist.
Example (63) from article 20, confirms the view given by the proponents of official
English in many of the examples above, namely that English is the language of the country by
referring to its essential role foundation. It is worth noting that the Sayer in the extract is the
author of this opinion article and is against official English measures:
(63) I've never come across an immigrant, recently arrived or in the United
States for decades, who doesn't perceive English as the foundation for
life in America.
The use of the noun foundation refers to a principle, an idea or a fact on which something
– in this case life in America – is based on. Also, the adverb of time indicating frequency
never in combination with the phrasal verb come across emphasises the perception of the
significance of English in the country as factual.
The attitudes of the immigrants as accepting the position of English in the US is
generalised as representing the whole group through elaboration by referring to the duration
of time in the US, recently and for decades since the author uses the negative adverb never
thus eliminating the threat posed by immigrants. The use of the mental verb perceive as
regards immigrants empowers them as a group. There is an indication of the indisputable and
exclusive role of English in the society, thus indicating a hegemonic status in relation to other
languages. In this case, the English language is represented as a fact in the construction of
English as the foundation for life in America. Example (64) below from opinion article 7
published in the USA Today links the view of language to patriotism with the use of the
oppositional prefix anti- indicating a dichotomising attitude strengthened by the verb assert
that can be extended to loyalty to the country:
(64) Sen. James Inhofe, T-Okla., asserted that those who oppose his
amendment to make English the national language are somehow antiEnglish
The verb assert contributes to naturalise the notion of dichotomy since it indicates
confidence and firm belief, and may function to indicate common sense. It is unclear whether
the noun English following the prefix anti- refers to the language itself or whether there is a
wider implication towards Anglo-Saxon dominance. The Sayer is Lisa Navarrete, vice
president of the National Council of La Raza. The organisation opposes the Inhofe
Summary and further considerations: speech act of English as Unifier
The speech act of English as Unifier is based on the importance of English for the unity of the
country and is mainly referred to as a carrying feature of the construction of what Anderson
(1991:6-7) calls the 'imagined community'. In these examples, attitudes to language can be
related to Pavlenko and Blackledge's (2003:2; see also MacKaye 1990) statement that
language is used to mark national identity and also takes the function of symbolic capital. A
further aspect is the relation of unity to loyalty and trust based on a negotiation of values in an
unequal situation, in which demonstrations and judgments of trust are based on dominant
cultures expectations of immigrant identification to the host country.
The projection of an image (Ager 2001:74-75) of English as the only possible means of
uniting the country and as such, a fundamental part of what Kymlicka refers to as the nation
building process and the creation of a societal culture (Kymlicka 2002:344-347), is put
forward in two ways. The first is an approach in which language is presented as the central
identifying feature, mainly in examples (54-55) and (61), as well as indirectly in example
(62), rather than related to processes of assimilation, ethnicity and homogeneity (Ager 2001).
The second approach relies on symbols of patriotic expressions as visible in examples (5658), (60) and indirectly in examples (59) and (64) – i.e. the reference of becoming Americans
and with the use of anti-English – in which, as McKaye and Crystal state, language is a
guarantor to the continuation of the state due to its unifying strength (MacKaye 1990; Crystal
1997:122-130). Together the visions naturalise the existence of asymmetrical multilingualism
as described by Clyne (1997:306) and the construction of linguistic consent to public
homogeneousness which can by extension be related to Phillipson's (2003:58) claim that
cultural and linguistic homogeneity is a non-existent characteristic of a state. Example (59)
indicates the threat of fragmentation and also carries the implication that attributing minority
rights is dangerous to the unity of the country. There is also an element of interdiscursivity in
the use of the term Balkanize. Example (63) indicates English as a base of the country and
carries the assumption that it is the only language that can fulfil that function due to the
figurative link to the field of construction in foundation. Example (64) is also linked to
example (63), in which patriotism is given as only possible through dichotomisation. This can
be directly linked to Gonzalez and Melis' (2001:47) study which demonstrates that English is
connected to notions of Americanisation.
English is thus presented as a core value in Smolicz's (Smolicz 1995:236-237; as cited in
Clyne 1997:310) terms since it is placed as equivalent to the maintenance of unity, although
there are views against this in the comments of the links to examples (54 and 56). The unity of
the country is therefore created by usage of one language to express belonging and thus avoid
fragmentation. Power relations are evident in that implications for possible language shift and
intrinsic value are expressed only in relation to the movement towards English and do not take
account of the immigrants' first language.
Power relations between the groups are evident in the use of laws for guaranteeing unity
by means of official English and maintaining English language domination in examples (56)
and (59-61), as well as in relation to granting citizenship in examples (56) and (62). The
demand for language shift based on the assertion of identity of the country through English is
linked to demands of loyalty in examples (56-58) and (60) in the expressions of Allegiance,
national language, National Anthem and the Patriot Reaffirmation Ordinance. In other words,
the reference to the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem in relation to English in
example (56) is present in examples (57-58) and (60) with references to national language,
National Anthem, national soul and the Patriot Reaffirmation Ordinance, which in Connor's
(2007) description are expressions of loyalty. Example (64) can also be connected to Connor's
notion of loyalty since it links opposition to national language to notions of anti-English,
which, from a historical perspective of colonial domination, positions English as the de facto
language of the country. Also, contractual loyalty is concretely expressed through citizenship
in example (56). In this example, language is intimately associated to other expressions of
loyalty to the state, which together carry a feeling of belonging (Connor 2007) or 'imagined
community' (Anderson 1992:6-7). The requirements of the Pledge of Allegiance in example
(56) and the Patriot Reaffirmation Ordinance in example (60) are also examples of
eliminating uncertainty of action, which is a significant factor for trust to exist in a society and
for the civil society to function according to Seligman (1997:6). This may by implication be
interpreted as a lack of trust in the loyalty and intentions of those that do not know English.
In these examples the speech community is identified as a unifying factor for monolingual
expression and includes what Morgan (2006:5) describes as its recognition and consequent
naturalisation through the repetition of topics and values regarding the role of English in the
US. The fact that these are brought up in the public debate may be an indication of social
change or the "degree to which speech communities are in crisis" (Morgan 2006:5).
Finally, the Sayers in the examples are all in favour of official English except for example
(58) in which the writer refers to the Sayer President Bush's link of English to the national
soul, example (59) where reference is made to President Roosevelt in a different context, and
example (64) where the Sayer works for an organisation that is against declaring English as
the national language but refers to Sen. Inhofe's amendment for English as the national
6.1.6 Speech act of Immigrants as Criminals
The speech act of Immigrants as Criminals can be seen as constructing a fixed representation
of immigrants as constantly breaking the law since their criminality is portrayed at different
levels in the society, namely their illegal presence in the country (related to issues of state
borders), and their negative effects on the everyday life in the society, e.g. in example (65)
below from article 3 in The New York Times:
(65) There are some people who trash Main Street, and they seem to be
foreign born
The material verb trash indicates an action to destroy or damage. The immigrants are
described vaguely as foreign born. The Sayer is Steven Lonegan, the Republican mayor for
Bogota, N.J. who is campaigning for English as the town's official language. The same
individual has described his stand against illegal immigrants in the same article as: I'll stand
up for legal immigrants instead of abandoning our principles to let illegal aliens in the
country shoot people in the head. In his utterance, Lonegan presents three groups as distinct,
non-immigrants, legal immigrants, and illegal immigrants – the last grouped as criminals
capable of killing others.
Example (66) taken from the LA Times, article 17 explicitly links illegal workers to
criminality in general:
(66) Legislation in the House passed in December would tighten enforcement
along the border and at the workplace, adding a 700-mile wall along the
southern frontier with Mexico and making illegal presence a felony
The modal would indicates certainty in a sequence of actions resulting from legislation.
The use of the noun felony to describe illegal presence equates illegal immigrants as
individuals that have acted against the law in crossing the state border without permission
with individuals that have committed a serious crime comparable to murder or arson.
The immigrants in this example are specified as illegal. The extract is descriptive of the
legislation and written by a journalist. The representation of illegal workers and other
criminals as composing the same group through the word felony is linked to procedures
related to criminality such as arrest in example (67) article 2, The New York Times:
(67) It wants to wall off Mexico, turn 11 million or so illegal immigrants into
an Ohio-size nation of felons and then pick them off through arrests,
The group in question is described as illegal immigrants becoming transformed through
legislation into felons, and thus viewed as those that have committed a serious crime.
The Sayer, the author of an opinion article, claims that the Senate is the only hope for real
reform. There is also further indication that the author is not against an immigration bill since
he/she states: A good immigration bill must honor the nation's values.... The aspect of
criminalisation is also noted in opinion article 2, The New York Times, in which the author
writes: Another profound shortcoming of the bill is its harsh criminal-justice provisions. It
greatly expands the types of immigration-related offenses that constitute "aggravated
felonies" and thus grounds for detention and deportation.
Example (68) published in The New York Times, article 4, identifies Hispanics as the
group that should be punished. The group in question is referred to as illegal immigrants,
particularly those of Hispanic origin and is described through the material process verb to
"break" the law – and also strengthened by the modal should indicating obligation linked to
what is right or wrong:
(68) "These people are breaking the law," he said of the illegal immigrants
here, most of whom are Hispanic, "and they should be prosecuted
The Sayer is Mr Miralgia, a board member of the town of Pahrump. Mr Miralgia has also
put forward a proposal to make English the town's official language.
Example (69) in article 1, The New York Times indicates the debate in which a change in
status given through law, also involves a new representation as a legitimised point of
reference, i.e. the illegal immigrant as equal in status to other criminals. The use of the future
modal would in combination with the verb criminalize indicates a change in the construction
of the immigrant. The journalist uses her own words to indicate the content of the border
security bill passed by the House:
(69) In December, the House defied Mr. Bush's call for a guest worker
program and passed a border security bill that would criminalize illegal
immigrants' presence in the country
Summary and further considerations: speech act of Immigrants as Criminals
The identification of illegality as the signifier to describe immigrants positions them in the
periphery of the American society or even outside as well as in opposition to the society (see
Santa Ana 2002:67, 99; see also Suárez-Orozco and Suárez-Orozco 1995:13 for negative
descriptions in the 1880s of immigrants). The possibility of integrating them is not the first
option particularly in examples (66-67) and (69). Example (65) is the only one in which
illegality is not mentioned even though Otherness is created by differences from the 'we' that
are not destroying the town. The construction of 'us' and 'them' can be seen from Saussure's
(1972:113-114) system of meaning creation through similarities and differences. Furthermore,
in relation to Said's (1978:26) claim of the construction of negative images of Arabs in the
US, the construction of meaning in the data of this study relies on negative images of the
Other based on cultural stereotypes and racism. From this perspective, example (65) includes
all immigrants as criminals, including those that are legally in the country, thus extending the
problem of 'us' and 'them' to larger groups without distinctions in the term foreign born.
Example (68) singles out a specific group, the Hispanics, as constituting the majority of
illegal immigrants. The negative signification of illegality is carried in the construction of the
word through the negative prefix il-. The examples further criminalise the individuals by
reference to law, arrests.
The Sayers in examples (66-67) and (69) indicate a change in the representation of the
illegal immigrant towards a higher grade of criminality. The Sayers are journalists or writers
in editorial pages, as in example (67). The Sayers in examples (65) and (68) are individuals
that have presented proposals for official English and describe the foreign born and the illegal
immigrants as a fixed situation by using the present tense of the verb "to be".
Thus, some immigrants are represented as serious criminals in a definition of "criminals"
that varies from the general to the more specific as well as ranging its references to include all
immigrants or to refer specifically to a particular group, e.g. as in the mention of illegal
Hispanics. The reference to criminality in the data allows for Petterson's (2003:6) view of the
'them' to be portrayed as an enemy and in opposition to the 'us' – a position in which identities
are dichotomised. The construction of the bad, in this case based on criminality, entails that
there is an oppositional good. Consequently if immigrants are bad – with special reference to
illegal immigrants, non-immigrants are good, which in the case of the US constitutes the
perceived dominant group. The negative construction of immigrants and their effect on the
social order may also lead to the impossibility of establishing trust between the groups in
Seligman's (1997:7, 13, 37-38, 172) sense, since there is no "open space" for role negotiation
and role expectations that would lead to building trust in social interactions.
6.1.7 Speech act of Immigrants as Large Quantities of Water
The speech act of Immigrants as Large Quantities of Water is a collective metaphor in which
the individual is nonexistent. Examples (70) and (71) from article 1 in The New York Times
and article 14 in the LA Times, portray the arrival of immigrants as intervals of water mass:
(70) The effort to limit the tide of illegal immigration…
The noun tide refers to the regular rise and fall of the level of the sea. The extract is based
on the journalist's choice of words.
(71) Though the findings echo the history of immigration waves in the U.S….
The noun waves carries the meaning of a moving ridge of water, especially in the sea. In
this case, it is unclear from the text whether the choices of the words are the journalist's or
whether the journalist is reporting what experts have said. The image of waves of water may
be seen as extending to other items that are linked to immigration as is the case of cities and
states in news article 8 in the USA Today: Rising concern over immigration has prompted a
wave of cities and states this year to try to make English the official language.
Example (72) from article 16, LA Times, maintains the same notion of intervals of arrival
but with intensification surge indicating force and is written with the journalist's choice of
(72) Indeed, long before the Southern labor landscape was transformed by a
tidal surge of Latin American immigrants….
In this example, although the adjective tidal and the noun surge carry the meaning to
move forward like waves or to increase suddenly and intensely, they do not directly imply
something negative as in example (70) with the verb limit. Example (73), from article 5 in The
New York Times, can also be said to have a negative implication in the usage of overwhelmed
since it can mean defeat because of larger numbers. However if used in relation to water, it
can mean to cover something quickly and completely thus by implication shows immigrant
interest in learning English:
(73) If Mr. Inhofe wanted to lavish federal money on English-language
classes, now overwhelmed with immigrants on waiting lists…
This extract is taken from an opinion article and thus reflects the view of the writer who
positions himself/herself against the Inhofe amendment to the immigration bill which declares
English as the national language. The above example (73) is a criticism of the amendment.
Summary and further considerations: speech act of Immigrants as Large Quantities of Water
Immigrants are described as uncontrollable quantities of water, thus focusing on them as a
collectivity which is in line with Santa Ana's (2002:60-77) study in which the individual is
lost in a collective view of immigrants. The examples indicate similarities in the reference to
movements of different groups of immigrants thus entailing the application of the same
meaning and attitudes to all these separate groups. There is therefore a perception of these
collectives constituting an undifferentiated whole through application of the same signifier
(see Saussure 1972:113-114). As a consequence, the identities of immigrants as individuals
and as more specific groups become lost in the larger collective idea of a formless mass of
water. The opposition between 'us' and 'them' is constructed in the interpretation of
immigrants against those that are not immigrants. There is a construction of identity that is
flexible and contextual since groups that originally (approximately over 200 years ago) were
immigrants in the country, and now form part of the dominating group of English speaking
citizens, are not included in the description of immigrants – except in example (71). It is
further possible to link the representation of immigrants as water to the Rio Grande which is
the river separating Mexico from the United States, more specifically, the southern state of
Texas and part of New Mexico. With this in mind, the connection of immigrants to water
therefore, indicates a dehumanising perception and ideology regarding them which is in line
with findings by Said (1978:26) and Santa Ana (2002) regarding Arab and Hispanic
immigrants in the US. Furthermore, the description of immigrants as water is an example of
More specifically, in example (70), reference is made to groups of people through their
illegality. Examples (71) and (73) are the most generalised and refer to all immigrants,
whereas example (72) specifies the immigrant group as Latin American immigrants.
All the examples above, except for example (73), are written by journalists or with
reference to an expert, thus representing a descriptive stance of reality. The Sayer in example
(73) is against the measure for a national language and the example is taken from an opinion
6.1.8 Speech act of Immigrants as Harmful
The speech act of Immigrants as Harmful contains different representations of immigrants as
capable of destruction. Example (74) from article 2 in The New York Times describes
immigrants as harmful insects/animals:
(74) That spirit of wishful hunkering has infected the Senate, where
Democrats and moderate Republicans have had to struggle against the
obstinacy of those who join their counterparts in the House in seeing
immigration entirely as a pest-control
The indirect reference to immigrants (via the process of immigration) as pest-control
entails that they are seen as insects or animals that destroy plants and food. In this case the
author of this opinion article is referring to the view of some members in the House of
Representatives, i.e. of individuals with positions of authority. The Sayer positions himself in
favour of a good immigration bill and claims that the Senate bill is already weakened by
compromise but calls the version proposed by the House as deplorable. The Sayer in the
following example (75), opinion article 20 in the San Francisco Chronicle, is against
declaring official English and contains an example of attitudes from the colonial period and
the values of the time regarding human beings:
(75) Since the early days of the republic, there have been cries against the
"uncivilized nature" of immigrants, in whose mouth "Shakespeare's
tongue gets polluted."
The relational process verb gets indicates an attribute polluted that is a result of a
transformation in this case indicating that something has become dirty or no longer pure
especially by adding harmful or unpleasant things to it.
