Language, Language Planning, and U.S. Public Policy

  • Jacob S. Siegel


Some linguists hold to the view that language evolves essentially through natural processes with little group intervention, but this is hardly true and public intervention plays a major role in this process. The development of a language is really an interplay between the natural creative acts of the users and the more deliberate interventions of society and its more public spokespersons. Society intervenes in the formation of a language both when the government passes laws relating to language use and programs and when a public institution, a government agency, or a public figure codifies the vocabulary, spelling, and pronunciation of the language in dictionaries, or selects and employs common school texts in its school system. This is public policy and planning at work on the language. Public policy and planning with respect to language form and use refers then to government sponsorship and support of the use of a language in a specific form, as expressed in law, statements by government officials, or government financial support. A language is official when a specific law or government edict so designates it and it is used exclusively, along with any other official language, as the language of the government and its publications, and the public is not required to recognize any other language (s).

References and Suggested Readings

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Voting Rights

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Official English and English Only

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Language Resources

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacob S. Siegel
    • 1
  1. 1.North BethesdaUSA

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