Language and Discourse Seminar Series
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Who this event is for
JHB 202, John Henry Brookes Building , Headington Campus, Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane site
Social media, language ideologies and Canadian politics with speaker Rachelle Vessey, Birkbeck, University of London
ideologies and Canadian politics: Evidence and examples from the media
In the uncertainty of current times, when the status
of the nation and its place in globalisation are called into question, the role
of languages is changing. While for nationalists languages tend to serve as hallmarks
of “authentic” identity, for the cosmopolitan elite of the globalised world
languages have become assets for social – and geographic – mobility (Heller et
al., 2016; Ignatieff, cited in Taub 2016). The tension between these positions is
particularly salient in the Canadian context, where languages have long had an
overt political role. As a country with two official languages (English and
French), Canada has struggled with unity and has relied on tools such as media
to support the national project (Chartrand,
1986). While media have been
effective in streamlining debates about some issues, when it comes to debates
about national languages, the medium
really does become the message
(Macluhan, 1964). In Canada, traditional
media such as newspapers tend to exist in parallel in English and French with
little interaction between them, polarising debates on language according to the language of use.
The emergence of new media has presented new opportunities to bridge the linguistic
gaps, but these have also introduced an influx of debates about language from
other international perspectives. This paper explores debates
about Canadian official languages in traditional and new media, highlighting
some of the linguistic manifestations of political divisions set to define the
21st century (Ignatieff, in Taub, 2016).
Chartrand, M. (1986) Technological nationalism. Canadian Journal of Political and Social
Theory, X, 1-2, 196-220.
Heller, M., Bell, L. A., Daveluy,
M., McLaughlin, M., Noel, H. (2016). Sustaining
the nation. The making and moving of language and nation. Oxford UP.
Macluhan, M. (1964). Understanding
media: The extensions of man. MIT Press.
Taub, A. (2016). A Central Conflict of 21st-Century Politics:
Who Belongs? New York Times, 8/7/2016.