Example (76), from article 13 in the San Francisco Chronicle, approaches the issue of
immigration by describing immigrant groups as being in conflict with each other or having
opposing interests:
(76) Today, Yeh is the executive director of the Oakland-based Diversity
Alliance for a Sustainable America, a nonprofit organization that seeks
to limit both illegal and legal immigration. What makes it unique is that
DASA is led by minorities, including immigrants, American Indians and
African Americans. As they put it in their mission statement, "Current
rates of immigration…hurt minorities and earlier immigrants the
The material process verb hurt carrying the meaning of causing pain gives agency to the
phenomenon of immigration as capable of causing pain. This extract is part of an opinion
article showing support among legal immigrants to stop illegal immigration – in the case of
the above Sayer, and the organisation DASA, whose goal is also to stop legal immigration.
It is possible to see a similarity to the speech act of Immigration Debate as Racial in
example (77) from article 15 "More than just Latinos-next-door", LA Times, in the sense that
minority communities are in conflict:
(77) Feelings that blacks, and black communities, are under siege
This example specifies which communities feel directly affected by immigrants, namely
black communities. The noun siege refers to a military operation of surrounding and
capturing, carrying a negative meaning. In this opinion article, it is the perspective of the
black communities that is portrayed as having the feeling of being surrounded by Latinos
since it is written by a person who identifies himself as belonging to an African-American
neighbourhood. Example (78) below from article 4 in The New York Times portrays the same
conflict as in example (77) of this section but the conflict is between a minority and a majority
(78) "They come in here, they take the jobs, they take away the services that
belong to real Americans and they don't respect our flag," said Mr.
Harvard, who was born in Nevada. "It's not right."
The material process verbs come, take and take away indicate some groups as actively
taking possession of things. The dichotomy between groups is described through opposition
to real Americans, the adjective indicating an idea of something true or genuine. A further
aspect is the collective use of they to refer to the immigrant group which is placed in a relation
of difference to our, and the notion of real Americans. Also, the reference to our flag
dichotomisations of 'us' and 'them'. The context in which this statement is made is in
connection to the increasing number of Hispanics (legal and illegal) in the town of Pahrump,
and the extract is said by Fred Harvard, 61 who has supported the English Language and
Patriot Reaffirmation Ordinance put forward by Mr Miralgia, a board member of the town of
Pahrump, which declares English the official language of the town.
Summary and further considerations: speech act of Immigrants as Harmful
The above examples show the view of the immigrant as something harmful. In their study,
Suárez-Orozco and Suárez-Orozco (1995:191-197) use a psychological approach and also
conclude that immigrants in the public discourse for Proposition 187 in California (declared
as unconstitutional and would have denied a variety of public benefits to illegal immigrants)
were represented metaphorically as parasites and criminals. The construction of the immigrant
as the Other, according to these authors, is seen as a projection of "primitive psychological
needs in times of social upheaval and anxiety" (Suárez-Orozco and Suárez-Orozco 1995:196).
The images of the immigrant include racist and dehumanising ideologies in agreement with
Said's (1978:26) and Santa Ana's (2002:99) findings. Example (74) is an example of
interdiscursivity in which immigrants are described as insects/animals via the immigration
process and pest-control measures. Example (75), in particular, deals with Anglo-cultural
hegemony and its considered superiority. All examples, except for example (77), refer to
immigrants as a collective entity which can be related to Santa Ana's (2002:84-85) study in
which the individual is not considered. Also the data shows that there is little distinction
within the group of "immigrants" by use of different terms, although in example (76)
immigrants are qualified through association to time, namely by means of the adjectives
current and earlier. Example (76) refers to historical aspects and example (77) indicates the
minority that is affected by the arrival of immigrants, with special reference to Latinos in the
remainder of article.
All four Sayers have different views regarding the issue of immigration. Example (74) is
part of an editorial in which the author is in favour of an immigration bill that is "good" and
"just" to immigrants. The Sayer in this example refers to the view of others on the issue of
immigration. Example (75) is part of an opinion article in which the author expresses a stand
against the measure for official English. Example (76) refers to an organisation that is against
immigration at the rate it is taking place. Example (77) delivers the view of a member of the
black community in an opinion article. Lastly, the Sayer in example (78) is a 61 year-old man
who supported an English-only ordinance the town of Pahrump, (60 miles west of Las
Vegas), with 35,000 inhabitants. The ordinance in question contained: a proposal for a
declaration of English as the official language, the denial of certain town benefits to illegal
individuals, and a statement that all foreign flag flying must be accompanied by an American
6.1.9 Speech act of Immigration as a Sovereignty Issue
The speech act of Immigration as a Sovereignty Issue is defined by threat. In example (79)
from article 17 "House Leaders Intensify Debate on Immigration" in the LA Times, threat is
directly related to immigration but there is no detailed explanation of how immigrants can
cause security threats:
(79) The House conducted hearings last week in San Diego and Laredo,
Texas, that focused on security threats posed by lax enforcement of
immigration laws…"They've put us in a stronger position to craft a
responsible bill that secures our borders and strictly enforces our
immigration laws," Boehner said
Security is used as an adjective characterising the type of threat. The threat is not due to
the absence of laws but to the perception that implementation is not strict or severe enough
and is described by usage of the adjective lax. Moreover, the Other is constructed generally
and refers to all immigrants. The use of the material process verb secures emphasises the
boundaries between 'us' and 'them' as demanding necessary action. The verb secures also
carries the meaning of making safe thus entailing maintenance rather than change. The
journalist gives an account in her own words of the hearings in Texas but also includes the
views of House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on the issue although it is not
possible to see his position on immigration. There is indication that some House leaders are
against aspects of the immigration bill as given in the article: the hearing was intended to
counter criticisms of its bill, which House leaders oppose in large part because it includes a
path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Article 21 in the San Francisco Chronicle
criticises the support by some politicians of the demonstration "Day without Immigrants" as
amounting to a reckless endorsements of policies that make our nation and our borders less
secure. The link between the demonstration in support of granting citizenship to illegal
immigrants to national security brings forward aspects of freedom to demonstrate and aspects
of loyalty symbolised by the words our nation.
In example (80) from the same article 17, the Sayer, given by He, is Commerce Secretary
Carlos M. Guitierrez, who is in favour of the immigration bill passed by the Senate which
allowed for citizenship to be granted to illegal immigrants already in the country. The bill was
at the time of Mr. Guitierrez's statement under consideration in the House:
(80) He said that the more the immigration debate veered toward the House's
"enforcement only" approach, the more these immigrants would be
driven "farther and father [sic] underground. What we want for our
national security is to drive them above the shadows, so we know who
they are."
The issue of security is brought to the collective level by the use of the adjective national.
Also, security is constructed in an 'us' and 'them' relationship since immigrants, specified by
the demonstrative these are the focus of the approach by the House of Representatives. There
are several references to illegality through the metaphoric use of underground and shadows
reinforcing the issue of security. The modal would indicates an imagined consequence and is
thus a projection of the future if certain conditions are met – in this case the author is
criticising the House's action.
Examples (81) and (82) below from article 1 "Immigration Bill Backed in Senate, Setting
up Clash", show a primary focus on enforcement measures. Example (82) also links the
speech act of Immigration as a Sovereignty Issue to the speech act of Immigrants as
(81) The effort to limit the tide of illegal immigration and deal with those
illegal immigrants who are already in the United States will then move
to negotiation between the Senate and the House, which has passed
legislation that focuses on bolstering border security and offers no
provision for citizenship
The verb bolstering carries the meaning of the need to support or strengthen already
existing measures that are related to border security and illegal immigration. The extract is
given in the reporter's own words.
(82) In December, the House defied Mr. Bush's call for a guest worker
program and passed a border security bill that would criminalize illegal
immigrants' presence in the country.
Representative Tom Tancredo, Republican of Colorado, said Wednesday
that he and other House conservatives remained steadfast in "support
for a security-first approach to immigration."
The focus on security-first places the threat at a level of urgency and relates it directly to
the issue of immigration in general. The reference to border indicating the type of bill
indicates the area of action necessary for prioritisation. The use of would indicates a
consequence of the border bill. There are two Sayers in this extract, the first is the journalist in
her reporting of the event; the second is Representative Tom Tancredo, Republican of
Colorado who, along with other House conservatives, is against the immigration bill passed
by the Senate.
Example (83) from article 13 in the San Francisco Chronicle dichotomises the options
available to preserve sovereignty. Thus, the action against illegal immigration is divided in
which the adjectives open and intact are two possible extremes available as regards border
and sovereignty respectively:
(83) For several months, Americans have been embroiled in a national
debate over illegal immigration. On one side you have those pushing for
guest-worker programs, amnesty and open borders. On the other are
those trying to keep U.S. citizenship and sovereignty intact.
The Sayer is the author of this opinion article which contains comments from legal
immigrants who support her views that illegal immigration must be stopped. The Sayer
positions herself against amnesty to illegal immigrants already in the United States.
Example (84) from article 1, The New York Times, links the issues of securing borders and
foreign guest workers to designating English as the national language with the conjunction
and, thus placing all these at the same level in the proposed amendment to the immigration
(84) Critics of the bill did gain some notable victories. They won passage on
amendments that call for 370 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico,
designate English as the national language and reduce the number of foreign
guest workers to be admitted annually to 200,000 a year from 320,000.
The inclusion of the status of English as an amendment to an immigration bill may create
a precondition for the two matters to always be tied in future discussions and thus naturalises
a link between the issues. The Sayer of this extract is the news article's journalist. The idea of
fencing for guaranteeing impermeable borders is also present in article 2 from The New York
Times in: It wants to wall off Mexico (It refers to the House of Representatives). Example (85)
also from article 1 explicitly links citizenship to English in which the material verb enroll
does not contain the need to "know" English:
(85) Under the Senate agreement, illegal immigrants who have lived in the
United States for five years or more, about seven million people, would
eventually be granted citizenship if they remained employed, passed
background checks, paid fines and back taxes, and enrolled in English
The author of opinion article 20 in the San Francisco Chronicle also makes the connection
between citizenship and language by claiming that citizenship is given as an excluding
measure, i.e. the granting of citizenship constructs in-groups and out-groups by defining those
that know English and those that do not have knowledge of the language. This can be
contrasted to the viewpoint of opinion writer of article 22 in the San Francisco Chronicle who
claims that issues of immigration regarding border security, costs related to illegal
immigrants, and their status as illegal are not affected one way or another by whatever
language newcomers speak. The immigration debate, according to this Sayer, is a xenophobic
concern over cultural change due to a growing Latino population and that the debate
regarding language and the agreement to pass the amendment for English as a national
language is a detour from the immigration debate. The Sayer also refers to Sen. Obama's view
in reported speech that the immigration debate is being sidetracked into a discussion of
language and that there is a need to refocus on an immigration policy. Furthermore, the Sayer
in opinion article 23, links the idea of having literacy tests for immigrants to the hard work his
grandfather put in trying to support his family by taking manual labor jobs e.g. quarrying rock
or digging basements when he arrived as an Italian immigrant, and therefore never took the
time to learn English and states sarcastically: …because I speak no Italian…and he spoke no
English…, I was never able to communicate effectively to him just how un-American he was.
Example (86) from article 1 is similar to example (80) above in which the border security
of the country is in focus through citizenship of illegal immigrants using a metaphoric image
of a road and its implication of a journey that stretches over time path:
(86) A compromise Senate bill that would toughen border security and put
most illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship emerged intact…
Example (86) can also be related to the reference in article 21 from the San Francisco
Chronicle in which entrance into the category of citizenship is explicitly related to attitude by
the verbs allow and prod as well as the noun chance denoting power relations: …to prod
Congress to allow the nation's 12 million illegal immigrants a chance to become citizens.
Summary and further conclusions: speech act of Immigration as a Sovereignty Issue
The word security is used in a variety of meanings i.e. from the action of controlling the
borders to placing notions of sovereignty in opposition to immigration as in example (83).
Example (80) does not refer to borders explicitly but the reference to national security carries
the idea of sovereignty and the idea of a state with a political border. Examples (79), (81-82)
and (86) refer to the strengthening of existing border controls, and example (84) links
immigration issues to language status.
The extracts referring explicitly or directly to issues of security are worded by journalists
or those actively against illegal immigration. Example (83) specifically refers to the threat of
damage to the sovereignty of the state. The Sayer in example (80) is pointed out in the article
as a figure of authority and as having Hispanic origin which may contribute to legitimising his
point of view.
6.1.10 Speech act of Immigration Debate as Racial
The speech act of Immigration Debate as Racial brings forward group dynamics between
majority and minority groups as well as between minority groups based on race-related
expressions which become legitimised and strengthened by proposals related to language use
in the society. Example (87) from article 4 "Stars and Strife: Flag Rule Splits Town" in The
New York Times shows that it is enough for a proposal on language (with regard to
immigration) to be put forward in the democratic process for individuals to legitimise power
through race-related expressions directed to all individuals that are stereotyped as having a
particular set of racial characteristics:
(87) Some Hispanic residents have said that since Mr. Miralgia's proposals
were introduced people in passing cars have yelled racial slurs at them
The use of the adjective racial defines the negativity and the type of the accusation or
statement carried by the noun slurs. The content in this extract is given by the reporter and it
is unclear who specifically his sources were apart from the indefinite indication given by
Some Hispanic residents. Example (88) from the same article 4 relates the issue of group
discriminatory action to the right of freedom to demonstrate:
(88) But Mr. Romero said he did not think that the board's attitude reflected
that of most of Pahrump, even though one of his restaurants was painted
with anti-Mexican slurs on May 1, when he closed them in observance
of the national "Day Without An Immigrant" protests
The negative prefix anti- is attached to the ethnic origin of the person, possibly defined
through nationality, which qualifies the negative noun slur. The Sayer for which the content is
attributed in indirect speech by the journalist is Mr Romero, 36 who is the owner of two
restaurants and a convenience store in the town of Pahrump.
In contrast to examples (87) and (88) in this section from article 4 that dealt with the
relations between members of the majority (implicit) and minority (explicit) groups, example
(89) from article 16 "A Southern accent on day laborers" in the LA Times brings another
perspective, namely the relations between two competing minority groups that have had
different settlement histories in the country:
(89) The black laborers speak of their Latino competitors with a mix of
resentment, resignation and tolerance. Many reckon that tougher
immigration laws would mean more work for them. But they also suspect
that some old, familiar prejudices are energizing the anti-illegalimmigrant movement.
The use of the term prejudices refers to negative opinions and attitudes that may not be
based on the individual's own experience – but are built on a shared notion of stereotypes. The
fact that the sources that refer to old familiar prejudices are also described as black laborers
implies that these make a link between the debate as it is discussed now and previous racebased attitudes. There is also an indication that although the black laborers are not linked to
the immigration debate they may still suffer from its effects as racial prejudices that are
directed to immigrants may also be applied to them. The modal would is used to indicate
probability in the description of consequence of an imagined situation. The same uncertainty
is given in the verb reckon. The use of a term to describe skin colour black laborers indicates
a way of expressing based on the traditional definition of race. The terms Latinos and black
also indicate non-differentiation within these two groups thus implying that these groups are
homogeneously composed. The journalist of this news article reports in his own words the
information obtained from the black labourers.
Example (90) also from article 16 expresses more explicitly a possible conflict between
the minority groups:
(90) But when Curtis was asked whether he supported a crackdown on illegal
immigration, his voice softened. "That's a hard thing to say," he said.
"You may say that, you're on a racial-type mind-set. All I'm looking for
is equal opportunity."
The adjective racial-type implies a negative perception in its use in the society. The use of
type indicates a set of features that are connected to a "racial mind-set". Also the noun mindset carries the meaning of a set of attitudes that are previously formed. The combination
implies a shared knowledge between speaker and listener. The Sayer Curtis, a black labourer,
is earlier part of the description given by the journalist as Frustration over the Latino
presence was palpable in the loud, strained voice of Anthony Curtis, 42, a burly man in an
orange parka. "They pick up the majority of the work," he said....
Awareness of outer group labelling and stereotypes held by the majority with regard to the
minority groups is shown in example (91) in the same article:
(91) The unregulated labor market runs on familiar principles. Jobs tend to
go to low bidders, to workers with valued skills and to workers who are
hungry enough to get to the trucks first. But racial stereotypes also exert
an influence. Everyone agrees that it's better to be brown than to be
The use of the adjective racial is used in combination with stereotypes describing more
specifically the type of group simplification that is prevalent in the community. The journalist
is seen as having chosen the words in this extract. In the other parts of this article, illegal
Latino day labourers also offer the explanation that they are chosen by employers because
according to them, African-Americans do not like to work. This reference can be linked to the
idea of Hispanics as hard working in the speech act of Immigrants as a Labour Resource
(section 6.2.5). The journalist attributes skin colour references black and brown denominating
African-Americans and Hispanics respectively to members of the minority groups.
In example (92) from opinion article 22 "A divisive declaration of official English" in the
San Francisco Chronicle, the speaker, President Bush, humanises Hispanics by using the
noun humanity referring to humans as a group to which Hispanics are included in a listing of
three qualities among which hard work is mentioned. This is linked through the conjunction
and repeated twice in a list of three where common usage would have been to include a
comma between the first and second elements. However, it must be noted that this example
refers to an interview situation which may have facilitated the use of the conjunction.
Nevertheless, the conjunction emphasises the content through repetition. The need to refer to
the humanity of the Spanish speakers indicates that it might not be a naturalised perception in
the general society and therefore can be linked to race-related notions:
(92) In an interview with McClatchy Newspapers, Bush said, that growing up
in Texas, he learned to "recognize the decency and hard work and
humanity of Hispanics."
