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Review of  Do Not Leave Your Language Alone


Reviewer: Haitao Liu
Book Title: Do Not Leave Your Language Alone
Book Author: Joshua A Fishman
Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Sociolinguistics
Book Announcement: 18.2940

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Review:
AUTHOR: Joshua A Fishman
TITLE: Do Not Leave Your Language Alone
SUBTITLE: The Hidden Status Agendas Within Corpus Planning in Language Policy
PUBLISHER: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
YEAR: 2006

LIU Haitao, Institute of Apllied Linguistics, Communication University
of China.

SUMMARY
The title of this book recalls Hall (1950), which had almost the same title, but
without the words ''do not.'' More interestingly, the title also directly comes
into the core of language planning, which can be defined as a science of
deliberately changing the status, structure and development of a language,
although the definition of language planning has more or less changed since its
birth in societal development (Liu 2006).

The activities of language planning often are differentiated into two classes:
corpus and status planning. Corpus planning is concerned specifically with
attempts to modify language itself, and status planning with attempts to modify
the environment in which a language is used. For detailed overviews of language
planning, see Kaplan & Baldauf (1997).

In practice, it is very difficult to clearly distinguish the two activities
(corpus and status planning) in an activity of language planning. In the preface
of this book, the author expresses two positions: the two types of language
planning are not as fundamentally separate as previously assumed; corpus
planning per se is also impacted strongly by other factors, such as societal
biases, ideologies and attitudes, which often are the crucial points in status
planning. In this way, readers can understand the book's subtitle.

Aiming at readers without prior knowledge of the field, this book begins with a
beauty contest story in the bible's Book of Esther showing that language
planning/policy has a longer history than commonly supposed. Chapter one is a
brief introduction to language planning with the emphases on corpus planning and
its connation to societal components. The author clearly examines when and why
language planning comes into a language community's agenda: ''societal changes is
prominent, problem-solving is vital, and a premium is paid for communication
ease and consensual clarity of meaning''(p.9). It is also noteworthy that modern
language (corpus) planning often aims at the written language.

''Corpus Planning and Status Planning: Separates, Opposites, or Siamese Twins?''
is the title of Chapter 2. Focusing on the relation between corpus and status
planning, the author first asks: if they are really separate from each other,
''with which one of these two does the total process begin?''(p. 11). Many
examples tell us, that this is a very difficult question, because many factors
impact such processes. The book provides a very transparent (or fuzzy) answer
''Where it starts, when it starts, and in which way it develops is determined by
the context - political, economic, cultural - in which it develops''(p. 17). That
is why, in language planning, the sequence of corpus and status planning has
unequalness of intervals and irregularity of sequencing.

''The Directions and Dimensions of Corpus Planning'' is a shorter chapter (only
4.5 pages), which treats the problem of how to understand the notion
''modernization'' and its relation with corpus planning in an age of
globalization. The author tells readers ''there is no (and can be no) politically
innocent or value-free corpus planning''(p. 21). If this is true, corpus
planning, just like status planning, is also an activity driven by politics,
profit and other nonlinguistic factors. In the following chapters, the author
constructs and presents a framework of corpus planning, which include 4 bipolar
dimensions: purity and vernacularity, uniqueness and westernization,
classicization and panification, Ausbau and Einbau.

Chapter 4 investigates the relation between purity and vernacularity, which
reflect the attitudes of corpus planners to ''foreignisms'' in their own language.
If ''[p]urity is not easy to come by, neither in language nor in the rest of
life''(p. 26), why do the language planners still prefer it? Is a pure language
more powerful than a mixed language? In this chapter, the author gives some
interesting examples. Americans are more tolerant regarding the messiness of
their language than the French; American English is ''the (international) lingua
franca of an informal, egalitarian, frequently irreverent culture that places
much higher value on folksiness and trendiness than on formality and purity''(p.
34). Perhaps, we have to do much more investigation before saying that an
international language should be a mixed language, but at least for now we can
say ''vernacularity rules the English waves!''(p. 37).

Compared with purity, as one of two dimensions in Chapter 5, uniqueness opposes
all borrowings from other languages. Chapter 4 indicates that purity is a
difficult goal in corpus planning. So, uniqueness is a much more extreme and
difficultly attained task for language planners. Linguistically, ''very few of
the world's 5000+ languages are 'isolates', that is, really unrelated to any
other language or grouping of languages anywhere in the world''(p. 41).
Sociologically, it is also difficult to find a language community completely
unlinked with other communities. Contrasted with uniqueness, Westernization is
on the other end of this bipolar in corpus planning. Today, Westernization often
is limited to Anglicization, because ''the importance of English in all sorts of
higher (post-elementary) education makes it appear to be an 'open sesame' in
many parts of the world''(p. 51). Many practices prove, ''neither choice is
without some negative consequences, but both are to some extent, also desirable
and desired at the same time''(p. 60) In this sense, language planning is a
compromised activity (Liu 2006).

