Volume 46, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0272-2690
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9889
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This article posits a new framework in relation to language rights in post-conflict settings, giving a key position to dialogue, which we see as a multidimensional process central in most reconciliation processes. Yet this notion is seldom utilised with regard to language rights, and subsequently in language policies. Instead, powerful stakeholders such as governments or transnational organisations often consider the introduction of language rights as ‘enough’ to resolve language disputes. We discuss the impact of this in a variety of settings, arguing that a static interpretation of language rights, such as in the text of a peace agreement or a constitution, is not sufficient. The application of language rights without follow-on dialogue can antagonise rather than reconcile the very disputes they claim to settle. We argue that a more fluid consideration is required that captures the complex and changing dynamics of linguistic identities in the volatile context of a peace process. A neglected aspect in the debate on language rights in post-conflict settings is the way dialogue can, over time, alter the relationship language communities have with their own language and potentially with the language of their ‘other’. We draw on international examples that indicate dialogue should be a central consideration in post-conflict settings at all levels, from transnational organisations to governments’ national policies, and finally to grassroots initiatives within and across communities.


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