The text is part of an opinion article arguing that immigration policy should not be linked
to declaring English the official language. The information is taken from an earlier interview
given by President Bush in which according to the article writer, Bush claimed that the
resistance to a bipartisan Senate compromise on immigration was driven by a fear of
In Example (93) below from opinion article 2, in which the writer is in favour of a good
immigration bill, published in The New York Times, the amendment for declaring the status of
English is implicitly linked to race-related issues through a description of xenophobia which
is rewritten in the combination hostility to immigrants. The use of the definite article at the
beginning The Xenophobia Problem establishes it as known fact:
(93) The Xenophobia Problem. The Senate's debate has laid bare a hostility to
immigrants that is depressing in its spitefulness and vigor. From Senator James
Inhofe's amendment declaring English the national language to….
Summary and further conclusions: speech act of Immigration Debate as Racial
The adjective racial indicates that race is mostly used as a qualifier to describe something
else. It also indicates that "race" is a significant factor in the construction of the relations
between 'us' and 'them'. The specificity of the group is narrowed in example (88) to a
particular group of Latin Americans, the Mexicans. In this context, it is worth mentioning
Schmidt's (2002) CDA study that shows a perceived linkage between the English language
and the "whiteness" of the speaker. Thus, Otherness is defined by not being of European
origin and not speaking English.
All the examples, except examples (92-93) represent the perspective of a member of a
minority group even though some are in reported speech. Also, group differentiation is made
at different levels i.e. there is a distinction between the dominant majority group and the
minorities (Latinos/Hispanics/Mexicans and African-Americans), as well as between the
different minority groups namely in the differentiation carried by reference to the signifiers
brown/black. This line of thought rests on Saussure's (1972:113-114) system of differences
and similarities. The use of the choice humanity in example (92) makes prominent the
attitudes of difference held by the dominant group.
Examples (87-88) refer to the experiences of settled Hispanics and both belong to the
same article i.e. article 4. Examples (89-91) are from article 16 and also give a perspective as
seen by a minority member. Example (90) uses the direct wording of an African-American
individual. Examples (89) and (91) are reworded by the journalist to represent the view of the
black labourers and also that of the Latino group. Example (92) gives the words of President
Bush mainly regarding Hispanics. Example (93) portrays immigrants as an undifferentiated
group and is part of the editorial of the newspaper.
Thus, in some of the examples the point of view belongs to the Other i.e. the minority and
their opinion regarding the perception of the majority of them as a minority. This factor can
be related to Du Bois' (2006) concept of 'double consciousness' of blacks in the US regarding
their own identity and their awareness of the dominant group's view of them. Their
positioning in the data is provided by references to "race" and "race-related" actions, even
though the groups are labelled differently in America, namely, as Kymlicka (2002:360-361;
see also Appiah 2005:11, 66 for available identity labels in a society) states, through race for
the African-American group and by means of language for the Hispanic group. The joining of
these groups under race indicates the possibility of constructing contextualised representations of groups with the effect of maintaining what Said (1978:7) refers to as the
flexible positional superiority of the dominant group as the norm provider.
6.1.11 Speech act of Immigration Debate as War
Below are words and expressions in the data regarding the immigration debate. Several words
and expressions related to war provide evidence of how the debate is described or talked
about. Example (94), from article 1, in The New York Times, shows the words used by the
journalist when reporting on the immigration bill:
(94) Defeated, oppose, fight to prevent, fended off, efforts to kill it; victory,
defied, compromise, coalition, showdown, bipartisan support,
beleaguered Border Patrol agents, contingent of up to 6,000 National
Guard troops, deployed, opposed
Apart from mostly negative words, some words with positive connotations were also
employed e.g. the noun allies used by the Senators that were opposed to the bill to refer to the
Representatives in the House that were also against the Senate immigration bill. Another noun
that the reporter attributed to her sources is compromise in the context that Mr. McCain says
that Representative Michael N. Castle, a Republican from Delaware, told him that several of
his colleagues were interested in supporting a compromise. The word allies was also used by
the opinion writer of article 5 in The New York Times, when referring to those supporting Sen.
Inhofe's amendment. The author of article 5 is against the amendment proposed by Sen.
Inhofe to declare English as the national language of the country.
Example (95) from opinion article 2, also published in The New York Times describes the
discussion surrounding the immigration bill also in mainly negative words. The author of the
article claims to be in favour of "a good immigration bill":
(95) survive the hostile attentions; coalition, fatally, fended off, sabotage,
danger, struggle, amnesty, blow up.
In the following example (96) from article 17, LA Times, the journalist describes the
discussions in the Senate and the House regarding the immigration bill by using verbs:
(96) oppose; counter
Also dueling as an adjective to hearings was used by the Judiciary Committee Chairman
Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) given in direct speech, when referring to the parallel hearings held in
the Senate and the House regarding the bill.
Example (97) from opinion article 20 in the San Francisco Chronicle, contains terms that
link to the conflict in the Former Yugoslavia during the 1990s:
(97) threatens to Balkanize the nation; verbal cleansing.
According to the author, fragmentation expressed by Balkanize reflects the belief of the
proponents of official English. The expression verbal cleansing is the article writer's own
view of the consequences of declaring an official language and believes that such an action
will create a perverse form of exclusivity around the concept of citizenship. The author is
against the measure to declare English as the official language.
Example (98) from article 21 continues to describe the debate on the immigration bill in
conflict terms:
(98) foes, bipartisan coalition, defensive; amnesty; reconquista
The word danger is used by the journalist to describe the concern politicians have over the
cost to votes that expanding legal immigration may have in the short term. However,
politicians are also described as seeing that they might win Latino votes from the new citizens
in the long term. Bush's opposition to the "Day without an immigrant" walkout/boycott is
described using opposed. Another word that indicates conflict is amnesty used by Marshall
Wittman, a political analyst with the centrist Democratic Progressive Policy Institute, when
referring to the possibility of legalising illegal immigrants saying that: Those who lean toward
amnesty are playing right into the hands of the conservative right. An interesting aspect is the
use of reconquista by the Latino organisation "You Don't Speak for Me", who is against
granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, claiming that the proposal to grant citizenship to
illegal immigrants is unfair and warned against a "reconquista" of the United States by illegal
Mexican immigrants.
Example (99) from article 4, in The New York Times uses war terminology for describing
the process involving proposals:
(99) defeated another proposal
The proposal in question was put forward by Mr Miralgia, a member of the town board of
Pahrump that would require a $200 fee from illegal immigrants and also that they give the
names of any relatives they might have in the United States. This proposal was turned down
by the board. Another example in the same article deals with a more explicit case of
influencing personal relations by authorities in which school officials were said to have
harassed students by forbidding them to use Spanish in private conversations. The choice of
the word harassed in the description of the event was used by a lawyer working for the
American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, Lee Rowland.
Summary and further considerations: speech act of Immigration Debate as War
The speech act of Immigration Debate as War is linked to Lakoff and Johnson's (1980:4)
argument is war metaphor. This metaphor is present in the debate indicated by the above
lexical items that are related to war situations and the meaning of the term 'debate' as a formal
argument. There is therefore an indication of interdiscursivity evidenced in the metaphoric
links to war.
Examples (94), (96), and (98-99) have words falling within the metaphor argument is war
used by the journalist of the respective newspapers, whereas the other examples are either
from critics against official English, examples (97) and (99), or include views that are against
the formulation of the immigration bill as drawn up, examples (95) and (98). Example (96)
also includes the words used by the Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman, although
there is no explicit information regarding Chairman Specter’s position on the issue.
6.2 Discourse type of Efficiency
6.2.1 Speech act of English-Optional Services
The speech act of English-Optional Services refers to the effects of market forces. In example
(100) from news article 14 "Immigrants' children grow fluent in English, study says", in the
LA Times, the issue is about availability of services and widespread usage of Spanish:
(100) …the Pew report's finding that 71% of Mexican immigrants say they
speak English just a little or not at all is reason for concern. It suggests
that people don't need to learn English because they can access any
service they need "In many ways, we have become an English-optional
society" he said
The main verb need in don't need and the modal can are placed in oppositional
relationship in which the absence of obligation to learn English is due to the possibility can of
using Spanish (present by implication from Mexican immigrants) in everyday circumstances.
The relational process have become indicates a change in the American society towards
using English as an option as problematic by implication of concern being a credible,
acceptable or valid emotion in which justification is provided in the phrase reason for. The
languages in question in this example are Spanish and English. The Sayer is Rob Toonkel
spokesman for U.S. English Inc., supporting official English. In a similar way, opinion article
10 in USA Today, written by Sen. Inhofe gives an example of what entitlements his proposal
for English as the national language aims to target: In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that
Martha Sandoval, who had lived in America for 10 years without learning English, could not
sue Alabama because it didn't offer foreign-language driver's license tests. The aspects that
are emphasised are the length of time she had been living in the US, added as a relative nondefining clause identified by commas, and the expectations that non-English speakers have for
services in English. The use of a non-defining clause could be seen as indicating that the
information is not needed to identify the person – in this case Martha Sandoval – but which
the author includes as additional information to further strengthen his case for the need for
establishing English as the national language. These views contradict the findings of the Pew
report as given in article 14 – the same report referred to in example (100) above – in which it
also states that by the third generation, 94% of Latinos say they can speak English very well.
Dominance of English as having taken place in 80% of Latinos by the third generation –
based on an interpretation of the Pew report – is also taken up in opinion article 23 in the San
Francisco Chronicle, which states that the remaining 20% are bilinguals. Opinion article 24
gives similar information when referring to the Pew report but whereas in article 23 the
number of third generation Spanish speakers was given as a zero, the author of article 24
gives a more cautious reference with an adverb hardly giving an indefinite number and
qualifying the indefinite pronoun anyone.
Example (101) below from article 3 in The New York Times shows the perspective of
Steven Lonegan, Republican mayor of Bogota, N.J, who is campaigning for official English:
(101) In a book that he is soon to publish himself, he writes, "McDonald's
should realize that in promulgating bilingualism, they are empowering
the left wing that sees bilingualism as one more arrow to the heart of
our democracy."
The use of as marks a simile of bilingualism as harmful to the ideology of democracy of
the United States. Thus, bilingualism in advertising is portrayed as a threat to democracy.
This is accentuated by are empowering as a material process, involving a "doing" verb and
establishing the responsibility of agency to McDonald's and further linking these actions to
the goals of the left wing, namely, to harm democracy via bilingualism. McDonald's is also
given agency through the modal of obligation should. Thus interdiscursivity, based on
crossing of domains, is present in the use of the political implications of empowerment in
relation to a business. Interdiscursivity is also present in the metaphor arrow to the heart of
our democracy in the use of arrow and the attribution of a heart to a political ideology.
Furthermore the use of the possessive our distinguishes whose democracy and creates a
collective feeling of 'us' in the state, implying also monolingualism as linked to democracy in
the United States. Moreover, the article begins with a verb indicating an attempt of exercising
asymmetrical power relations demanded by the mayor of the town: Steven Lonegan, the
Republican mayor of Bogota, N.J., who demanded last year that McDonald's remove a
billboard written in Spanish and who then pushed to make English the town's official
language. According to the author of opinion article 19, several different organisations
advertise in Spanish such as accounting firms, the US Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and
even producers of construction equipment include instructions in Spanish in their supplies.
The author further claims that almost all consumer appliances or products have instructions in
Spanish and English. From a different perspective, the author of opinion article 24 in USA
Today claims that the Senate measure sponsored by Sen. Inhofe – if legislated – may
discourage immigrants from paying taxes because the IRS would not continue their Spanish
The public domains in which Spanish is used in the US is further criticised in example
(102), article 14 in the LA Times:
(102) Groups that support controls on immigration and English-only
initiatives say the federal government and U.S. companies are making it
easy for Latino immigrants to continue to speak Spanish.
Language maintenance is referred to in the material process verbs continue to speak. The
Groups in question are specifically those that are in favour of immigration control and
English-only measures indicated by the conjunction and, which also indicates that these same
groups share a common view, namely that the coexistence of languages is unacceptable in the
explicit use of English-only and implied criticism that organisations are facilitating language
maintenance. English-only initiatives are described as focusing on: language battles…fought
over school tests, storefront signs and local ballots…sanctions against employers who require
workers to speak only English. This information is given in the paragraph directly before this
extract and reflected in the journalist's own choice of words. Also, in example (102) the
reference to Latino immigrants in the material process by the agents federal government and
U.S companies singles them out as the group in question. This section is written by the
journalist. In comparison, the author of opinion article 20 can be seen as having an opposing
view to the English-only proponents (described by the use of the verb continue in example
(102) above) since he states that making English the official language does not entail that
Spanish will disappear.
The difference between official English and national language is blurred in example (103)
from article 5 "Press One for English", The New York Times, since offering services in
Spanish "Oprima número dos" 14 would not be restricted if the amendment would only be
symbolic, i.e. English would only be declared a national language:
(103) By a vote of 63 to 34, the Senate tacked onto its immigration bill an
amendment from Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma that declares
English to be "the national language of the United States." If you
thought otherwise, or weren't sure, well now you know: We speak
English here. None of that "Oprima número dos."
Translated by the present author as "Press number two"
The author uses irony to refer to the impact of the amendment in relation to societal
multilingualism implying an intention of monolingualism in the society by Senator Inhofe
with the idiom None of indicating a refusal of acceptance of Spanish. Thus it can be stated
that the Inhofe amendment for a declaration of a national language attempts to impose
measures that are associated to official language status. This extract is written by the author of
an opinion article that is against the amendment.
Example (104) from article 24 in USA Today gives some areas where consumers can use
(104) Sometimes it may seem that English is under attack. Dial a credit card
company, and you're greeted in two languages. Order coffee at a
convenience store, and the clerk might not understand you. Hit the
wrong button at the ATM, and the screen flashes Spanish.
The material process verb attack indicates an attempt to hurt, overcome or defeat. Also,
the use of the present tense is combined with the preposition under indicates the present
condition or state. The Spanish language is specifically referred to in the extract, thus it may
be deduced that it is the principal threat to English expressed through attack. This extract is
part of an opinion article and reflects the word choice of the author who does not favour the
Inhofe amendment. The author in article 23 also refers to ATM users being encountered with
a language other than English. Furthermore, the experience described by the Sayer in example
(104) can be related to a Mexican couple's view in article 14 in the LA Times, that: "It's
changed," Manuel said. "Now Spanish is spoken wherever" when explaining that they can get
by with their Spanish.
Example (105) from article 12 in the LA Times indicates that it is not only private
businesses that are supplying services in Spanish but that social service agencies are also
facilitating contact in other languages indicated by the adjective foreign-born as well as
contributing to difference in the adjective-noun combination distinct "communities":
(105) To navigate this amazing diversity, entities from social service agencies
to bank marketing divisions developed separate, linguistically and
culturally unique appeals targeting an array of distinct
"communities". The target audience within those communities was
generally foreign-born householders who had arrived in the U.S. within
a decade or two.
The verb targeting indicates a conscious action, enhanced by the verb navigate, and is a
consequence of the existence of various groups in the society described by the adverbs and
adjectives linguistically and culturally unique and distinct (carried by the noun array
indicating a series in an array of distinct "communities") and by the noun diversity. The Sayer
of this extract is in favour of creating an integration that includes difference rather than
segregates and is critical of programmes that target specific language and cultural groups.
This can be related to opinion article 15 which puts forward a situation at a school meeting of
black and Latino parents in which a black American father protests that school staff do not
speak English. The children of English speaking Americans living in the community are
forced to shift language or learn a new language if they attend the local school – in this case in
South LA. In this case, English is not the first language of the majority of the students: But the
meeting took a detour when a black father stood up to express concern about the
administrative staff at his kids' school not speaking English. This example offers a different
perspective and presents a consequence to the circumstances of specific group targeting
described and criticised in example (105). In opinion article 15, the minority community
brings forward a change in the community service, i.e. the language used in school, which
consequently affects the everyday of the individuals attending that particular public school.
Summary and further considerations: speech act of English-Optional Services
The dominating sentiment underlying these examples is the discussion that bilingualism has
negative effects, and poses a threat to the identity of the state by the use of languages other
than English for supplying services to customers and citizens. The extracts thus indicate an
emphasis on a monolingual rather than a multilingual American identity. This can be linked to
questions posed by Watson (2000:38-39) namely whether the American identity has any room
for equality between different groups with a basis on multiculturalism or whether attainment
of homogeneity should be the goal of the society. This can be further linked to Valdes' (as
cited in Gonzalez and Melis 2001:47) study that showed that multilingualism was connected
to concepts of un-American. In the data, the agents that are pointed out as the main
contributors to bilingualism or multilingualism are the government through multilingual
entitlements, and companies in providing services and directing adverts to non-English
speakers. Furthermore, Spanish speakers are referred to as Latino immigrants, Mexican
immigrants and foreign-born householders, indicating the various available labels that are
attributed to the identities of non-native English speakers (see Appiah 2005:66 on available
labels). In the case of example (101), an application of interdiscursivity is present in the use of
political arguments in the liberal market economy.
