Language ideologies and language attitudes

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In the early 1990s, linguistic anthropological work seeking to integrate speakers’ perceptions and understandings of their linguistic and social contexts into analyses of language use coalesced around the theoretical paradigm of language ideology. This perspective includes both micro-interactional elements of language use as well as large-scale sociohistorical processes that shape and are shaped by language. This article first describes language ideology as a field, and describes some of its key works. Next it shifts to discuss language ideology through an analysis of the language situation in Bergamo, Italy, where ongoing language shift, socioeconomic transformation, and the politicization of language have resulted in a complex linguistic situation and a range of attitudes towards language. Based on ongoing cultural and linguistic ethnographic research in Bergamo since 1999, this paper illustrates how analyses of speaker attitudes from a language ideology perspective can produce a rich, multiplex understanding of how speakers themselves use and understand language.


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