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Nation State, Devolution and the Parliamentary Discourse of Minority Languages

Wilson, John and Stapleton, Karyn (2003) Nation State, Devolution and the Parliamentary Discourse of Minority Languages. Journal of Language and Politics, 2 (1). pp. 5-30. [Journal article]

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Devolution in the UK has engendered debates about which language (or languages) should be the language of parliament in the respective regional institutions. Simultaneously, the European Union, while officially endorsing cultural and linguistic diversity, is moving towards a supranational state which operates alongside devolution and regional autonomies. In this context, the contestation of the language of parliamentary discourse can be seen as a site of power struggle and political negotiation. The present analysis focuses on a specific example of regional parliamentary discourse from Northern Ireland, in which Members debate the desirability of using Ulster-Scots and Irish, alongside English, in official House proceedings. This can be seen to operationalise ‘language’ in specific, but interrelated, argumentative contexts: (a) as a form of agreed and formally recognised communication; (b) as a natural right, reflecting individual culture or heritage; (c) as a legal and formal right; (d) as a political symbol. These themes are discussed in terms of ‘nationalist’ and ‘sovereign’ state arguments, with reference to both the political context of Northern Ireland, and the processes of devolution and supranationalism, in the broader political arena.

Item Type:Journal article
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Communication
ID Code:2278
Deposited By: Dr Karyn Stapleton
Deposited On:02 Dec 2009 10:39
Last Modified:16 Jun 2011 13:23

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