Language planning

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Language planning is the conscious, deliberate and systematic influencing of the function, structure or acquisition of languages ​​or language varieties within a language community , usually as part of the language policy of a government or political group. These ideologically and pragmatically determined political factors often have a greater influence on language than the linguistic factors in language development.

Motives and ideology

Language planning is often seen in terms of its importance for national identity and integrity, its creation, maintenance or reinforcement. Language planning is sometimes equated with “nation planning”. A more modern example of the successful connection is Croatia, the advocates of a Kurdish state for the language-political efforts on the way to becoming a nation.

When the nation states emerged in the 19th century, the language often played the main role in national self-image and the demarcation from other countries (in the Scandinavian countries also through orthographic peculiarities), especially in supranational cultural nations such as Germany.

According to Cobarrubias, every language planning in the area of ​​status planning is subject to an ideological orientation: He differentiates between assimilation, language pluralism, internationalization and regionalization, but leaves further orientations open. The political and cultural elite play the main role in determining the type of orientation. In addition to or within ideological factors, pragmatic factors can also be determined, such as improving and facilitating communication or language learning.


With Einar Haugen and other linguists, language planning measures can be differentiated according to clients and actors, their basis of legitimation , the definition of the problem , the objective , the fields of work and the beneficiaries of the measures.

Client and actors

Language planning is often assigned to a government's language policy , but it is also operated by NGOs and individuals. In addition to politicians and linguists, actors are mostly government officials, journalists and teachers.


The goals of language planning include

  • the economic promotion of minorities by improving their communication options. But it is also viewed critically as a means of political domination.
  • Writing a non-written language: Bantu languages
  • Creation of a standard variety : Frisian , Norwegian ( Nynorsk and Bokmål )
  • Expansion of dialects to independent languages: Bosnian (controversial)
  • Expansion or modernization of a language for scientific purposes
  • Language maintenance: Rumantsch Grischun , Ladin Dolomitan
  • Rescuing Endangered Languages: Australian Languages
  • Language revival and redesign: Ivrit
  • Restoring and emphasizing the special character of a language: Croatian (archaisms, regionalisms)
  • Development and dissemination of a planned language
  • Introduction of new official or school languages: Hindi
  • Repulsion of previous languages ​​or lingua franca: French in Algeria
  • Language reform, such as a spelling reform to simplify use, but also spelling and grammar
  • Language cleaning (purism) to prevent external influences and internal processes of change
  • Speech diffusion: attempting to increase the number of speakers at the expense of another
  • Lexical modernization, for example by including neologisms in the vocabulary, for example postal and railway vocabulary, created in Germany by administrative officials and enforced by administrative act
  • Standardization of technical terms

Planning dimensions

According to Heinz Kloss, a distinction is made between corpus planning and status planning . In 1989 Robert L. Cooper added the aspect of application planning.

Corpus planning

  • refers to the structure, spelling, pronunciation and vocabulary of the language. This can also include the definition of a font for non-scripted languages. Standardization of languages can be seen as part of corpus planning .

Status planning

  • Status planning is intended to promote the role of language in a society, to ensure that it is used, for example, as the language of instruction. In addition to the linguistic aspects, this primarily includes sociological and political science aspects. The status also relates to the prestige of the sponsored language compared to other stigmatized or devalued language forms. Status is assigned according to four criteria that were described by Heinz Kloss and William Stewart in 1968 : origin, standardization, legal status and vitality.
    • Origin of language - originally or introduced from outside
    • Degree of standardization
    • Legal status
      • only official language (French in France)
      • one of the official languages ​​(English and Afrikaans in South Africa)
      • regional official language (Basque, Galician, Catalan in today's Spain, Igbo in Nigeria)
      • Language sponsored for special purposes and on special occasions, but not an official language (Spanish in New Mexico)
      • tolerated language, recognized but ignored (Indian languages ​​in the USA)
      • Forbidden, rejected or restricted language (Basque, Galician, Catalan during the time of Franco's rule)
    • Vitality in the sense of the proportion of active speakers in the total population. Kloss and Stewart differentiate between 5 vitality classes.

William Stewart presents 10 areas of application:

  1. official, sometimes written into the constitution
  2. regionally restricted, like French in Quebec
  3. cross-border, used in several countries (German)
  4. used internationally for certain communicative purposes, such as English, formerly French as a diplomatic and international language
  5. metropolitan, such as Dutch and French in Brussels
  6. group-related depending on ethnicity or culture (Hebrew, Yiddish)
  7. Commonly used as the language of instruction in the education system ( Urdu in West Pakistan and Bengali in East Pakistan )
  8. introduced as a school subject (Latin)
  9. used literarily or scientifically
  10. religious for ritual purposes, such as Arabic for reading the Qur'an

Robert Cooper added three subspecies of the official function: legally prescribed language, language of everyday political work and symbolic forms of language that represent the state. He also distinguishes between two functional areas:

  1. Language used in mass media
  2. Language in the workplace

Application planning

  • Application planning or language acquisition planning should ensure that the users of the language accept it and rate it positively.



