Language Beliefs Influencing Language Management
By the early 1990s, the Regional Assembly in Ajaccio was a fully functioning chamber able to consider devolved matters, such as education, but without the power to legislate. While still bound to respect the Constitution of France (the island remaining subject to laws passed in Paris), Ajaccio emerged as a principal agent in language management in the final decade of the twentieth century. One of the effects of devolution was the co-existence of two formal, official agents in language management for the island (as well as other authoritative agents such as the European Union). Although Paris and Ajaccio were not set on conflicting courses in terms of language policy on Corsica, it is possible to identify an essential difference between the two institutions. In Ajaccio, given the separate elections for the Regional Assembly, the voting population of the island had – and still has – the opportunity to elect someone to represent them at a local level whom they might not support at national elections. Moreover, given the nature of politics on the island (not always a mirror of the mainland) certain groupings were bound to be better represented in Ajaccio than in Paris, especially the Corsican nationalists. As already noted, not all nationalists are language activists, and not all language activists are nationalists, but it is worth recalling, as Jaffe (1999, 126–131) outlines, nationalists as well as the majority of other elected representatives at the Regional Assembly defended, supported and promoted Corsican. With the first elections to this Assembly, dedicated proponents of Corsican in the form of the various nationalist movements were elected to serve in regional government. In the 1991 election, 21% of the seats in the Regional Assembly were won by the nationalist movements, a proportion which rose to 25% in 1992. Later, the various groupings held 27% of the seats after the 1999 elections.
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