The rationalist approach to nationalism stated in Ager (2001:19) in which language is
central to a society is present in examples (100) and (104) in the explicit criticism of the
presence of other languages, most particularly Spanish, in the semi-public space. Example
(103) also indicates the provision of services in Spanish. An explicit warning is presented in
example (101) in the notion of the state, characterised by a kind of democracy, being
threatened. In examples (100-101) the Sayers present an involuntary change in the semipublic space and place English as a core value, a term connected to Smolicz (1995:236-237)
and even to Mertz's (1982) idea that certain American values can only be referred to through
English – as implied in example (101). Example (105) can be seen as implying that the supply
of services in different languages increases segregation and is therefore an indirect argument
for official English, even though the author writes in favour of an inclusive integration. The
use of other languages in the society indicates a diminishing of what Pavlenko and Blackledge
(2003:2) identify as social control and an implication of the need to impose the English
language on the minority groups.
Examples (100) and (103-104) indicate a rejection of bilingualism in public domains.
Example (105) refers to segregation created by the contribution of services in creating
separate communities. There is also an indication in example (104) that English may be
insufficient in certain semi-public spaces e.g. convenience stores. This is similar to Crystal's
(1997:122-130) description of pro-official English concerns, namely that non-immigrants are
sometimes required to have bilingual skills to participate in the labour market and in schools.
The examples reflect a rejection of bilingualism and a degree of expressed intolerance in
the society. According to Fishman (1972), language maintenance is more linked to tolerance
levels in a host society than to the degrees of possible language loyalty among immigrants.
Example (103) is an example of intolerance and criticism for not assimilating put into practice
in discriminatory actions included as an amendment. Examples (100) and (102) imply that the
removal of multilingual services in the society will drive immigrants to learn English out of
necessity. In connection to this, Barker et al (2001) show that the language vitality of minority
groups cause fear regarding the weakening of English in the respective society, which
consequently leads to actions to limit the opportunities of linguistic minorities.
Examples (100) and (102-104), and to some extent example (105), indicate that immigrant
groups are not learning the English language and therefore not following the expectation by
the dominant group of striving towards integration into the target culture through language
acquisition. These examples are an indication of a challenge to the societal culture of the
United States as a speech community characterised by the use of English. Interestingly, this
challenge is feared despite the reinforcement of laws requiring that children learn English and
the conditions of knowledge of English for government employment, entering the country and
obtaining citizenship (Kymlicka 2002:344-347; Mesthrie 2000:38). Also, examples (100-102)
and (104) imply a change in the asymmetrical relations of power reflected in the concern by
some members of the dominant group over the presence of diverse languages in the public
domain which may lead to Clyne's (1997:306) definition of symmetrical multilingualism. The
reference to companies using languages other than English in the society indicates that
businesses and social service agencies see non-English speaking groups as potential
customers and who form what Duranti (1997:76-78) defines as a parallel social and ethnic
identity group, making their minority languages into what Bourdieu calls 'cultural capital'
(Bourdieu 1991:14, Mesthrie and Deumert 2000:343) for businesses. In light of Morgan's
(2006) view that language domain is linked to social change and crisis, it is possible to state
that the examples imply that the economy can be said to attribute value to certain languages.
This may indicate that the US as an English-based speech community may be in crisis since
there is a lack of consensus of the domains in which the different languages should function in
the society. Thus, although the immigrants are not portrayed as actively mobilising for
recognition expressed in the reversal of language shift – in the manner described by Spolsky
(2004:130-131) – the economy is seen as influencing language shift patterns in examples
(100), (102), and (104-105) in the choice of using immigrant languages to reach customers.
The effect on the domains in which these languages are used may lead to conflict between
some of the different minority language speakers and English speakers. This may be seen as
slightly differing from Dixon and Simpson's (1994:1957) statement that language conflicts are
likely to arise if one language group has more advantages than others. In the case of the
examples in this study, conflict arises due to the fact that another language, namely that of the
minority group, is competing for the public space and the semi-public space in the American
society. It is possible to link this conflict to Freidreis and Tatalovich's (1997) conclusion that
there will be an increased focus on core values in public debates in the future.
Finally, the Sayers in examples (100-102) are for official English, sometimes included in
reported speech, and refer to the effects of businesses on English. The Sayer in example (103)
opposes the Inhofe amendment. In example (104), the Sayer expresses their position in an
editorial article as against legislation for a national language as possibly harmful since in
practice it is already a national language. The Sayer in example (105) does not refer to the
official English debate but instead criticises businesses and government agencies for
supplying services to non-English speakers and ignoring other groups such as Englishdominant Latinos or ethnic Americans and argues that this has negative effects on integration.
6.2.2 Speech act of Multilingualism as Cost
The speech act of Multilingualism as Cost focuses mainly on the distribution of state funds.
Example (106) from opinion article 10 "Our language unites us" in USA Today adds cost to
the argument of cohesion:
(106) Multilingual entitlements distress American unity and cost billions….
The use of the material process verb cost with the meaning of an expense is a demand for
reconsideration of allocation of money in the country. The negative meaning of cost is
enhanced by the use of a negative mental emotional process verb distress to describe the
negative effects of multilingualism. Moreover, reference to entitlements places the discussion
in the sphere of language rights to groups. This is a part of an opinion article written by
Senator Inhofe who proposed an amendment for English as a national language which in
practice would extend the suggested symbolic value to affect the function of English in the
society. The same author is more specific in describing costs in the next example (107) from
the same article:
(107) Unite America behind our proud national language, help new
immigrants advance by learning it and save taxpayer dollars, by making
English the national language.
The use of the material process verb save implies that by making English the national
language, money will not be wasted. The preposition by shows the means by which the saving
of money can be achieved i.e. through appointment of a national language. However, it is the
appointment of an official language that affects government expenditure on multilingual
services. In other words, establishing a language as the national language is a symbolic
gesture and therefore does not carry the same significance in government provision of
services in other languages as the appointment of an official language might. This extract is
also part of the same article mentioned in example (106) in this section and is written by Sen.
Inhofe. Examples (106-107) above can be linked to the statement made by Mr Miralgia in
article 4, who proposed an English-only ordinance saying that: People can still speak their
own language on their own, but we just wanted to establish English as the language for the
town of Pahrump so we don't have to publish everything in 7 or 10 different languages. The
interesting aspect in Mr Miralgia's statement is that the article specifically mentions that the
number of Hispanics has increased but the claim above is in relation to 7 or 10 languages.
Example (108) from article 3 in The New York Times gives a concrete scenario in which
money can be saved, namely the school system. The argument of illegal rental units can be
interpreted as superfluous to the information given in the rest of the paragraph. However, the
statements are linked by the conjunction and and may be seen as preparing the reader to think
negatively and also to relate criminality of illegal renting practices to the illegal students:
(108) But illegal rental units have popped up, he warned, and "the cost to
taxpayers of running our school system, if you throw in a couple of
illegal students at $15,000, $16,000 a student, that adds up."
The use of the noun cost carries a negative meaning which is enhanced by its being
preceded by the verbal process verb warned. The implication is that it is expensive to provide
classes of English to illegal students.
Further, the verbal process verb warned indicates the presence of danger explained by the
use of the adversative conjunction But introducing an irregular situation of the appearance of
illegal rental units and having as consequence an increase in cost by the anaphoric that in the
phrase that adds up. Also, the use of the conditional clause if followed by the material process
verbs throw and adds in the present tense implies an automatic result of higher cost on the
latter verb. The Sayer is Steve Lonegan, the Republican mayor of Bogota, who put forward a
suggestion to make English the official language of the town. It is also interesting to note the
view taken up by Jose Esparza, a supporter of the official English initiative and vice chairman
of the Arizona Latino Republican Association (article 9, USA Today), who also sees "an
irony" in voters' decision to deny state funding for English education. He refers to this as
conflicting measures and explains that it is because people, including Hispanics, want the
government to do something about illegal immigration. In contrast to the Sayers from articles
3 and 9, the author of opinion article 18 in the LA Times claims that English-first proponents
believe that English should be the official language of the government but that other
languages can exist in the community, and also that: in supporting English instruction for
immigrants demonstrates our confidence in their ability to pursue happiness here and
contribute to their families, communities and new country. The use of the verb support is not
followed by details of whether this help involves funding or if it is encouragement without
financial aid but in a separate paragraph the Sayer suggests a model of paid English
Summary and further conclusions: speech act of Multilingualism as Cost
The speech act of Multilingualism as Cost is based on threats related to taxes and expenses
incurred on citizens specifically concerning the presence of immigrants and the provision of
multilingual rights and education in English. Thus the arguments are from the point of view of
distribution of resources as studied in Grin and Vaillancourt (1999:10) and Crystal (1997:122130). The justification for removal of multilingual rights based on cost (Grin 2006:88) is
explicit in example (106). Examples (107-108) make implicit relations to reduction of costs
and the presence of immigrants by linking these to the establishment of a national language
and the maintenance of the educational system. Example (108) presents concrete figures
without a qualifier indicating a fact of the cost although the certainty of the information is
reduced by the presentation of two figures for the same phenomenon thus indicating an
approximation, possibly subjective, rather than a precise, objective figure. The discussion of
removal of multilingual services e.g. example (106), can also be linked to human security
(CHS 2003-2003; UNHDR 1994) if legal immigrants and (naturalised) American citizens
become affected by these cost-related measures. Also, all the Sayers in the extracts are in
favour of official English.
6.2.3 Speech act of Health and Safety
In the speech act of Health and Safety the discussion is mainly in connection to government
services and may also be linked to human rights issues of personal security. Example (109)
from article 7 is part of an opinion article written by Lisa Navarrete, who is vice president of
the National Council mentioned in the extract. The Sayer is against the official English
proposal, which Sen. Inhofe refers to as making English the national language. It is worth
noting the reference to official language in this article:
(109) National Council La Raza and its network of affiliates, which are deeply
engaged in the process of integrating immigrants in the American
society, opposed the Inhofe amendment to make English the official
language…because it would make it more difficult for government
agencies to communicate with people who speak other languages. This
is more than symbolism; it is misguided and even dangerous legislation.
Agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and
the Federal Emergency Management Agency would face new obstacles
when attempting to reach immigrant communities in the event of natural
disasters, pandemics or other threats to public health and safety.
The adjectives difficult, misguided and dangerous as well as the noun obstacles indicate a
negative effect in crisis situations if legislation for official language status takes place. Also
the use of the modal would implies a certainty that problems will arise in the future as a
consequence of intervention on language status. The relational process verb is indicates a
categorical characterisation of the action to legislate as defined by the negative adjectives
mentioned above. In example (110) in the news article 8 from USA Today there is a
distinction made between the different government institutions. One implication is that
election materials would not be available in different languages or even the implication that
bilingual education or English language education may not be supplied in public schools:
(110) Proposals vary but generally say government business must be
conducted in English, with exceptions for emergency services
The noun exceptions implies the centrality of multilingual services to the society. Also, it
is unclear what is included in emergency services but it nevertheless carries the meaning of
situations that need immediate action and are often temporary. The use of the modal must
indicates obligation or necessity that something happens.
The next example (111) from opinion article 24 in USA Today, in which the writer is
critical of the immigration bill and the Inhofe amendment passed in the Senate, links the issue
of multilingual entitlements to individual security and therefore indirectly to human rights:
(111) Look at Miami-Dade County, which adopted an ordinance in 1980 that
barred the county from doing business in any language other than
English. Thirteen years later, the county commission unanimously
repealed it. According to news accounts, public hospitals couldn't give
written instructions in Spanish on how patients should take
medications, and the county couldn't print some warning signs in
The negative implications for health and safety are a result of the imposition of the
ordinance described here using the modal couldn't. This indicates a lack of ability or
possibility for health and safety institutions to carry out one of their core tasks, namely that of
recommending or giving advice, through the use of the modal should, over medication. The
Spanish language is specifically pointed out, indicating therefore, its significance in the
country. The Sayer also explicitly states in the article that Legislating a "national language"
is, at best, meaningless, at worst harmful. In article 8, a Sayer who is against official English
measures states (in reported speech): …they deprive people of the right to information about
things as prenatal classes and patient billing records in a language they understand. The link
between multilingual services and rights with regard to health is emphasised by the use of the
material process verb deprive which indicates power relations between individuals promoting
official-English – and who very likely have good knowledge of English – and individuals that
do not know English or who have limited knowledge of English.
Example (112), from article 14 in the LA Times, shows the experience of a Mexican
couple when contacting health and government services in the adverbs almost always:
(112) The Peredas say life now, compared to when they arrived in the U.S., is much
more accommodating to Spanish speakers. Except at some medical and
government offices, a Spanish-speaking employee can almost always be found,
they said.
"It's changed," Manuel said. "Now Spanish is spoken wherever."
Manuel's usage of the verb changed and the conjunction wherever, along with the adverbs
almost always, can be related to some of the concerns expressed in the examples taken up in
the speech act of English-Optional Services (section 6.2.1).
Summary and further considerations: speech act of Health and Safety
The examples in the speech act of Health and Safety fall within the scope of external type of
rights to protect minorities against decisions taken in the larger society as discussed in
Kymlicka (2002:341-342). The examples indicate that the liberal ideology of nation building
of common membership and equal accessibility in the society and its institutions through a
shared language affects minorities negatively (Kymlicka 2002:344-347). The denial of
language rights for minority interaction with public institutions in these examples indicates
decided measures towards Skutnabb-Kangas, Phillipson and Rannut's (1995:3) description of
the linguistic and cultural assimilation of minorities, although example (112) also indicates a
social change in the linguistic landscape. The examples show a resistance to the reinforcement
and reproduction of cultural hegemony, and thus may indicate, from Morgan's (2006)
perspective, a degree of instability of the English-based speech community in certain regions
of the United States.
The issue of health and safety brings forward the existence of parallel monolingual groups
that do not participate in the speech community that defines America as a state. Bloomfield's
(1993:42) study points out that there are non-English speaking groups in the US which from
the examples in the speech act of Health and Safety are related to issues of security. Examples
(111-112) indicate a particular language group, namely speakers of Spanish. Examples (109110) refer to the ability to communicate to other non-English speakers signalling an absence
of social cohesion through a common shared language and therefore not qualifying for the
definition of speech community as suggested by Mesthrie (2000:37).
Example (111) shows that coercion by removing access to other languages does not lead
individuals to shift language for purposes of health and safety, thus creating difficulties at
least in the short term, for public hospitals and the country as a whole. This also implies that
Bolinger's (1975:333) view that motives for the formation of speech communities can be
based on security does not apply to issues related to health. The threats to public safety in
examples (110-111) relate to individual security as an issue concerning state institutions and
practices, whereas example (109) refers to the threat in situations of community or state-level
emergencies. It is not possible to claim from the extracts whether the existence of parallel
communities especially Spanish is a sign of resistance to the official language in Duranti's
(1997:76-78) way of thinking or just an involuntary consequence of the changes taking place
in the society due to the size of immigrant groups and/or the replenishment of new immigrants
from neighbouring countries – in Buzan's terms also described as a change in the physical
base of a state (Buzan 1991).
Example (111) is an indication of an unsuccessful action to deal with establishing more
significantly the position of English due to the presence of multilingualism. However, the
revocation of the decision for English-only is also a recognition of the difficulty of dealing
with the problem through prohibition and the need for the American society to guarantee the
health and safety of individuals and the state as in example (109).
The examples of the speech act of Health and Safety indicate that immigrants lack the
dominant cultural capital as defined by Bourdieu (1991:14, 30; 56; see also Mesthrie and
Deumert 2000:343). These examples are further a demonstration of symbolic dominance in
which the imposition of monolingual norms regarding the legitimate competence in the
formal market has the capacity to threaten the safety of those that have not acquired that
6.2.4 Speech act of Opportunity
The speech act of Opportunity deals with the view of language as a tool for advancement by
different social agents. In example (113), from news article 14 in the LA Times, the group
singled out is Latinos:
(113) Latinos see the language as the key to success
There is a specification of the identity of immigrants concerned Latinos marking them as a
given homogeneous entity that can be isolated from other groups. The mental process verb see
is used with the meaning to understand and perceive the importance of something, in this case
language for advancement. Also, the simile characterises language as well as gives the
opinion of the Senser. The source to example (113) is indicated by the following words: Pew
research shows. Example (114) from the same article 14 identifies a couple Manuel and Rosa
Pereda, who have studied English for many years while working at the same time:
(114) The more English the couple learned, they assumed, the better jobs they
could get and the more money they could send home to their families in
The view of language as a tool for economic progress is indicated by the adjective better
and the indefinite determiner more for jobs and money respectively. The use of the mental
process verb assumed indicates ideology in its meaning of accepting something as true before
having proof that it is so. This must be weighed against the fact that the extract is in reported
speech. The carrier of the mental process of the assumption, as given by the journalist, is a
couple with relatives in Mexico, thus indicating their affiliation to the Spanish language. The
extract is in the journalist's own wording. In example (115) of article 14, the names of two
specific individuals are given and their views on the usefulness of their mother tongue in the
(115) For Rosa and Manuel Pereda, Spanish is essential at work. Rosa sells
cemetery plots to Spanish-speaking families and Manuel, a school bus
driver, speaks English to the teachers and children but Spanish to
The adjective essential in the relational process is marked by the static implication of is to
describe the role of Spanish at work as established. The conjunction but indicates the use of
Spanish as necessary when communicating with certain groups. The couple is indicated as
knowing Spanish and the choice of words is given by the journalist.
Example (116), from article 8 "Push for 'official' English heats up" published in the USA
Today has the perspective of a person that is the president of an organisation that has inside
knowledge of the views of immigrants. The Sayer positions himself against the movement to
declare English the official language of the country:
(116) "People know the key to getting ahead in this country is learning
English," says John Trasvioa, interim president of the Mexican
American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which opposes the
official-English measures.