Classicization and panification is another bipolar dimension in corpus planning
and the theme of the sixth chapter. Classicization relates to corpus planning
that may be desired for the vernacular of an already united and recognized
entity. Panification hopes to reconstruct or reconnect different vernaculars to
a hypothetical classical language. Obviously, the latter is more difficult than
the former. Thus, in practical language planning, panification has very low
success rate. More commonly, we can find the projects of planned (artificial)
language based on the panification principle (Blanke 1989).

In chapter 7, the author use two German terms Ausbau and Einbau to explain the
relation between two languages in corpus planning. Ausbau is the efforts to
overcome and decrease the similarity between the structural, lexical and writing
systems in the related languages. Contrastingly, Einbau aims at fostering and
increasing the similarity. The cases show that Ausbau and Einbau are not simply
opposite. They are often sequentially linked and are seriously influenced by
social and political factors. Quoting the latest sentence in this chapter,
''corpus planning is no different from any other tool that enhances human control
over the environment; every increase in human power requires a corresponding
increase in human responsibility relative to the uses and users of that power.''
(p. 102).

How do we construct the interdependence and independence clusters for the four
bipolar dimensions and eight poles in the corpus planning of written languages?
This is the task of Chapter 8. The author categorizes ''purity, uniqueness,
classicism and Ausbau'' as the independence cluster, because they all try to
foster the ''authentic individuality'' of one's own language. The remaining four
poles are labeled as the interdependence cluster for underlining the coexisting
relations between the languages.

Viewed from these 8 poles, a natural question is raised: can opposites and
incommensurables be combined? Perhaps, there is not a clear answer yet, because
the author tells us ''all in all, corpus planning reflects all of the foibles of
human nature, rather than runs counter to them, and we are a very contradictory
species... Could corpus planning really do otherwise and would it be any more
(or less) successful if it did? A greater or lesser decisional inconsistency may
be its saving graces, its human grace.''(p. 116-117). In other words, language
planning is not a simply activity, because ''to plan language is to plan
society.''(Cooper 1989: 182)

Chapter 10 is the concluding summary of this book. Just like the implications in
the subtitle, corpus planning is not easily and clearly distinguished from
status planning. ''[C]orpus planning proceeds in accord with the more general
politicolinguistic culture of the society that engages in it''(p. 125).

EVALUATION
The book provides a new look at corpus planning. As one of the most important
figures in language planning, the author tries to build a broad, integrative
framework of corpus planning in written language and discusses many cases of
language planning in detail. His efforts are very useful for understanding the
essentials of language planning in general, and political/social factors in the
activities in language planning in particular.

The book is intended as an introductory text for higher undergraduate and lower
graduate level courses in language planning and policy. Formally, it is very
appropriate for such targets with the contents of 126 pages and 11 questions for
class discussion or written assignment. Substantively, it is not only useful for
the aforementioned course of language planning, but also is valuable for
researchers in the field of language planning and language policy, and more
generally, for all who are interested in human intervention in the language
developmental processes.

It is noteworthy that, although the book is described as a text for corpus
planning alone, if we consider that the author is trying to construct a
framework of corpus planning based on nonlinguistic principles, it is also a
good reference for the students and researchers of status planning. It seems to
me, however, if you are searching for a text for corpus planning from a
traditional point of view, there may be better choices.

The book is well organized, but the figures, particularly, the maps accessed
from Internet, have lower quality.

The author writes in the preface, ''Language planning is ultimately judged not by
the its small coteries of specialized language planners but, most crucially, by
its intended consumers''(p. x). This is also true of the book, please judge it
for yourself.

REFERENCES
Blanke, Detlev (1989) Planned languages - a survey of some of the main problems.
In Schubert, Klaus (ed.), _Interlinguistics. Aspects of the Science of Planned
Languages_ (Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs 42). Berlin-New York:
Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 63-87.

Cooper Robert L. (1989) _Language planning and social change_. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.

Hall, Robert A. (1950) _Leave your language alone!_ Ithaca: Linguistica.

Kaplan, Robert B. & Richard B. Baldauf (1997) _Language planning: from practice
to theory_. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Liu, Haitao (2006) Language planning and language policy: the definition's
change and field's development. In _Theory and practice of language planning_.
Beijing: Yuwen Chubanshe. pp. 55-60. In Chinese.

ABOUT THE REVIEWER
LIU Haitao is professor of applied and computational linguistics at the
Communication University of China (CUC). His research interests include language
planning, computational linguistics and syntactic theory.
 

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