Ager, Dennis. (2001) Motivation in Language Planning and
Language Policy. Multilingual Matters Series 119.
Multilingual Matters, vi + 210 pages. Paperback ISBN
1-85359-528-4, hardcover ISBN 1-85359-529-2.
Reviewed by Nariyo Kono, the University of Arizona.
Ager sheds light on motives for action on language behavior
as psychological and social phenomena. In his previous
studies (1996, 1999), the author investigated language
policies of contemporary France and Britain and concluded
that three motives were important: identity, insecurity and
the creation of an image for the external world. In this
book, he extends his views of motives and includes various
examples of language policy and planning in the world.
Seven motives are discussed in this book: identity, ideology,
image, insecurity, inequality, integration and instrumentality.
He further expands his discussions of motives in relation to
attitudes and goals. Using case studies from Spain and Japan,
chapters one to six explore main aspects of motives, attitudes
and goals in detail. Chapters seven to nine return to the
overall discussion of motives, attitudes, and goals.
Chapter 1: IDENTITY
This chapter reviews language policies that are motivated by
beliefs about the specific identity of communities, and
about the link between linguistic and political communities.
It includes five cases: French and regional languages, 1539-
1950; Arabic in Algeria, 1962-1990; Catalan, 1978-1998;
language policies in India; and the Welsh language act of
1993. Ager suggests that French nationalism and national
identity are based on the principles of the 1789 Revolution
and the ideas of the Republic and are tied to the notion of
French as a symbol of national identity. Since Algeria
gained independence from France in 1962, classical Arabic
has been promoted as the official and national language and the
use of the French language is restricted to very few domains.
Ager explains that Catalan, one of the four recognized
community languages in Spain, with Basque, Castilian, and
Galician, symbolizes autonomy of the Catalonian region. The
Catalan identity is defined "someone who lives and works in
Catalonia and wants be a Catalan" (quoted in Guivernau,
1997) rather than one based on ethnic factors (p.25). India
chose both Hindi and English for official uses with one or
two other state languages (the 3 + or -1 language policy)
out of more than 1,600 languages. Indian identity can be
expressed through non-Indian language (Indian English) to
some extent; yet, English alone cannot be the basis of
Indian identity. "The Welsh case is clearly a matter of
reversing language shift, in Fishman's (1991) terms." (p.35).
The future of Wales as a bilingual country will depend on
what happens in the political and economic arenas.
Chapter 2: IDEOLOGY
The debate over standard English in the United Kingdom is
discussed in this chapter. The national curriculum and
political agenda, whose contents originated in a political
ideology, stated that it was the aim of government to
promote standard English. The aim was "to ensure that standard
English was taught to all children, while their own social
dialects or languages other than English were kept out of
mainstream education." (p.52). Issues of language varieties
and the role of language learning were set aside. There
have been contrasts in attitudes between linguists and
politicians. The author concludes that ideology, beliefs and
values blinded the conservative educational thinkers of the
early 1980's and prevented them from accepting the nature of
language, the range of language varieties and their social
role. However, Ager also argues that similar ideological
misconceptions prevented many linguists and educationalists
from accepting any views on the social role of languages
different from their own (p.55).
Chapter 3: IMAGE
Ager defines image as "the reflection of identity, and an
intended projection of that identity" (p.74). Some official
language policy-makers try to create positive images by
creating and implementing official language policies. In
this chapter, the cases of Germany and Japan are introduced
as countries that try to improve their image, especially
after their defeat in World War II. German is the official
language of Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein, one of the
official languages of Switzerland and Luxembourg, a regional
language in Belgium and Italy, and is also spoken by minorities
in France, in some parts of eastern Europe and in immigrant
countries. German is a symbol of German-speaking countries,
a language of international communication and wildly perceived
as a language of culture. Japan struggles to attain its image
as an economically developed country and has tried to promote
learning Japanese overseas; however, Japanese has not been
extensively learned overseas. In promoting
internationalization after the 1945 defeat, debate ensued in
Japan over the written language - promoting an alphabetic
script (romaji) or maintaining a complex writing system,
which includes two kinds of phonetic symbols (kana and
katakana) as well as Chinese characters (kanji). The Japanese
writing system, however, remains the same after political debates
showing opposite views toward imperialism and democracy,
modernization and conservatism.
Chapter 4: INSECURITY
In this chapter, the author examines a language policy which
might have been motivated by fear of Gypsies in central
Europe. Gypsies' lifestyles, religions, and languages are
not clearly defined. First, there are many dialects of
Romany, and some of them are influenced by Rumanian. Second,
Gypsies do not have political authority structure. Those
factors seem to cause fear among non-Romany people. Ager
states that Gypsies who live in the Czech and Slovak
Republics and in Hungary have suffered from the new policy.
He argues that this policy is associated with the treatment
of Gypsies and Jews by Nazis since Jews and Gypsies were the
two racial groups who were targeted by the Nazis and many of
them were sent to concentration camps. In these three
countries, "citizenship laws have declared an official
language, and arrangements for linguistic minorities have
indicated a desire to exclude them from the benefits of
Chapter 5: INEQUALITY
Tollefson (1991), Fairclough (1989) and others suggest that
language planning generally reflects an imposition or
domination by elite groups that hold power. A great number
of cases fall into this type. However, some cases suggest
that correcting inequalities in society could be achieved
through the creation of language policies. Three such cases
are introduced in this chapter: 1) the movements toward
'political correctness' in language in the United States
stemming from the women's rights movement; 2) the European
Charter for regional and minority languages; and 3) the
success of the Australian Languages Policy in regard to
immigrants' languages. These three cases reflect efforts
toward the equitable distribution of resources, language or
human rights, and the resolution of social problems associated
with social injustice. Ager suggests that it is important
to distinguish fundamental orientations in language planning
introduced by Ruiz (1984) as language as a resource, language
as a right and language as a problem.