The instrumental use of English is indicated in the use of key as a tool and the material
process verb "get" in the phrasal verb getting ahead indicating progress and is accentuated by
the relational process verb is indicating a static relation characterising English. The reference
to social mobility achieved with knowledge of English as a tool is given by a Sayer that
opposes the official English movement and who belongs to an organisation that is against the
movement to make English official.
The source for the information given in the next example (117) from article 14 in the LA
Times is described as included in the results obtained in a Pew research study and therefore
containing expert knowledge. The organisation that has carried out this research is given in
the article as not supporting the immigration bill although at the same time it is described as a
nonpartisan organisation:
(117) Latinos recognize that learning English is key to economic success,
according to the study, which was based on survey data collected
between 2002 and 2007.
In this example, Latinos are specified as a group of concern. The mental process verb
recognize indicates cognition of something already known. Also, there is metaphoric
characterisation of language as a tool through a relational process verb is implying a static
identification of the position of English in the society. Moreover there is reference to an
expert source which later in the article is presented as against the official English movement.
Example (118) below from the same article 14 includes the view of one of the writers in the
organisation. In the utterance, the Sayer D'Vera Cohn does not include information on
whether he is also representing the views held by immigrants in contrast with example (117)
(118) "The ability to speak English is a crucial skill for getting a good job and
integrating into the wider society," said D'Vera Cohn, a senior writer at
the research center, a non partisan research organization that does not
advocate immigration policy. "Language is a vehicle for assimilation."
In the example above there is a reference to language as a skill, i.e. a means for achieving
certain ends e.g. a good job (with the adjectival use of good to indicate a value judgment), in a
relational process indicated by is. The Sayer is given as a neutral expert but working for a
centre that is later described in the article as against the official English measure. Reference to
language by use of the noun vehicle indicates it is a means for a goal in this case assimilation
through language. Also, the coordination of the clauses by and linking job to integrating
serves to keep them as separate but linked events in the society, while indicating that they
have equal importance.
Example (119) from article 24 "Press 2 for pointless" in the USA Today uses the same verb
recognize as example (117):
(119) As in earlier generations, today's immigrants recognize that speaking
English is their ticket to a better life
The metaphoric use of the noun ticket with its implication of a right to travel or enter a
journey by means of a transport vehicle implies the reference to English as a tool or vehicle
for progress indicated by the positive adjective better. The author in this opinion article is
against the proposed amendment by Sen. Inhofe to limit the supply of federal services and
information to the English language. Example (116) from article 8 above uses the verb know
to indicate the same perception by immigrants. Opinion article 18 from a supporter for official
English explains: They deserve the opportunity to pursue happiness in the U.S. that comes
with speaking English.
Example (120), from article 14 in the LA Times, can be compared to example (115) above
from the same article since the latter refers to the role Spanish for a Hispanic couple's working
possibilities in the US. Example (120) – given below – gives the view of another Hispanic
individual regarding the link between English and economic advancement:
(120) Though Mancia said he has learned enough in the last six years to
communicate with some employers, he believes he could get more and
higher-paying work if he were fluent.
"I have lost job opportunities because I don't speak English," he said….
The view of high level proficiency in English as a necessity for advancement is introduced
by the concessive conjunction Though contrasted with a clause of possibility in the modal
could enhanced by the hypothetical meaning of were and conditional if.
Moreover, the reporting clauses, Mancia said, he said distances the journalist from the
information. There is a lack of clarity regarding the individual's self report on his proficiency
gliding from the adverb enough to a hypothetical notion of lack of fluency to not speaking
English at all I don't speak, which may also indicate problems related to the reliability of
results from census studies or interviews. The Sayer, Mancia, is an immigrant day laborer
from Salvador who says that he wakes up every day at 5 a.m. in the morning to study English
before going to look for work as a construction worker. In the same article, Rodriguez, a 27year-old El Salvadorian, says that he felt his parents encountered disadvantages because they
couldn't speak English.
In the following example (121) from article 9 in USA Today, the Sayer is Jose Esparza,
vice chairman of the Arizona Latino Republican Association. He is also later described in the
article as having supported the official English initiative. Esparza states that there are
conflicting measures being passed such as denial of state funding for learning English and
explains: ...the public, including Hispanics, is frustrated that illegal immigration continues to
be a problem and they want the federal government to take action. The Hispanics being
referred to in this extract are those that have a legal status in the US and most of them may be
citizens. This can be compared to the organisation DASA-Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable
America which aims to limit both illegal and legal immigration. This organisation is run by
minorities and immigrants (also mentioned in example (25), article 13 in the speech act of
Obligation). Below in example (121) is a quote from Jose Esparza:
(121) Hispanic support is a sign that "the majority of Hispanics believe that
the key to success in America is to learn the language of the land, learn
English is indirectly metaphorically referred to as a tool key to success. The use of the
definite article the indicates an understanding that a certain key exists which in this case is
English. Since there is no indication that there are other keys, it is possible to infer that
English is the sole occupant of this role. The use of Hispanics implies an us/them distinction
between Hispanics and non-Hispanics. Hispanics are Sensers in this example indicated in the
use of the mental process verb believe. In the same article, 9, an opponent to the English-only
measure in Arizona that is described as having received 48% of Hispanic support, says that
these Hispanic supporters do not identify with the immigrant situation since they have lived in
the US for generations. In a similar train of thought, the authors of articles 18 and 23 give
scenarios in which they take up residence in different countries. The author of article 18 is in
favour of the official English initiative, and says that if he moved to Spain he would learn
Spanish because it would provide him with opportunities. It is not possible to position the
Sayer of article 23 as regards the debate for official English due to his use of irony, but there
are indications that he is against literacy tests for immigrants. His example is if he moved to
Australia he would definitely learn to speak Australian but also refers to his grandfather who
instead of focusing on learning English, worked to support his family in the US. Although the
American society has changed since the arrival of the author's grandfather, this reference
brings into focus the difference between learning a language for advancement and the need to
use a language for survival in the job market. Article 18 does not refer to the choice of
priorities many immigrants have to make, namely to focus on language learning or to earn a
living as the first priority.
Example (122), opinion article 10 "Our language unites us", USA Today, is written by Sen.
Inhofe who proposed an amendment to the immigration bill declaring English the national
language but in which the content indicated domain restrictions on other languages.
(122) Speaking English well enough for everyday life is a guaranteed way for
new immigrants to increase their earning potential, lift academic
achievement and enhance career options. That's the clear,
compassionate message we need to send
The relational process verb is indicates a static characterisation of English as a means to
economic improvement along with academic and career progress. Also, proficiency in English
is described vaguely by adverbs well and enough leaving the assessment open to relative
The pointing out of new immigrants excludes those that are "old immigrants" indicating a
boundary between those that have newly arrived and those that are seen as established,
although it is noteworthy that the boundaries between "old" and new immigrants may vary.
The establishment of this boundary is likely to carry power implications. The Sayer in
example (123) below from article 18 is in favour of official English and implies that the
measure for official English is only for the benefit of immigrants – similar to the use of
compassionate in example (122) before:
(123) These multilingual documents discourage immigrants from learning
English as rapidly as possible, limiting their ability to engage in a truly
common political culture. Rather than expanding opportunities for new
Americans, these mandates help limit them.
The link between knowledge of English and opportunities is given as natural; in this case
the reference is to participation in a culture that is modified by common political indicating
shared interests and beliefs and a form of collective entity. It remains unclear whether it is
participation in the society as a whole that is at stake or whether the implication is only
referred to those related to the sphere of politics. Another example of the argument of
advancement through English by an official English supporter is given in LA Times opinion
article 18 in which English is described as the language of economic success and upward
mobility. The statement carries an implicit consequence thinking, namely that if you learn
English, you will succeed financially. The author, however, clarifies that he is an English First
supporter and not an English-only supporter and thus is only in favour of English being used
by the government (allowing other languages to be used in communities and commerce). He
further describes English-only intentions as wanting to outlaw other languages. In relation to
the anti-official English measure the author of opinion article 20 in the San Francisco
Chronicle asks if there is any point in making English official based on the description of the
goals of English First since other languages will still be used in the country.
Examples (124-125) below from article 16 in the LA Times refer to the competition
between two minority groups and indicate that language is just one of the possible aspects at
(124) Stereotypes, language skills and the lowest price come into play as
black Americans and Latino immigrants compete on an Atlanta
street…Outside the Home Depot in Ponce de Leon Avenue, no one
engages in theoretical debates about whether illegal immigrants are
competing for jobs with Americans.
Here, the competition unfolds whenever a truck pulls into the parking
lot, its driver looking for day laborers
Language is listed as a means for permitting the possessor of the skill to enter into the job
market described in the material process verbs compete, competing and the noun competition.
The choice and repetition of the different forms of compete indicates a win-lose situation
between the social groups i.e. black Americans and Latino immigrants (the latter are also
indirectly linked to illegal immigrants). Although no reference is made to particular working
skills in this paragraph, the article also refers to Latinos as being able to offer specialised
skills e.g. as dry wall finisher.
The use of the coordinator and places all the items in the listing as holding equal
importance. Based on this aspect, the order of the items could have been rearranged with the
assumption that no change to the level of importance and grammatical hierarchy would occur.
Moreover, the reference to the location Atlanta street adds specificity and familiarity.
However, the indefinite article an may indicate an everyday occurrence implying that this
competition is taking place everywhere so the actual name of the street is unnecessary since
the situation is implied to be a general phenomenon. The extract is written by the journalist of
the article. Example (125) below from the same article 16 explains the competition in more
(125) The men said there were times when it helped to be a black American.
Some employers refused to hire illegal immigrants, and some jobs
required a native speaker's command of English.
English is referred to as a necessary tool for employment indicated by the modal verb
required for obligation. The extract above is written using the journalist's words reporting
from the sources. It is interesting to note the reference to the level of proficiency required and
the implied uniform view of all language varieties of English as equal in value. The text
however refers earlier to the possession of a Caribbean lilt as an advantage for work since
Jamaicans are seen to manage three jobs, and the need to avoid speaking all alley --- if you
can't talk right --- if your vocabulary messed up, they'll probably be like, 'Oh, he's been to
prison,'"he said. It is significant that the negative modal can't indicates ability in the sense of
acquired knowledge or skill, therefore allowing for a dynamic view of language skills.
Example (126) in opinion article 19, titled "Immigrant paradox", published in the San
Francisco Chronicle indicates two perspectives. Firstly, that it is taken for granted that
learning English will help people advance. Secondly, the content of the extract is witness to
the supply and demand forces, namely that immigrants are willing to pay to take courses in
English and that companies supplying services – in English language learning – are trying to
reach them through advertisements:
(126) And yes, Spanish-language TV does brim with commercials from
companies that, for a price, will teach you English. These ads always
encourage folks to learn English – in order to get a job and earn more
money, and probably pay more taxes.
English is indicated as a means – signalled by the idiom in order to marking an intention –
of attaining economic benefits. The emphasis is on an abundance of adverts targeting Spanish
speakers with promises of future social mobility. The advertisements indicate a sequence of
events, namely if you learn English you will get a job and earn more money. The use of the
verb brim indicates a large quantity of commercials thus referring to a widespread
phenomenon. This opinion article does not indicate explicitly the position of the author as
regards initiatives for official English. The extract indicates that there are enough Spanish
speakers in the society to make them attractive as a target group to advertisers.
As in example (126) above, examples (127-128) below from article 19 give further
examples of how the presence of immigrants has benefited certain areas of employment and
(127) Since the 2001 attacks [terrorist attacks in the United States], federal
immigration officials have naturalized 24,745 military service members.
More than 10,000 scored well enough to use their foreign-language
skills in military operations, allowing for a "linguistically more
competent military," said David Chu, undersecretary of defense for
personnel and readiness, also quoted in the AP story.
The use of the material process verb allowing implies a conscious action of letting an
increase in language competence take place and thus indicating a desire for bilingual speakers
in the military. However, there is usage of indeterminacy or vagueness characterised by
positive qualifiers more than, well enough, and more competent. The Sayer is the same as in
example (126), and encourages newspapers to show more diverse information regarding the
issue of immigrants and language in the society noting that English is not the only language
the citizens are exposed to in their daily life. Societal bilingualism is visible in example (128)
(128) The Sears store …just outside Washington, has store signs hanging from
the ceiling in English and Spanish. Bethesda is one of the richest
suburbs in the country. But store managers know that many of their
customers also speak Spanish and they want them to be able to shop
with ease. U.S. businesses know that immigrants have money to spend
and they want it.
The mental process verb want in combination with the anaphoric reference to money
through it serves as an explanation for the use of Spanish and English in advertising by the
store. Spanish speakers are regarded as desirable targets for companies. Also, the superlative
adjective richest referring to a particular community describes, by extension, the buying
potential of these customers. Again the Sayer is the same as the two examples above and does
not indicate clearly his position as regards the issue but instead describes the situation in the
In example (129) from article 22, the Sayer, Sen. Dodd, a Democrat from Connecticut,
puts forward the value of promoting multilingualism for global participation. This view can
be compared to examples (126) and (128) above in which the effect of multilingualism was
seen in relation to the domestic arena, i.e. within the US:
(129) Dodd agreed that the question was divisive and – noting that he spoke
Spanish – made a pitch for more language training. "We have too few of
our people in our country that can understand second languages," he
said. Sounding a lot like President Bush, Dodd insisted that because we
live in a global economy, "we need to encourage more diversity"
instead of wasting energy arguing about whether we should designate
one official language in this country.
The importance of second language knowledge for comparative advantage in the global
economy can be inferred by the use of the adverb too in front of the indefinite pronoun few
emphasising a negative situation combined with the modal of ability can. The extract also
describes an implied tendency towards monolingualism in the United States. The auxiliary
combination need to indicates an obligation through inference of necessity as a consequence
or reason, indicated by the conjunction because, of the global economy. The positive view of
diversity in this example can be compared to the criticism directed by residents in Pahrump,
Nye County, to the English-only ordinance proposed by a town board member in article 4 in
The New York Times who claim that: [t]he language ordinance also has burnished an image
of Pahrump as an Old West backwater….Census data shows it is one of the fastest-growing
communities in the nation.
Also, group identification in example (129) is indicated by the use of we and our although
leaving unclear who precisely is included in the reference to our people, that is, it is left open
if first, second and third generation immigrants are included. Nevertheless, the reader and the
speaker – Sen. Dodd – are assumed to form part of a shared collective referred to by the use
of possessive our and the collective we. The speaker is given authority by extension through
the reference to his similarity to President Bush. The viewpoint of the speaker is indicated in
the material process verb wasting.
The image of immigrants as active and contributing members in the US is taken up in
example (130), article 19, published in the LA Times:
(130) Immigrants earn a great deal of money and they pay taxes on that
money. That's why when you call the Jackson-Hewitt 800 number, you
can hear the information in English or en español.
The role of immigrants in general as consumers for the companies is based on their
capacity to earn as workers. The Spanish language español is specifically mentioned
alongside English as part of the tax service provided by the Jackson-Hewitt 800 number. The
modal can may be read as indicating a possibility of access as well as describing a typical
state. This extract is part of an opinion article encouraging newspapers to show more diversity
as regards the linguistic and immigrant situation in the country.
Summary and further considerations: speech act of Opportunity
The speech act of Opportunity can be seen as divided into four issues. The first refers to
English as a tool for opportunity in the labour market, as also mentioned in MacKaye (1990)
and Crystal (1997:122-130). The second issue refers to the use of languages other than
English in the labour market. Thirdly, companies are given as using Spanish in their
advertising in order to attract customers. Lastly, the view of Spanish as a resource in the
global market appears in one of the examples and also appears in Crystal's (1997:117-128)
work on justifications given by the anti-official English advocates.
The expressions of English as providing opportunities for advancement implies that
sharing a common language does not automatically need to include sharing a feeling of
national identity. The reasons for learning the language are instrumental and attached to social
mobility and not to create a feeling of belonging in the community as would be the case if the
immigrant was positive towards assimilation. This is in line with Hymes' view that sharing the
same linguistic knowledge does not imply unity and that distinction should be made between
participating in a speech community and being a member of it (Hymes 1974:47, 50-51).
Instead, this speech act indicates the guarantee of the position of English as dominant through
the necessity to learn it for advancement. This is in line with Clyne's (1997:308) view that
long-term use of languages depends on the needs of individuals. Using Clyne's (1997:306)
definition of language hierarchies, an asymmetrical multilingual situation in the United States
favouring English is indicated in examples (113-114), (116-120), (122-123) and (125-126).
Further, the link of English to social mobility positions it as the legitimate competence in
accordance with Bourdieu's (1991:14, 30, 54; see also Mesthrie and Deumert 2000:343)
terms. As a legitimate competence it can also guarantee the conversion of an individual's
cultural capital into economic capital. This can be related to Grin's (2006:80-81) findings that
Hispanics that spoke English in the southern states earned more than those that did not.
However, their income was nonetheless lower than that of the white population.
