Language Ideologies and Minority Language Policies in Sweden historical and contemporary perspectives
Abstract: This thesis concerns the nature and functioning of language ideologies in Sweden, principally as regards beliefs and attitudes of the majority group towards minority language issues. This includes a study of the history of Sweden's minority language policies towards the Saami and the Finnish-speaking Tornedalians. The historical changes in such policies and language ideologies - evolving from a state of pragmatism and 'indifferent tolerance', via a nationalistically motivated assimilationist ideology, to a contemporary state of official 'pluralism' as well as conflicting perspectives and policies - provide a background to studies of contemporary issues, especially the media debates on mother tongue instruction ('home language teaching') for minority children. Furthermore, the controversial question of language requirements for naturalization (citizenship acquisition) is approached, where the rationale behind such requirements as well as the problems of assessing language competence in this context are discussed. Such aspects were further studied in a large-scale questionnaire survey investigation among a randomly selected sample of the Swedish population. The primary purpose of the survey was to explore and correlate language attitudes (or ideological components) in order to investigate the structure of different language ideologies. For this reason, variables concerning both 'internal variation' (of the Swedish language) and 'external variation' (e.g. the status and allocation of minority languages) were included. In this context, the question of 'paradoxes' or inconsistencies in ideological systems is raised, which includes a discussion of possible contradictory components in majority-based, 'monolingualist' ideologies of language.
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