Sociology of Language: A New Generation of Scholarship


Chair: Rakhmiel Peltz

Managing Language Loyalty? Towards Prestige Planning in Sweden

Francis M. Hult (University of Pennsylvania)


After several years of legislative discussion, the Swedish parliament approved in 2005 a plan for national language policy and created a new language planning agency. While much of the discussion focused on strengthening Swedish as a national language, the plan sets forth objectives for managing the full range of linguistic diversity in Sweden: national minority languages, immigrant languages, foreign languages, and Swedish. A major challenge Sweden now faces is developing language policies that balance multiple language loyalties. The government has pinpointed the educational sector as a keystone for this challenge. Accordingly, existing educational language policy must be revisited with the new objectives in mind. In this presentation, I analyze how different languages are framed in relation to each other in current educational language policy, how multiple language loyalties are framed variously as conflicting and complementary. Juxtaposing this analysis with the objectives articulated in the newly proposed plan, I suggest that prestige planning, which relates to perceptions about functional distribution, is a useful dimension for future language management in Sweden.


Francis M. Hult is a Ph.D. candidate in educational linguistics. His research, which uses an ecology of language approach, focuses on the position of English as it relates to language policy, linguistic culture, and language education in Sweden. He has served as a visiting lecturer in English at Lund University in Sweden where he taught courses in sociolinguistics and grammar, editor-in-chief of Working Papers in Educational Linguistics, director of the Educational Linguistics Forum at the University of Pennsylvania, and he is the founder of the Educational Linguistics Listserv, Edling-L. He has presented at conferences in the United States and Europe and his work appears in the journals World Englishes (with King and Berg), Language Policy, and Current Issues in Language Planning.

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Encountering America: Di yidishe kindervelt, 1917-1918

Naomi Prawer Kadar (Columbia University)


Di yidishe kindervelt is the first Yiddish-language periodical that came into being on the heels of the creation of the secular Yiddish school movement in the United States. The educators who established the magazine in 1917 were ambivalent as they wanted to embrace their new home yet feared the estrangement of their children from their beloved Yiddish language and culture. The periodical demonstrates an interplay of ideology and esthetics, melded together to create a viable American Yiddish literature for youth that would culturally nurture the younger generation and keep them bound to their parentsí ideals as they grew up as Jews in America. This paper will examine the complex relationship to America as expressed by the both fiction and non-fiction narratives in Di yidishe kindervelt.


Naomi Prawer Kadar is a Ph.D. candidate, completing her dissertation in Yiddish Language and Literature. The focus of her research centers on the development of Yiddish secular educational systems in the United States, with particular emphasis on the emergence of Yiddish children's literature. Her dissertation traces the evolution of American children's magazines in Yiddish. Ms. Kadar has served as the Director of the Workmen's Circle supplementary school system where she created innovative Yiddish-language teaching materials, trained Yiddish teachers and developed curriculum. She has taught at Columbia University, The Jewish Theological Seminary of America and at the Uriel Weinreich Summer Program for Yiddish Language and Culture, under the auspices of the YIVO and Columbia University. She has published in Afn Shvel and on the online Mendele Review: Yiddish Language and Literature and has presented her work at the meetings of the Association for Jewish Studies.

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The Chinese Case in the US: Planning Language Education, Building Societal Capital

Shuhan Wang (University of Pennsylvania; Delaware Department of Education)


Being framed as an economic competitiveness and national security issue, the study of Chinese language in the U.S. has recently received unprecedented attention that presents both an opportunity and challenge to the Chinese language teaching field and educational systems. This paper builds on the language planning framework advanced by Joshua A. Fishman and takes a language ecological perspective to examine the Chinese case in the US. In addition to suggesting strategies to build the infrastructure of the Chinese field, the paper proposes the notion of biliteracy in the dominant and heritage/second Discourses as human, cultural, and social capital for individuals, groups, and the society-at-large. As cultural capital, biliteracy Discourses enable individuals, communities and societies to connect to the past and future generations. As human and social capital, biliteracy Discourses empower them to move forward into the future.


Shuhan C. Wang is Supervisor for World Languages and International Education for the Department of Education in the State of Delaware, USA. Her research interests include intergenerational transmission of heritage language and culture; heritage and foreign language education; teacher education and professional development; language policies, planning, and practices; and international education. She serves on the boards of Foreign Language Annals (ACTFL), Chinese Language Teacher Association (CLTA), and the Longview Foundation for International Understanding. Since 1998, she has been directing the Chinese Teachers Summer Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, dedicated to the training and preparation of Chinese language teachers in the US. She frequently speaks at conferences, conducts workshops, and evaluates or participates in national or international projects. Examples of her publications include the recently released report of the Asia Society, Expanding Chinese Language Capacity in the United States (2005), Chinese for Youth, Vol. 1 (Far East Book, 1997), and chapters in Mapping the Course of the Chinese Language Field (CLTA, 1999), Heritage Languages in America, Preserving a National Resource (Delta Systems, 2001), and Heritage Language Acquisition: A New Field Emerging (Lawrence Erlbaum, in press, co-authored with Dr. Nancy Hornberger).


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