The modal can in example (130) may further indicate a de facto change in the linguistic
landscape in which the availability of Spanish alongside English may be described as a typical
state. Examples (115) and (127-130) indicate that Spanish and other languages are becoming
established as cultural capital in certain markets, from the perspective of Bourdieu's (1991:1419; see also Mesthrie and Deumert 2000:343) approach. This phenomenon may indicate
social change in the symbolic domination of English and the advantages experienced
automatically by English speakers in the labour market and as targets of advertisements. The
establishment of Spanish in these public arenas may contribute to language maintenance
patterns described in Mesthrie and Leap (2000:253) in which language maintenance takes
place when less powerful languages compete for the social space with languages that have
regional and social dominance. This may even lead to language conflict due to the new
languages acquiring more domains of use. Barker et al (2001) state that although the Spanishlanguage group is increasing, they do not present a challenge to English speaking groups since
they still have limited economic and political influence as well as lack competitive
educational levels – a view that may be questioned based on examples (127-130).
Example (115) indicates the value of Spanish for the individual in the labour market.
Examples (128) and (130) demonstrate the interest that companies/services have in reaching
Spanish speakers as consumers. The situations in these two examples contribute towards
promoting social change and increasing the value of Spanish as well as challenging what is
described by Giddens (2001:256) as the hegemonic spread of 'Anglo' culture in the country
throughout its history. These events may stimulate what Valdes (as cited in Gonzalez and
Melis 2001:9) describes as multilingualism being linked to notions of what is un-American.
Following Hymes' ideas of a speech community as an agreement of rules of grammar and
usage, the examples in this study show that the economic sector can create deviation from the
rules of usage of language in a community. Economy can also be said to affect what Ager
(2001) calls the image of the country as representing a unified speech community based on
the English language. In other words, economic activities can instead help the development of
alternative communicative activities which may lead, in view of Duranti's (1997:82) focus on
the effect of communicative activities, to the construction of a parallel speech community.
However, the repetition of the value of English for opportunity in the examples helps sustain
the cultural hegemony of English which falls into Morgan's view of a speech community
involving an agreement of values attached to it but a lack of consensus about its
implementation (Morgan 2006:5), which in the data is shown by the occurrence of Spanish in
the semi-public space. Moreover, interdiscursivity is present in the similes and metaphoric use
of English as an instrument, i.e. as a key in examples (113), (116-117) and (121), as a vehicle
in example (118), and as a ticket in example (119).
Furthermore, examples (124-125) can be related to Appiah's (2005:66) view of available
labels that construct the identities of the individuals that are in competition in the labour
market, namely black Americans, identified by race, Latinos and illegal immigrants. There is
also reference to the proficiency of a native speaker. The use of race to distinguish 'black'
Americans indicates further that Fishman's de-ethnicisation process related to culture and
language (Fishman 1966:399) can include a process of de-racialisation in which language loss
is evident but racial identity is still maintained. A possible question is why de-ethnicisation or
de-racialisation e.g in example (125) is not followed by the removal of labels positioning
individuals in their minority group – which also constitutes the same group from which they
have linguistically distanced themselves? Thus, parallel social identities are constructed in the
examples with maintenance of minority boundaries through the use of 'us' and 'them' even
though full linguistic assimilation has taken place, as in the case of racial boundaries of
African-Americans. In light of Ager's (2001:74-75) view of an image based on a projection of
worth that is perceived, the situation of black Americans in the data indicates that the actual
worth of English as a unifying language may be different from the perceived and projected
worth it carries for the individuals and groups outside the dominant group. The
marginalisation, stigmatisation and non-recognition (see Taylor 1994a:32-34) of these
assimilated groups are thus linked to their socio-economic status and their socio-cultural
identity (see Kymlicka 2002:329).
Moreover, examples (125) and (127) refer to the levels of proficiency in language that are
viewed as skills by certain employers. In the case of examples (127) and (129), languages
other than English are elevated to the level of resources for the purposes of use in the
international sphere (cf. Crystal 1997:117-128). In a wider perspective, these may be related
to aspects of establishing trust in intercultural communication as mentioned by Gumperz
through avoidance of situations causing misunderstandings in communications (Gumperz
1982:7-8). Interestingly, according to some individuals from the minority groups, their
employability is sometimes based on the employer's prejudices in such a way that advantages
of knowing English are undermined by racial prejudices as in example (124) by the comma
and the conjunction and separating stereotypes, language skills and price.
In sum, the speech act of Opportunity applies to the economic sector and includes those
that know English and those that know Spanish. In some cases, as in the case of examples
(127) and (129), languages other than English may be seen as resources e.g. in the military or
global economy. The increase in the value of languages other than English in the different
domains, in the long term, may be linked to future expressions of inter-ethnolinguistic
conflicts based on Stavenhagen's (1990) claim that conflicts between ethnic groups are often
caused by groups contending for resources and power.
6.2.5 Speech act of Immigrants as a Labour Resource
The speech act of Immigrants as a Labour Resource indicates the complexity of "pull" factors
in the job market. In example (131) from article 4 "Stars and Strife: Flag Rule Splits Town",
The New York Times, the Sayer does not consider that there are employers behind each
immigrant that is hired, thus the material verb take used in the extract could also be replaced
by "give" or "offer" forming the sentences "they are given jobs…" and "they are offered
(131) "They come in here, they take the jobs, they take away the services that
belong to real Americans and they don't respect our flag," said Mr.
Harvard, who was born in Nevada. "It's not right."
The use of take is further interesting from the fact that there is no specification as to
whether the Sayer is only referring to illegal Hispanic immigrants or whether he is including
all Hispanic individuals, even the naturalised ones and legal guest-workers (this latter group
would be paying taxes and thus entitled to the same services mentioned by the Sayer). The
example above establishes the perception of immigrants as part of the labour force. This
example is included in the context of the growth of Hispanics in the town of Pahrump. Thus,
it is possible to state that the they refers specifically to Hispanics (legal and illegal) placed in
opposition to real Americans. The Sayer is described as one of the old-timers who is unnerved
by the apparent growth of Hispanics e.g. seen in the student population of the four local
elementary schools in the town of Pahrump. In this town, a board member, Mr Miralgia,
moved to declare English the official language of the town in an ordinance called the English
Language and Patriot Reaffirmation Ordinance that also governed rules for flying the
national flag. The idea of immigrants taking away jobs is more explicit in article 16 where a
black labourer, Anthony Curtis 42, expresses his frustration over Latino presence at a day
labourer's depot in Atlanta in the following way: "They pick up the majority of work" and
"They dominate the corner".
In example (132) from article 2 "An Immigration bottom Line" in The New York Times,
the Sayer generalises the negative conditions of the workplaces available to illegal immigrants
and also to newcomers (and indirectly includes guest-workers that are legally in the country):
(132) It [anaphoric reference to an immigration bill] must not create a servant
class of "guest workers" shackled to their employers….It must impose
enforcement of labor laws, so unscrupulous employers cannot exploit
Immigrants are implicitly described as belonging to a lower class of workers that are
prisoners or that have no freedom. It is also worth mentioning that employers are constructed
as exploiters that need to be regulated by law. The use of the modal can in cannot implies that
without legislation a silent permission is given to exploitation. Thus, the modal can, cannot,
may also be interpreted as regarding an ability to exploit. The extract is in an editorial in
which the author wants a "good" and just immigration bill. The verb shackled is used
interdiscursively since it is a term more associated to prisoners. In this case it is the
assumption that illegal immigrants do not voluntarily offer their services but are instead
"caught" or imprisoned and denied freedom. The description of employers in this example can
be related to an implied lack of trustworthiness of a possible employer in opinion article 23:
…though I hope you'll be more careful in checking out the government contractors than you
were with your personal ones, to make sure they aren't using illegal immigrants to pour
concrete. The reference to personal is given in opposition to government, which is used in
combination with an anaphoric reference to the noun contractors to avoid repetition: The
Sayer in this extract directs a comment to Republican Representative Tom Tancredo, who is
responsible for introducing a proposal of an amendment to the Constitution to declare English
the official language and who also supports the building of a wall between Mexico and the
Example (133) from article 4 in The New York Times contains the words of an American
who although he is not against immigration from Mexico, provides a description of
immigrants as a labour force that does not represent them as equal to other Americans:
(133) "…I do not see the Mexican immigrants as a burden on me or my
community at all. I see them as trying to feed their families and doing
jobs other Americans don't want to do"
The immigrants are specified as Mexicans and as capable of performing undesirable jobs.
The use of the indefinite determiner other in front of Americans brings doubt to whether the
Mexican immigrants are themselves also Americans and not illegal immigrants. The Sayer is
a white individual of immigrant background Mr Tamburrino, 59, who protested against the
Patriot Ordinance that set rules for flying foreign flags and which also included a declaration
of English as the town's official language. Mr and Mrs Tamburrino had eggs thrown at their
house when they protested against the Ordinance by flying Italian and Polish flags to
represent Mr Tamburrino's ancestry.
The information in example (134) from article art 16, adds new information to the
qualities of immigrants as labourers:
(134) Gibbs backed away. The Latinos began negotiating with the driver, who
hired one of them for $12 an hour.
"Drywall finisher – that's a speciality," Gibbs muttered as he walked
back to his spot on the sidewalk near a Dunkin' Donuts. "Plus, he was
only paying $9 an hour."
This extract gives an alternative portrayal of Latinos as offering specialised work at a low
price. The speaker, Sam Gibbs, 47, is an African-American and a day labourer who is
described in the following: One chilly afternoon, Gibbs, 47, sprinted like a teenager toward a
red pickup, hawking his services to two black men inside shouting "Take a brother with you!"
Gibbs pleaded. "I'm from South Carolina!" He had beaten out a sizeable group of Latinos
who surrounded the truck. The contractors needed on this occasion a drywall finisher as
shown in the extract. Example (135) below from the same article 16, makes explicit the "pull"
factor that has attracted Mexicans to the US labour market:
(135) Lester Jackson noted that the going rate for an unskilled job out here
was $10 an hour. "For a Mexican, that's a big deal," he said. "You only
make $3 a week in Mexico…. They're going to work 10 times harder
than an American will."
The group specified in this example are Mexicans. They are also described as hard
workers. The speaker is a 53 year old African-American and a day labourer, who further
states (given in reported speech) that the hustle of the Latino workers reminded him of his
father's attitude when opportunities for blacks began to expand after the demise of Jim Crow
laws. His father, he said, was thrilled to have a chance to get a decent-paying job, even if it
wasn't a particularly glamorous one. 15
From another perspective, example (136), article 19, refers to citizenship acquisition and
can be linked to example (127) in the speech act of Opportunity:
(136) However, the armed forces of the United States actively recruit people
that some call aliens. That's right. You don't have to be a U.S. citizen to
fight and die for this country. The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and
Marines simply require that you are legally in the United States
The perception of who is included under the term aliens seems to vary since the word in
this example can be seen as including legal immigrants although it is often used in relation to
illegal immigrants. The extract is part of an opinion article in which the writer is not against
The Jim Crow laws were a part of segregationist and discriminatory legislation. The US Supreme Court
declared that according to the Constitution, it was allowed to have "separate but equal" facilities for blacks and
whites. In the South, this was extended to laws that made it difficult for the black population to vote. After the
second World War several measures weakened the Jim Crow laws but it was in 1968, as a result of several
initiatives including the Civil rights Act, 1964, the Voting Rights Act, 1965, and finally the Fair Housing Act,
1968 that "officially ended the ability of any state to discriminate, disenfranchise, or otherwise restrict any
individual on the basis of race" (The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers 2003).
immigrant presence in the country but has written this article with the intention of drawing
attention to the diversity in the country and the degree to which immigrants participate in the
US. The author further writes that Newspapers owe it to their readers to bring more light than
heat to this issue that is literally changing the face of our communities.
Example (137) from article 22 in the San Francisco Chronicle further characterises
(137) In an interview with McClatchy Newspapers, Bush said, that growing up
in Texas, he learned to "recognize the decency and hard work and
humanity of Hispanics."
The Sayer, President Bush, refers to Hispanics as hard workers. The mental process
recognize pushes forward/implies an already existing fact namely that Hispanics constitute a
hard-working group, which is further strengthened by the trustworthiness acquired from the
political position of the Sayer i.e. President Bush. Examples (138) and (139) from articles 4
and 2 respectively, published in The New York Times further qualifies immigrants as workers:
(138) "There's an immigration problem in the whole country," Mr. Romero
said, "but as far as them taking other people's jobs in Pahrump, I
guarantee you business would hire the most qualified and legalized
people if they were available."
The statement begins with a categorical truth that establishes immigration as a problem in
the use of There's which is transformed by the contrasting clause beginning with the
conjunction but justifying the requirement for immigrants not only as labour but qualified,
and filling a locally existing (indicated by condition if) labour/skill gap. This is further
strengthened by the use of the modal would of certainty describing an imaginary situation.
This example brings up the status of immigrants as necessary for businesses. The Sayer is a
Mexican male 36, owner of two Mexican restaurants and a convenience store in a town called
Pahrump, whose mayor proposed an official English ordinance. In a similar way, news article
21 in the San Francisco Chronicle also indicates the value immigrants have for employers in
different sectors. This is emphasised by the informal noun raft indicating a large number
followed by a listing with from…to to put forward the reasoning behind the
demonstration/walkout of a "Day without Immigrants" in which the organisers hoped would
show Americans how dependent they are on immigrant labor in a raft of industries, from
restaurants, hotels and nursing homes to meatpacking, farms and construction. Example
(139) below however, gives a negative image of the relationship between employers and
(139) The value of illegal immigrants to many employers is their fearful
willingness to work for low pay in bad conditions
The combination of using the noun value describing the worth of something that can be
exchanged with the material verb work indicates the view held of illegal immigrants as a
particular kind of resource, namely exchanging their labour for low pay in bad conditions.
There is contradiction in the negative use of value in this example in relation to its positive
meaning as something of worth that can be used in exchange. The Sayer of this extract is the
author of the opinion article from which it is taken and claims to be in favour of a good
immigration bill which he/she qualifies in the following way: must honor the nation's values
and be sensible enough to work.
Example (140) from news article 4 in The New York Times shows the use of workers with
limited proficiency in English affecting their ability to communicate:
(140) When Michael Miralgia retired and moved to this booming bedroom
community last year, he found that the builders and landscapers
working on his new home spoke so little English that he was unable to
communicate with them.
So after his appointment this year to fill a vacancy on the town board,
Mr Miralgia, 67, proposed an ordinance declaring English the official
language of Pahrump.
The use of the adjective unable in combination with the verb "be" in the past tense was
indicates a dichotomised situation that took place i.e. that no understanding was possible. The
ability to communicate was removed as indicated by the prefix un-. Although the sentence
also allows that the individuals spoke English, the emphasising adverb so with the indefinite
determiner little indirectly justifies a scenario with existing impossibility of communication. It
is significant to point out that the use of little permits room for subjective interpretation of
degree i.e. what is necessary to understand and communicate, therefore, allowing a wide
readership to empathise with this situation. Finally, the act of proposing the ordinance is
presented as a direct consequence of the Sayer's personal experience with a group of low
proficiency speakers. There is no reference in the article as to whether the workers were
competent in their building and landscaping skills.
Summary and further considerations: speech act of Immigrants as a Labour Resource
Immigrants in the data are represented as a labour resource. In some examples they are seen
as possessing qualities indicating their lower status (see also Santa Ana 2002:73; Said
1978:26), mainly through their willingness to perform hard work or tasks that are undesirable
to those individuals established in the country. The Sayers of these attitudes are mainly those
that do not oppose immigration, as in examples (132-133), (137) and (139). In examples (132)
and (139), the Sayer (same article, same Sayer), states explicitly that it has to be a "good
immigration bill". Example (138) establishes immigrants as possessing qualifications that
cannot be found from the residents and thus elevates their status. The speaker in example
(138) is a male restaurateur of Mexican origin. The group in focus is referred to as guest
workers in example (132), although it is possible to assume an implicit reference to illegal
workers. More specific reference to Mexicans and Hispanics is given in examples (133) and
(137) respectively. Furthermore, an element of interdiscursivity is present in example (132) in
the description of immigrant workers as prisoners and bereft of freedom, as the term shackled
is usually associated to circumstances related to law or war. Example (136) refers to aliens in
relation to legality as the central point of discussion. Example (139) refers only to illegal
immigrants but in example (140) the group of workers are specified as builders and
landscapers that speak very little English. The community affected by the appearance of
immigrants in the job market, i.e. black Americans – in examples (134-135) – mainly refer to
the cheap labour and hard work of the immigrants, the latter example includes a specific
reference to Mexicans. In example (137), the Sayer that refers to or that "re-presents"
(although a mental process verb is used recognize) the humanity of the Hispanics and their
quality as hard working is President Bush. The reference to humanity can be related to Santa
Ana's (2002) study which showed a tendency for dehumanisation of immigrants in the US.
Finally, while the other examples refer to the composition of the groups in question from
the general based on legality to the more regional specific, example (131) adds an implicature
of a set of features that exist to distinguish who is perceived as a real American. The different
labels given to the groups in the examples of this section can be related to Appiah's (2005)
study on available labels. This can also be linked to Saussure's (1972:113-114) view on
language as a system of relationships of similarities and differences, in this case, expressed in
terms of possession of certain characteristics. Example (131) also positions the immigrants
(more specifically Hispanics in the article) as active agents in the labour market (the absence
of the role of employers in this statement is interesting). Examples (134), (138) and (140)
show that immigrants have specific skills that are in demand. In contrast, example (139)
makes explicit the interests of the employers and illegal immigrants that serve as factors for
cooperation. This view of immigrants as cheap labour can be linked to Grin and Vaillancourt's
study of the US in the 1990s, in which Hispanics that lived in states that had a large number
of Spanish speakers such as Arizona, California, New York, earned 14% less than the white
population in the area. The income gap to the white population was noted as even greater
(24%) if the Hispanic individual did not know English (Grin and Vaillancourt 1999:16).
