Moving beyond Asocial Minority-Language Policy

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This paper exams how asocial symbolic minority-language policy contributes to the social processes of language shift from the perspective of highly threatened languages, such as Scottish Gaelic. In introducing the concept of language shift through Asocial Minority-Language Policy, we argue that symbolic minority-language policy is detrimental to threatened language minorities in that it is ideologically implicated in language shift when it neglects the societal circumstances of minority-language decline. The prioritisation of the symbolic aspect of language policy also hinders a value-for-money approach to official provision for the minority group. This paper calls for a materialist/functionalist approach to minority-language societal regeneration to counter the social irrelevance of symbolic policy. We suggest policy options for moving beyond the symbolic focus on the minority-language condition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-211
Number of pages33
JournalScottish Affairs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2021


  • Gaelic
  • sociolinguistics
  • language shift
  • language policy
  • language minoritisation
  • ideology
  • Language and culture
  • miority language


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