Language policy studies, hitherto, have largely been studies within the subdisciplines mentioned in our opening paragraph: language planning, language policy, and so on. Perhaps the most influential scholar in the field has been the sociologist of language Joshua Fishman who published his monumental Language Loyalty in the United States in 1966. His work followed in the footsteps of the work of the pioneering German sociologist H. Kloss, who attempted to document the decline and assimilation of the German language in America, as well as other investigators of multilingual societies and linguistic assimilation, i.e. such pioneers as Einar Haugen (Norwegian), Uriel Weinreich (Yiddish), Charles Ferguson (Arabic, diglossia), Dell Hymes (Ethnography of Speaking), and John Gumperz (Indian multilingualism), whose insights could then be applied to the study of American bilingualism, assimilation, language retention, maintenance, shift, and loss.
At about the same time there arose an interest in what came to be known as `language planning', stimulated by the work of Haugen, Rubin, Ferguson, Fishman, Neustupný, Cobarrubias and Fishman. The direct impact of this field on domestic policies in the United States has been attenuated, perhaps reflecting dominant attitudes of suspicion towards planning and intervention generally, as `governmental interference'.
Yet another source of the current growth of interest in language policy issues is sociolinguistics, most notably that developed by Labov (1972) through his studies of nonstandard dialects such as African American Vernacular English. Those studies led to new conceptualizations of variation and variability in language, with theoretical consequences for the generally-agreed picture of what constitutes a language.
The contrasting but societally-oriented work of Fishman, Hymes, Ferguson, Labov and others undoubtedly served as encouragement to the increasing number of scholars who undertook studies of linguistically-neglected and often politically-subordinated languages, such as the Spanish of Mexican Americans, the different varieties of French spoken in Canada and Haiti, Hawaiian English, and Creole English in newly-independent Caribbean and African nations. Fishman and others added to the attention given to the study of immigrant languages in the United States (German, Yiddish, etc.) study of the relationship of standard and nonstandard languages to the dominant English culture, extending Ferguson's notion of diglossia to cover such situations as Standard English vs. Black English (Creole English, Hawaiian `Pidgin' English, ...), Canadian English vs. Canadian French, Standard French vs. Haitian Creole, and so on.