6.3 Summary of the discourse types of Loyalty and Efficiency
Bearing in mind the speech acts that were revealed from the text analysis, two discourse types
can be distinguished namely the discourse type of Loyalty and the discourse type of
The discourse type of Loyalty is marked by integrative motivations and with collective
concerns of national identity. Baker (2006:214-215) defines integrative language attitudes as a
desire to communicate and be similar to the members of the target community, and are mainly
concerned with identification. The discourse type of Loyalty contains 11 speech acts, namely
Time, Obligation, Willingness, Help and English as Unifier. Also included are the speech acts
connected to representations of the Other, namely Immigrants as Criminals, Immigrants as
Large Quantities of Water, Immigrants as Harmful, Immigration as a Sovereignty Issue,
Immigration Debate as Racial, and Immigration Debate as War. These representations
indicate the means by which the Other is constructed and can be related to Connor's (2007)
statement that loyalty in group formations cannot exist without identification of the Other.
The discourse type of Efficiency is mainly marked by instrumental reasons. Baker
(2006:214-215) defines instrumental language attitudes as mainly individualistic and may be
motivated by self-advancement or basic security. The discourse type of Efficiency contains
five speech acts, namely English-Optional Services, Multilingualism as Cost, Health and
Safety, and Opportunity. Moreover, immigrants are represented as a Labour Resource.
Although both discourse types refer to language as a tool to attain certain goals, they
nevertheless differ. In the discourse type of Loyalty, language is a means for constructing a
particular kind of national identity, whereas in the discourse type of Efficiency, the
instrumental view of language is maintained since its function in the American society is also
the goal. The discourse types indicate a tension between collective, integrative attitudes and
more individualistic, instrumental attitudes to language which can be related to the individual
and collective levels in Waever's (1993:25-26) societal security model.
6.4 Societal security and language policies
The issue of societal security and the language policies that are implemented on societies are
significant in defining inter-group relations caused by what Hesler and Layton-Henry
(1993:149), among others, call transnational migration. The discourse types of Loyalty and
Efficiency indicate the attitudes in the public debate in the United States concerning the role
of the English language in relation to societal security.
Societal security in the United States can be seen as having its starting point in Ager's
(2001:75) concept of the 'image' of a country – in this case a country that has English as its
main language of communication but which regards itself and is regarded, as described in
Giddens (2001:256), as a "nation of immigrants". However, the speech acts of societal
security expressed in the discourse types of Loyalty and Efficiency make apparent the
perception of threat that English speakers in the United States have regarding the presence of
large non-English speaking immigrant groups.
The speech acts that make up the discourse type of Loyalty are focused on the
maintenance of national identity characterised through a common language and can be related
to May (2005) in which communicating in a specific language activates identification with cospeakers. Insecurity by the dominant group in the data is established by the notion that the
essential character of the state based on a shared language is under threat – a perception which
is associated to Waever's (1993:23) description of societal security. The speech acts reflect the
means by which the construction of the linguistic 'we' is expected to be maintained.
Furthermore, the results indicate that loyalty, in its different expressions, is an important
factor in defining the situation of insecurity when groups are faced with large migrant
collectives. Wolfe (1998:133) claims that patriotism is viewed as an American moral value,
which may link manifestations of loyalty as qualifying characteristics for being considered
"an American". Moreover, members' loyalties are triggered by arguments that the 'we' identity
is threatened (see Buzan, Waever and de Wilde 1998:123) as shown in the data. The results
further show that the emotion of loyalty is itself used in reproducing the collective 'we'
through utilisation of hegemonic expressions which serve to reconstruct identity. There are
indications of the view of loyalty as constructed in societal security issues taking on what
Buzan, Waever and de Wilde (1998:139) call loyalty on the basis of Tönnies' Gesellschaft or
association. In other words, by acquiring the English language and by performing certain acts
in English as described in the data, the immigrant may be included into the in-group, thus
possibly reinforcing an assimilative ideology for language policy making. This can be further
related to Cobarrubias' (1983:63-64) statement in which assimilation is one of four possible
ideologies for language planning. These results are also linked to Ricento's (2000b:4)
statement that the ideology of monolingualism in the US is related to notions of linguistic
assimilation. The integrative/assimilative language attitudes in the data indicate a belief in
incompatibility, in Buzan's (1993:43-44) terms, namely that there is a view of contesting
identities in which the individual cannot hold two identities. In the findings, the American
identity based on the English language is mainly given as mutually incompatible with any
other linguistic identity brought by the immigrant. This collective, state-level image can be
contrasted with the individualistic, instrumental approach (in this study, companies are
included in this category) which supports Salzmann's (1993:194) claim that an individual can
belong to several speech communities – therefore implying an absence of incompatibility
between identities expressed through different languages.
Furthermore, the representations of the immigrant in the findings are negative therefore
strengthening the boundaries between 'us' and 'them'. The speech acts representing the Other
focus on threats related to border security and illegal presence. The speech acts deal with the
need for more severe actions. The main referent group causing the threat are the illegal
individuals with specific reference to Latin Americans. The dehumanising references to
immigrants in the present data (cf. Santa Ana 2002), and the enhancement of immigrants'
inferiority may serve as tools for creating a stronger societal security through solidarity. These
factors may also provide a base for the justification of denial of minority or groupdifferentiated rights as defined by Kymlicka (1995:108-123) since these groups, by extension
of their negative representation, are viewed as having what Van Evera (1994) calls malign
intentions or even considered as non-humans (Santa Ana 2002; Said 1978) and as such, not
entitled to rights. According to Romaine (1995:289-290), a change of language status e.g.
through recognition, can affect attitudes towards the speakers of the language. It is possible to
reverse Romaine's view based on the results of this study, and state that a negative perception
of a particular group affects attitudes towards the languages spoken by the group as regards
tolerance towards group members when they publicly express their cultural and linguistic
difference, and the possible use of the particular language as a resource for the country.
Metaphors regarding immigrants and the immigration debate imply a negative force, often
representing the immigrant as dehumanised or inferior and as something that needs to be
contained since he/she is capable of destruction. Said's (1978:35-41) and Santa Ana's
(2002:68-77) studies have also established the dehumanisation of immigrants in the US. In
Mehan's study, the immigrant is regarded as an enemy and was used as a justification to
ignore human rights in California's approval of Proposition 187 for the exclusion of
undocumented children from schools and medical assistance (Mehan 1997:249; see also
Petterson 2003:6). This study also shows that the boundaries between the groups are
constructed through the different signifiers if one bases on Saussure's (1972) network of
relationships to create difference of meaning. The negative labelling of immigrants in the data
through interdiscursive representations, for instance related to insects or water, may enhance
justification for discriminatory measures. The immigrants are mainly represented as large
collectives with little differentiation within the group identified as "immigrants". Also, as
Santa Ana (2002) found in his study, the examples here show a dominating absence of
reference to individuals.
Furthermore, the boundaries between 'us' and 'them' constructed in the contributions of
immigrants that know English and are members of the American society, confirms to some
extent Schmid's (2001:172) claim regarding the exclusive use of English in the society as a
demonstration of loyalty to America. According to this investigation, knowledge of English is
a factor that intensifies the friction between those that are established English-speaking
citizens and the citizens or immigrants that do not know English. The data shows a
dichotomising situation in which the majority/dominant group sees English as the only means
for establishing a secure identity. The failure to demonstrate a contractual loyalty, as defined
by Connor (2007), through language acquisition creates uncertainty among dominant English
language speakers as regards the intentions of newcomers, which in turn makes difficult the
recourse to trust for bridging group boundaries.
The speech acts of loyalty demonstrate aspects of Waever's view of identity as dynamic
(Waever 1993:22) and as constituted by hierarchical relationships which change. This study
has demonstrated that although many immigrants shift towards the attainment of English as
their main language, cultural expressions of separateness, either in the formation of specific
communities or in an increase of minority language presence in the public space and semipublic space may lead to intolerance. This is in line with Buzan's (1993:43, 45) claim that the
size of the immigrant population and their impact in the social and political spheres may cause
a change in tolerance levels of the dominant group regarding multiculturalism (see also
Fishman 1972 regarding tolerance in a given society and language shift). Thus, although the
findings indicate specific attitudes in favour of language shift and actual language shift taking
place by the third generation, individual goals may affect the pattern of shift in the future if
opportunity in the public space and semi-public space becomes possible in a language other
than English.
One area that may influence language shift tendencies is business, which can be related to
the efficient working of the capitalist market as taken up by Buzan (1993:51-55) under the
concept of 'societal security'. The efficient working of multilingualism –– in areas such as the
provision of services by companies based on the notion of the free-market in which
immigrants are seen as either a resource for cheap labour or as consumers, entails that
separate communities may arise. Within these enclaves, it is possible to use a language other
than English, in this case Spanish, as part of everyday communication in the public space,
semi-public space and the private space. Thus, the Spanish community may be seen as
moving towards what Buzan (1993) and Waever (1993) define as societies, namely largescale self-supporting distinct groups. This is also in line with Ager's (2001:110-111) study of
the motive of insecurity in which decisions of individuals are instrumentally based (see also
Baker 2006) – which includes businesses in the findings of this study as these are focused on
obtaining profits at the individual/single organisation level. These decisions create a change in
circumstances so that some of the activities in some communities in the US require
knowledge of Spanish rather than English or alternatively both languages. Thus, the active
role that businesses take in using the free market for advancing their own interests may not
always be compatible with the idea of forming a national identity based on a common
language, and consequently may, as Buzan (1993:52-53) claims, result in governments taking
political measures to reduce the effects of the market in order to strengthen the national
identity of its citizens. This consequence is evident in the attempts by some government
representatives to make English the official language in the United States.
Møller (2005:119-120) states that the achievement of security at one level may diminish
security at another level. In the case of the US, the ideology of benign neglect on language
issues, applied in certain periods, has mainly favoured English and its speakers, but can now
be said to be questioned since Spanish speakers, as reflected in the data, are perceived as
maintaining their language and not undergoing language shift. In a related approach,
Lagerspetz (1998), who takes the autonomy of the individual as the basis for his argument,
claims that the state must be active in choosing an official language and not leave it to the
market forces since it is related to citizen participation in a democracy. As shown in this
study, there is an indication of interdiscursivity in this matter, since democracy and other
political issues related to national identity are transferred to form part of the responsibility of
companies active within the liberal market. The illegal immigrant worker is also
interdiscursively referred to as a prisoner of employers.
A further aspect is the tendency by members of the dominant group to view themselves at
a disadvantage and in a position of being coerced by the minority groups to learn the language
of these smaller groups – an emotion that is usually attached to minority communities in
studies of language group contact. Grin (2006:84) writes that "a person's language learning (or
non-learning) behaviour affects the value of another person's language skills". In the data this
is shown by concerns of the Spanish language sharing the public space and the semi-public
space that has been dominated by English. The speech acts in the discourse type of Efficiency,
particularly those of Multilingualism as Cost, indicate an inclination away from mixed policy
provisions (wherein only certain types of information are supplied in the minority languages).
This aspect in the data reflects the opposing views held by Kloss (1971; as cited in Wiley
2000) of tolerance in US language policies and Wiley's (2000) view of US tendencies to
Individual interests for learning a language based on ambitions for social mobility or
obtainment of citizenship may be seen as contributing to social cohesion since they entail the
possible consequent maintenance of the role of English in the American society, and as such,
can be said to affect societal security. This is in line with the idea of empowerment in the
concept of 'human security' (CHS 2002-2003) as regards the possibility of participation and
access to opportunity by the individual. Nevertheless, the data also shows that it is relevant to
consider the actions taken by some members of the majority to push forward political
measures that, if passed by the government, can negatively affect the targeted minority group
as regards the categories of health, political and community security, as taken up in the
UNHDR (1994:24-33). The situation as reflected in the data in this study is problematic since
some of the immigrants are illegally in the country. The question of human security, however,
still remains for both legal and illegal non-English speaking immigrants for instance in the
speech act of Health and Safety. This factor may be significant if it is related to Paris'
(2001:90) claim that the broadness of the human security concept allows nations to decide the
threshold for minimum human security.
As indicated in the findings, granting minority rights e.g. in the provision of multilingual
services, may lead to demands for a stronger expression of national identity by members of
the dominant group. From this perspective, the demands to remove rights directly affecting
the immigrant individual e.g. in their interaction with government officials, are argued as a
means of enhancing the role of the English language in the society and strengthening the
national identity as shown in the speech act of English as Unifier as well as reducing costs as
in the case of the speech act of Multilingualism as Cost. This entails that the notion of human
security is related to Waever, Buzan, Kelstrup and Lemaitre's (1993) view that social and
economic issues can affect the security of a society. Seen from the perspective of those in
favour of official English, increasing human security for immigrants is a contributing factor in
(de)stabilising societal security (Tadjbakhsh 2005:2, 6; Tadjbakhsh 2009; Møller 2005:82,
102). However, this does not mean that this study claims that the individual, via human
security, should be the main referent for security since the data also demonstrates that the
collective identity is significant for societal security and is therefore also in agreement with
Buzan, Waever and de Wilde's (1998:35) claim of the state-level as a possible referent of
security (large societal groups are also possible referents of security in this model) –
established by perceptions of 'us' in relation to 'them', i.e. a division based on groups and
collectivities rather than individuals. The identification of group belonging in this study is
mainly expressed through the use of terms like Latinos, Hispanics, and (illegal) immigrants,
which are contrasted to the notion of what an "American" is.
The findings show that there is tension between individual pursuits and collective motives
formed by national identity. The expressions connected to human security, such as concerning
the speech act of Health and Safety and the speech act of Opportunity, are linked to the wellbeing and advancement of the individual in his/her everyday life. This supports Tadjbakhsh's
(2009) view that security should be redefined to take into consideration the individual's
subjective experience of security in their everyday life both from the point of view of the
majority and the minority group member. In contrast, those speech acts based on the
maintenance of English for national identification are associated to a more abstract notion,
namely what Buzan (1991:70) calls the idea of state. In the data, this view is expressed by
members of the dominant group that identify with the use of the English language in the
American society. Consequently, the study shows that demands by the dominant group for
expressions of loyalty on behalf of immigrant populations to guarantee societal security may
affect the security of newcomers, this is shown particularly in the speech act of Health and
Safety. Of significance in this context are Articles 1-3 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of
Human Rights (UDHR) in which "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and
rights" (Article 1); and "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this
Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion,
political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status" (Article 2),
as well as Article 3 of the same declaration stating that "Everyone has the right to life, liberty
and security of person". It is therefore suggested from the data that the discourses of societal
security need to be considered in relation to human rights (see Skutnabb-Kangas, Phillipson
and Rannut 1995:2 for defence of implementation of linguistic human rights as basic rights).
Additionally, actions to strengthen sovereignty through securing impermeable borders are
significant for security studies focusing on language since ineffective measures in this area
may contribute to perceptions of threat due to growing numbers of immigrants that speak a
different language, particularly Hispanics as shown in the data, which is also in line with
Buzan's (1991:106; Buzan 1993:43, 45) studies. Hispanics may be perceived as particularly
threatening since they speak a language that is dominant in most of the countries on the US
southern border. The study indicates that human security, as a motivation of migration,
constitutes a significant part in societal security in a country that is affected today by
voluntary or involuntary migration.
Finally, the different speech acts and discourse types from this study may be seen as a
guide for language policy makers and aims to complement Ager's (2001) study describing
individuals' and collectivities' motives, attitudes and goals towards language(s) by focusing on
the speech acts that can be seen as constituting Ager's motive of insecurity. The results from
this study indicate that at the level of insecurity two discourse types, namely that of Loyalty
and Efficiency, have significant similarities to – and features of – ideologies singled out by
Cobarrubias (1983) namely assimilation and pluralism and are also in line with Ager's
motives of integration as a social phenomenon or instrumentality as primarily an economic
issue (Ager 2001:124) but to which issues of health and safety can be added.
The different speech acts resulting from this study indicate attitudes that can be related to
Kaplan and Baldauf's (1997:216) results in which languages are seen as competing or coexisting based on their use, function and status. In general terms, it is possible to state that the
discourse type of Loyalty is mainly marked by competition due to integrative motives
affecting language status and ideas of a zero-sum situation between languages. Thus, attitudes
related to status are mainly identifiable within the discourse type of Loyalty due to a
hegemonic monolingual view of the US, particularly in public language usage. Furthermore,
the debate surrounding the use of a language other than English to sing the national anthem
indicates the hegemonic position of English for expressions of loyalty. In this case, language
policy makers also need to take into account societal security and its relation to dual identity
or hyphenated identities held by immigrants.
The discourse type of Efficiency is marked by attitudes based on use and function e.g.
social mobility, cost, or as action taken by companies to use Spanish as an effective tool for
obtaining Spanish speaking customers. The motives of immigrant individuals for learning
English are mainly located in the speech act of Opportunity and can be related to Ager's study
in which status influences choices of language shift based on professional advancement (Ager
2001:146-147). The maintenance of the mother tongue especially by those groups constituting
first generation immigrants may be based on the possibility of using their first language in the
job market within their speech community, especially Spanish speaking communities, due to
their numbers, as shown in the findings. In this respect, Crystal points out the views held by
pro-official English supporters who state that it is difficult to decide when official status
should be attributed based on numbers and that for this reason only English should have
official status in the US (Crystal 1997:122-130). Further, those favouring official English in
the data are focused on goals of defending identity which according to Ager (2001:136-138)
are reflections of insecurity.