Chapter 6: INTEGRATION AND INSTRUMENTALITY
This chapter discusses the notion of language-as-instrument.
Ager focuses on individual motives in this chapter in order
to explore whether individual and community language
behaviors can be planned and what the motivations might be
for such planning. Immigrants to the United States include
two groups: refugees who seen freedom from persecution in
their home countries; and migrants who look for
opportunities for economic prosperity. Their motives in
language use are two-fold: a desire to maintain their
culture and identity, and a wish to assimilate into the
dominant society. Public attitudes in the United Sates
oscillate between traditional monolingualism and support for
assimilation on one hand, and multiculturalism and
affirmative action on the other. Individual motivations and
attitudes toward language vary as well. Gardner and Lambert
(1959) suggest two types of individual motivation:
instrumental and integrative. Ager investigates people's
motives by conducting in-depth interviews in various
settings, and concludes that instrumental and integrative
motives are inextricably interrelated.
Chapter 7: MEASURING MOTIVATION IN LANGUAGE PLANNING
This chapter reviews three components of motivation and
methods of measuring them. There are three components
associated with an attitude: the cognitive; the affective
and the conative (behavioral). Associated with each
component are one or two scales to measure these components.
To measure the cognitive component, Ager proposes an
"excellence" scale and a vitality scale. He also proposes an
attractive scale and an action scale. The attractiveness
scale summarizes individual or community attitudes toward a
particular language; the action scale measures a desire to
act for support intervention, status, corpus and others.
Of these scales, the author argues that the attractiveness
scale is the most central and important. In addition to the
properties of each scale, Ager examines the relationships
between motives and attitudinal structures. He expands the
motives he discusses in previous chapters to twelve:
identity (personal); identity (social); ideology; image;
insecurity; maintenance of identity; defense of identity;
maintenance of inequality; correction of inequality;
integration; improvement of instrument; and despair.
Further, he proposes three types of goals: ideal; objective
Chapter 8: THE LANGUAGE BEHAVIOR OF INDIVIDUALS AND
This chapter examines how goals and strategies relate to the
scales Ager introduces in the previous chapter. Several
individual as well as community cases are examined, and
motives are identified in each case. Ager argues that these
motives can be related to different scores of the scales and
to different goals, although the attitudinal structures seem
inconsistent with their relationships to the consequential
The motives of minority and powerless communities are also
examined. The relationships between motives, attitudes, and
strategies show that many communities have mixed motives.
Furthermore, Ager concludes that one attitude does not
necessarily lead to the same outcome.
Chapter 9: LANGUAGE POLICY: THE LANGUAGE BEHAVIOR OF
THOSE IN POWER
In this chapter, Ager discusses language policy in its
relation to power. He argues that individual powerful
states, governments and people frequently reveal
particular motives such as ideology, image, the defense
of identity and the maintenance of inequality rather than
feelings of insecurity, maintaining identity, correcting
inequality or despair. Ager examines those motives in
individual cases found in the literature, and discusses them
in relation to their motivational structure.
Chapter 10: CONCLUSION
Based on the example cases, Ager concludes that there is a
lack of predictive force of attitudinal structure. The
affective component in particular does not seem to predict
actions. Many cases indicate that the creation and recreation
of social identity along with the willingness to act in
conformity, are the key elements in language policy
Ager's book sheds light on one of the critical areas in
language policy and language planning. He examines the role
of individuals' and communities' motivations, attitudes,
goals, and relations to each other with respect to language
policy and planning. Ager's evidence is well-rounded, coming
from a huge range of language communities around the world.
He constructs an analytical tool that could be valuable for
its thoroughness and its sheer breadth.
The attitudinal structure and Ager's scales need to be
examined more closely because many others may be able to use
this model to examine other present and future language
policies. Also, and more importantly, I would like to hear
more about the process by which he determined what each
community's motive was. For example, the Ainu community is
primarily characterized by "despair" in the book. However,
the recent report (Sawai, 1998) shows increasing number
of Ainu speakers owning to a grassroots effort to increase
Ainu usage. Is this still a case of "despair" as a motive,
or something else?
Nevertheless, the book challenges the most important and
difficult topic in the area, and Ager's study is valuable to
those who research, teach, or study this field.
It could be recommended as a textbook in a language planning
or policy course.
Ager, D. E. (1996). Language policy in Britain and France.
Ager, D. E. (1999). Identity, insecurity and image. France
and language. Multilingual Matters Series 112. Clevedon:
Fairclough, N. (1989). Language and power. London: Longman.
Fishman, J. A. (1991). Reversing language shift. Clevedon:
Gardner, R., & Lambert, W. (1959). Motivational variables in
second-language acquisition. Canadian Journal of
Psychology, 13. 266-72.
Ruiz, R. (1984). Orientations in language planning.
National Association for Bilingual Educational Journal, 8.
Sawai, H. (1998). The present situation of the Ainu language.
In K. Matsumura (ed.) Studies in endangered languages: Papers
from the International symposium on endangered languages.
ICHEL Linguistic Studies Vol.1. Tokyo: Hituzi Syobo.
Tollefson, J. W. (1991). Planning language, planning
inequality. London: Longman.
Nariyo Kono is a member of the Department of East Asian
Studies at the University of Arizona. Her research
interests include theories in language planning and language
policy, classroom cultures, language pedagogy and Japanese
linguistics. She is also a member of the Initiative of
Heritage Languages in America. Her current research focuses
on the heritage language learners in a Japanese program and
their families, who live in Tucson, Arizona.