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Theoretical and Methodological Considerations

State Security and Language Planning

State security and language planning and policy are closely connected in language policy theory, as both areas are of strategic interest to any nation and hence are sensitive to the geopolitics of the region where the country is located (Rajagopalan 2008). Furthermore, as argued by Ricento and Hornberger (1996), major political issues, such as the preservation of power or independence and opposition to state enemies, are often the principal impulses behind state involvement in language matters. Considering that the relationship between languages and national security is not new, language planning and policy studies have dealt surprisingly little with national security-related language planning and policy in a conceptually systematic and sound way. This may be related to the problem at the heart of classical language planning theory: the conceptualization of the nature of the language problems that official policies are designed to solve (Lo Bianco 2004). In his analysis of post- September 11 national language policy debates in the US, Lo Bianco (2008) criticizes technical and rational analysis of language policy issues that fail to capture the discursive dimensions of language policy making. In cases where language planning involves compounding the difficulties of trust and loyalty of a minority language group, defining the problem that has to be solved by a language policy is not at all straightforward (Lo Bianco 2008). In these cases, the problems become essentially ideological artifacts, reinforcements of ideologies used to justify the chosen harsh policy interventions (Edelman 1988).

Liddicoat states that there is an orientation in language planning which is not directly related to conflict management or prevention, but operates indirectly by creating a policy context in which issues of security and responses to threats are decided and enacted (Liddicoat 2008). This discursive practice in language planning is important in the context of the present chapter, since here the creation of perceptions of threat, i.e. the discursive construction of security as language use- and status-related, authorizes or precludes particular courses of action and constructs groups as oppositional on the basis of different languages or as allies on the basis of a shared language. The aim of the present chapter is to focus on this orientation in language planning, i.e. how language planning as a security issue enters into the discourse and into “existence” in language ideological debates in media. In the next sections, we will discuss methodological approaches to analyzing discourses in large data sets.

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