Arguments of costs by the dominant group in the findings can be linked to Grin and
Vaillancourt's (1999:10) point of departure for language policies in which states, like firms,
are faced with making choices of distributing limited resources. According to Ager, the goals
of powerful communities are of social cohesion and in some cases the efficient running of the
state by ignoring social diversity (Ager 2001:177-178). Similar attitudes are evident in the
speech act of Multilingualism as Cost. The discourse type of Loyalty shows that some proofficial English supporters do not recognise societal multilingualism as an option. The
interests of the minority – as seen from the majority – are put forward as mainly concerned
with issues of rights related to information and safety or integration in the direction of the
powerful, host community.
The discourse types thus indicate that several of Ager's motives come into play at the level
of insecurity and that these are guided by arguments of loyalty or efficiency in the face of a
threatening picture. In addition, the findings show that the motive of insecurity needs to
include the actions of companies operating in the liberal market as their interests may conflict
with the goals of cultural communities that have, what Smolicz (1995:236-237) defines as
language as a core value, and may also lead to what Ricento (2000a; 2000b) calls social and
economic gate keeping actions through language policy, which may, in turn, give rise to
lessened human security.
These results are important for language policy makers, if one takes account of Spolsky's
(2004:5, 9) model in which language policy makers have to take into consideration language
use and the linguistic choices made by the individual, as well as the beliefs, ideologies and
practices that exist in a community for a policy to be successful. The impact of instrumental
aspects from the perspective of individuals (including companies) on societal security as
shown in the discourse type of Efficiency indicates its importance in issues of social cohesion
and group identity by its contribution in establishing new communities. These aspects are
particularly significant since they affect the everyday life of individuals in the public space
and the semi-public space and are one of the most visible effects related to group formations,
and as such, have a prominent role in forming perceptions. Also, the influence of instrumental
use of language in creating communities and in individuals changing affiliation to the
dominant community as demonstrated in the data, reinforces the view held by Waever (1995)
and Buzan, Waever and de Wilde (1998; Buzan 1991) of identity as a social construct in
security studies.
The discourse types also reflect issues of rights and bring forward the question whether
minority immigrant groups in the US should have the same rights as indigenous groups if they
reach a defined minimum number of speakers. In this context, it is worth bearing in mind that
some of the individuals are in the country illegally, which entails that estimates of numbers of
language speakers will inevitably be inaccurate and under the actual level. According to
Patten and Kymlicka (2003:30), group-differentiated rights only come into effect when a
group has a certain number of speakers. The 1994 United Nations Human Rights Committee
includes immigrants and refugees in their definition of the rights of minority groups to enjoy,
profess and use their minority language (UNHRC as cited in Spolsky 2004:120-121). The
data in this study does not indicate that Spanish speakers – as the group with the most
reference as regards the issue of official English in the United States – are demanding
polyethnic rights, as defined by Kymlicka (1995:30-31), by virtue of their ethnolinguistic
identity and the requirement of visible expression of their culture without discrimination.
However, the speech acts of the discourse type of Loyalty nevertheless indicate a tendency to
refer to Spanish and the knowledge or lack of knowledge of English as boundary-markers
distinguishing 'us' from 'them'. A further tendency is the suggestion for assimilation
accomplished by a proposal for removal or rejection of norm-and-accommodation rights as
revealed in the speech acts of the discourse type of Efficiency e.g. as argued through costs and
health and safety risks. These suggested measures may also be seen as being in opposition to
the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, namely Article 3 "Everyone
has the right to life liberty and security of person" and Article 25:
(25/1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and
necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness,
disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his
(25/2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children,
whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection (UDHR 1948).
In sum, the discourse types of Loyalty and Efficiency indicate the beliefs regarding the
role of English and other languages in the United States and their relation to societal security.
The discourse types are mainly securitising moves since they are speech acts in which
immigrants, and the effect their presence has on the role of English in the US, are constructed
as existential threats. The discourse type of Loyalty makes evident those perceptions related
to the means of attaining and defending the national identity of the United States. The
discourse type of Efficiency carries the view of language as a tool for the state to
communicate with individuals within its borders, as a means of achieving better economic
conditions for individuals and businesses, as well as the possibility of resources of foreign
language competence for state and government agencies operating in international arenas.
Both discourse types mark ongoing social changes reflected in issues of language use.
Language policy makers need to be able to consider the attitudes as securitising moves
expressed in the discourse types and take account of their relation to societal security for
successful policy implementation in the face of transnational migration.
7 Concluding remarks
The main purpose of this investigation has been to study how societal security is present in
the attitudes expressed in the newspaper debate regarding official English in the United
States. The perception of threat constitutes the focal point and approach to the data. The
investigation of the speech acts of societal security in relation to language and immigration
(including the representation of immigrants), and the establishment of discourse types related
to societal security are the overarching goals of this study. The results from the study are
aimed at contributing with tools by which to approach language issues in societal security
The aim has not been to generalise the observations to all cases of contact between
different language communities, but rather to indicate a point of departure for
interdisciplinary studies of the same kind, mainly of attitudes, on other countries. In other
words, future studies (qualitative and quantitative) can use the discourse types (securitising
moves constructing existential threats through speech acts) from this investigation as a point
from which to approach the issue of societal security as regards language status in other
countries. The choice of the United States as the case study is due to its
multicultural/multilingual composition and the dominant role of the English language in the
country as well as the fact that the immigration debate is taking place in this environment. A
further reason for choosing the United States is the position of English as a global language
and, as such, considered by many as constituting a threat to smaller languages rather than
itself being threatened.
The study has shown that two discourse types dominate the debate, namely the discourse
type of Loyalty and the discourse type of Efficiency. Each of these discourse types include
speech acts related to the role of English in the American society, the available
representations of the immigrant Other, and the immigration phenomenon. The discourse
types constitute securitising moves. Both discourse types use language as a tool for attaining
different goals. In the discourse type of Loyalty, language is a means related to securing
national identity carrying integrative motives, whereas in the discourse type of Efficiency,
language is a means for obtaining a functional end, that is, the efficient use of language as a
communicating instrument. These discourse types can serve as tools for language policy
makers to take account of the beliefs (cf. Spolsky 2004) that are prevalent in the US as these
are significant for achieving a successful language policy implementation.
A further result is that the speech acts also relate to intervention in the functioning of the
liberal marketplace. Businesses are seen to contribute to preventing the interest of learning
English by supplying services in other languages, particularly Spanish. Also, the labour
market is further identified as employing Latinos, which if based on "push" and "pull" factors
(Ager 2001), contributes to a flow of immigration, including illegal immigration. Finally, the
Spanish speakers are seen as forming parallel speech communities in which English is not a
requirement for participation due to the establishment of Spanish as a new cultural capital,
and as such, constituting a legitimate competence.
The influence of the economic sector on language acquisition processes entails that policy
makers need to not only take account of the speech acts in the discourse type of Loyalty but
also those of Efficiency. These two discourse types may work in opposition to each other as
regards social cohesion at a state level since the idea of choice, according to Grin and
Vaillancourt (1999:10), relies on utility maximisation by individuals or groups. Further
studies may serve to establish if the indication from this study is present in other societal
security investigations as regards the role of language in ethnolinguistic contact situations.
A further aspect is the notion that multilingualism is portrayed as incompatible to the
maintenance of national identity with language as a core value. The dominating implication
from the newspaper articles included in this study is that there is a zero-sum situation, rather
than the view that Spanish as a large international language in combination with English may
contribute to a stronger United States (although this aspect is taken up in a few of the
examples). In relation to this, a comparison can be made to countries adopting English as an
official language or its increasing usage in different domains in those countries, and the
attitudes concerning Spanish in the US. In other words, while knowledge of English is viewed
as a comparative advantage in the outer circle and expanding circle countries (Kachru
1992:356-358) for global participation, in the US, knowledge of Spanish is not perceived by
some as offering advantages to larger markets in South America. Instead, the Spanish
language is interpreted as a sign of threat and lack of loyalty of immigrants to the United
States by pro-official English supporters. The case of the southern states is particularly
interesting since they are geographically connected to Mexico and therefore the region may be
seen as containing potential economic markets. This is in line with Cummins (1995) claim
that the focus on education towards monolingualism and language shift in the US
compromises the country's national security and international trade possibilities.
Based on the results obtained, it is argued here that in light of the current transmigration
numbers and the compression of time for global communication, language policy makers need
to depart from the point of sustainability of multilingual societies rather than assuming
traditional trends of linguistic assimilation. Thus, due to a successful policy of national
identity during the last 200 hundred years based on monolingualism as normality and
multilingualism as an exception for countries due to unavoidability, public justifications for
granting language rights must focus on instrumentality as both discourse types show that
language is seen as a means to attain goals. This is in line with Lagerspetz's (1998) argument
that instrumental value of language for the individual is sufficient to establish grounds for
language rights. Thus, language policy makers should try to combine societal security, namely
collective identity, with human security interests since the data shows that instrumental
objectives can create parallel communities. The American case further demonstrates that it is
not possible to eliminate the use of new languages in the public space and the semi-public
space when linked to mass migration. A further aspect is that if the numbers of a specific
language group are significant, and in circumstances where both continual replenishment
takes place either through temporary or permanent migration, seasonal visits or through
telecommunications, a community may develop in which the immigrant language is dominant
for social interactions even though the members of this community may still want to belong to
the United States. An important factor from this perspective is therefore that language policy
making should take into account the effects of a free market ideology.
Also, the American case specifically shows that identity is constructible so that most
immigrants through time and participation take on an American identity or consider the US as
their permanent residence. It is necessary to point out that this American identity may find
new ways of manifestation e.g. as in the case of singing the national anthem in Spanish or
native language maintenance in spite of a long term intention to remain in the country.
Nevertheless, language shift towards English may continue to occur and can be linked to
Schmid's (2001:10) statement that the allowance of linguistic variability is the immediate
policy of a culturally pluralistic society that has assimilation as a goal in the long term.
Therefore, it is suggested that in the American context sentiments of symbolic belonging, i.e.
of identity as intrinsic, are in fact a consequence of instrumental use of language which
through long-term participation and interaction allows the individual inclusion into specific
Furthermore, it is argued that societal security is an emotion that needs to be confirmed by
demonstrations of loyalty. Arguments for a particular cause e.g. in this case, the role of
English in the US, become a concern of the collective 'we' through repetition – constructed in
the present debate or with a basis on historical practices – to ultimately create, as Fairclough
(2001) states, an ideological condition. The diversity of the backgrounds of the individuals
repeating the ideology strengthens both the cause and the trustworthiness of those that put
forward opinions through a notion of a heterogeneous collectivity. Alternative views become
undermined or unacceptable by their invisibility or almost non-existence in the discussion e.g.
such as the general absence of the attitudes of those that participated in singing the American
national anthem in Spanish in the data, an action that can indicate an expression of alternative
American patriotism. Visibility and repetition are important for acceptance of an argument as
a security issue in the public debate and provide the basis of securitisation through ideological
securitising moves. Therefore, although societal security is not an aggregative of the security
of individuals, it is at the micro level of individuals' repetition and expressed acceptance that
manifestations of belonging to a collective identity, as forwarded in the attitudes in the data,
become an ideology which when challenged becomes securitised. It is at this point that
language as an instrument for social participation, and as an important tool for the security of
the individual and relations of power, becomes significant and, through collective repetitive
practice and belief, a core value.
Finally bearing in mind the above statements, it is suggested that language policy makers
need to relate to four factors, namely societal security as identified through collective identity,
individual/human security; human rights and their relation to language rights or in SkutnabbKangas, Phillipson and Rannut's (1995:1-2) term, LHR, for inclusion in basic human rights;
and changing linguistic demography. This will be further discussed below from the findings
of this study namely on issues of language shift, assimilation and singing the American
national anthem in a language other than English. Although some aspects can be applied to
indigenous peoples' rights, this will not be discussed here since the focus of this study is on
the discussion regarding the status of English due to the presence of immigrant languages in
the US.
First, a few considerations will be put forward in order to contextualise the arguments in a
theoretical basis. Based on previous studies (e.g. Fishman 1966, 1991; Pavlenko and
Blackledge 2003), it is possible to state a link between language and the identity of an
individual. Further, individuals are socialised into the rules and conventions that are practiced
in the community to which each individual is born (cf. Réaume 1994). These rules are
transmitted through language and allow the individual membership in the group, therefore, in
Bolinger's (1975) words, also offering them security. In consequence, it is possible to link
access to a first language to Articles 2 and 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
(1948). The aspect of universality in this line of thinking entails that all humans are entitled to
a language, all have equal right to a language and these rights, once obtained are inalienable
in accordance to the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The speech act
of Time brings forward an issue for language policy makers, namely the idea of language
shift. Furthermore, the presence of notions of assimilation for instance in the speech acts of
Obligation, Willingness, English as Unifier, and Opportunity are problematic from a rights
perspective. If a right is universal and based on the above arguments of the link between
language, society, security and identity, every individual has a right to their first language.
Thus some of the attitudes expressed in the data demand, imply or assume something that is
not morally acceptable from a rights perspective, namely that individuals are expected or
required to assimilate or shift languages.
In connection to the United States and the official English debate in this study, it is
possible to deduce that the citizens in the country have a universal right to use English within
its territory. In the findings of the data this translates particularly into the speech acts of
Obligation and Help (awarded towards immigrants to learn English), as well as the fear
forwarded in the speech act of English-Optional Services. These speech acts bring into
consideration that immigrants entering a sovereign territory where inhabitants speak a
different language have a duty to learn the language of the country, since the citizens of that
country have a right to continue to speak their language, in this case, English. It is possible to
nevertheless decide to waive knowledge of English to certain groups but this would then be a
concession of a privilege within the US territory. To some extent this may even be applied to
the privilege of using public financing for education in immigrant minority languages. It is
necessary to point out that this does not deal with whether immigrants have the right to learn
their mother tongue or to have basic education in it, rather the argument here is mainly
focused on the inalienable right the individual has to his/her identity given through their
mother tongue.
A language policy maker further needs to deal with the problem of citizenship and the
issue of the language in which the national anthem should be sung in. Once the individual has
acquired American citizenship, do they not then own the right to express their patriotism to
their new country in their bilingual capacity? The findings in the data indicate that some
attitudes expressed that the anthem is only to be sung in English. However, these new citizens
also have inalienable rights to their first language if one accepts the argument put forward
regarding identity, security and society and thus have the right to sing the anthem in Spanish,
given that they own a right to express patriotism based on their new citizenship. An argument
against this standpoint is that the anthem is a collective "property" and represents an English
speaking state. This argument would however presuppose that once the anthem is sung in
Spanish it cannot be sung in English, therefore also assuming a zero-sum thinking. Another
aspect is that it assumes society and collective identity as fixed. One of the main aspects of
societal security, as defined by Waever (1993), is that it is perceived as fixed but due to its
constructed nature it is also changing and changeable.
Therefore, in light of the considerations above, it is suggested that language policy makers
in the US take into consideration the relationship between societal security, individual/human
security, human rights and changing linguistic demography.
A possible weakness in the present study is that the analysis of data was carried out across
several articles without considering the articles as single whole units. Thus comments related
to how the articles are built up internally have not been accounted for in this study. Instead,
the focus has been on trying to distinguish patterns of speaking which may be evident in texts
written by different authors and incorporated in different newspapers. A point that could have
increased the validity of the results is to have increased the time span of the period from
which the articles were selected. In other words, several short periods would have contributed
to establishing a historical perspective to the speech acts and discourse types. However, these
factors can be taken into consideration in future studies. Further studies can also try to
combine different sources of data e.g., interviews and surveys to see if the same speech acts
appear both in the United States and other countries. Also, an analysis of Spanish language or
other minority language newspapers in the US may indicate further factors regarding societal
security in the United States due to the different language target audience.
An interesting aspect for further investigation would be to compare the speech acts and
discourse types of societal security in countries in which English has different functions and
status such as India and Sweden since national identity construction in relation to language
may be different in these countries. In addition, due to the results indicating the influence of
economy on societal security in relation to language acquisition by immigrants of the
language of the host country, it would be interesting to analyse the speech acts directly related
to the formation of separate immigrant communities e.g. in Germany and France, in which
language and economy are taken as contributing and inter-related factors. Connected to this, it
is also of significance to investigate the role of the discourse types of Loyalty and Efficiency
in countries that are experiencing or have experienced ethnic conflicts. These studies would
give further insight into understanding the mechanisms of language as an issue in societal
security investigations and serve as a guide for language policy makers.
Finally, taking into account Grin's (2006:88) statement that the cost of using several
languages in a given country is largely unknown, a study in the area of costs of societal
multilingualism would contribute to determining the possible value of actions regarding
maintenance, reduction or elimination of language diversity in a state. Therefore, a future
study of a situation in which multilingualism is a win-win situation rather than a zero-sum
situation – as shown in this thesis – both as an investigation of the actual state of affairs in a
country or as perceived and given through attitudes, would be interesting for establishing the
viability of successful societal multilingualism. This suggestion is based on the view of
languages as resources for inter-cultural communication which can benefit not only relations
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