Confucius considered language planning to be the most important political task of government. When asked what his first measure as ruler would be, he replied that the first thing he would do is correct the meaning of the words.

Carolingian educational reform

An example from the early Middle Ages is the controlled influencing of the vocabulary and syntax of Old High German in the Carolingian educational reform , which, due to the imperial capitularies, was mainly implemented in the imperial monasteries by training the preachers and clerics who became the cultural and political elite of the political association of the HRR . The main aim was to convey the basics of Christian faith and the Christian understanding of the state in a uniform and clear manner in order to ward off opposing religious and political forces. The means were the revision of culturally fundamental texts and a new culture of reading .

Languages ​​in developing and emerging countries

Examples of successful language planning and standardization are third world languages ​​such as Swahili and Indonesian .


Newspeak is a fictional example of a form of language that has been redesigned for ideological reasons to control communication and thinking. It is part of a totalitarian system of rule portrayed by George Orwell in his novel 1984 .

See also

Trade journals

  • Current Issues in Language Planning (Routledge) Home page
  • Language Policy (Springer) Home page
  • Language Problems and Language Planning. Home page


Individual evidence

  1. Kaplan B., Robert, and Richard B. Baldauf Jr. Language Planning from Practice to Theory. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd., 1997
  2. Florian Coulmas: Language and State: Studies on Language Planning and Language Policy . Walter de Gruyter, 1985, ISBN 978-3-11-010436-3 , p. 15 ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  4. ^ Tessa Carroll: Language Planning and Language Change in Japan . Psychology Press, 2001, ISBN 978-0-7007-1383-7 ( [accessed February 26, 2017]).
  5. ^ K. Langston, A. Peti-Stantic: Language Planning and National Identity in Croatia . Springer, 2014, ISBN 978-1-137-39060-8 ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  6. ^ Nation State building or language planning | Kurdish Academy of Language. Retrieved February 26, 2017 (English).
  7. ^ Ernst H. Jahr: Language Conflict and Language Planning . Walter de Gruyter, 1993, ISBN 978-3-11-088658-0 ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  8. Juan Cobarrubias: Progress in Language Planning: International Perspectives . Walter de Gruyter, 1983, ISBN 978-90-279-3358-4 , p. 63 ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  9. Juan Cobarrubias: Progress in Language Planning: International Perspectives . Walter de Gruyter, 1983, ISBN 978-90-279-3358-4 , p. 62 ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  10. ^ D. Alan Cruse: Lexicology: an international handbook on the nature and structure of words and vocabularies . Walter de Gruyter, 2005, ISBN 978-3-11-017147-1 ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  11. ^ Helmut Glück: Metzler Lexicon Language . Springer-Verlag, 2016, ISBN 978-3-476-00088-0 ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  12. a b Cobarrubias, Juan. "Ethical Issues in Status Planning." Progress in Language Planning: International Perspectives . Eds. Juan Cobarrubias and Joshua Fishman. New York: Mouton Publishers, 1983.
  13. Moshe Nahir: L anguage Planning Goals: A Classification . In: Christina Bratt Paulston and G. Richard Tucker: Sociolinguistics: The Essential Readings. Oxford, Blackwell, 2003.
  14. ^ Tessa Carroll: Language Planning and Language Change in Japan . Psychology Press, 2001, ISBN 978-0-7007-1383-7 , pp. 14 ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  15. Hadumod Bußmann : Lexicon of Linguistics (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 452). 2nd, completely revised edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-520-45202-2 , p. 712.
  16. ^ Ulrich Ammon : Language planning. In: Helmut Glück (Ed.): Metzler Lexikon Sprache , Stuttgart / Weimar: 1993, p. 583.
  17. Edwards, John. "Language, Prestige, and Stigma," in Contact Linguistics . Ed. Hans Goebel. New York: de Gruyter, 1996.
  18. ^ William A. Stewart: Sociolinguistic Typology of Multilingualism. In: Readings in the Sociology of Language . Edited by Joshua Fishman. Mouton Publishers, The Hague 1968.
  19. ^ Robert L. Cooper: Language Planning and Social Change . Cambridge University Press, New York 1989.
  20. ^ D. Alan Cruse: Lexicology / Lexicology. 2nd half band . Walter de Gruyter, 2005, ISBN 978-3-11-019424-1 , p. 1881 ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  21. ^ D. Alan Cruse: Lexicology / Lexicology. 2nd half band . Walter de Gruyter, 2005, ISBN 978-3-11-019424-1 , p. 1882 ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  22. Zeno: Kong Fu Zi (Confucius), Lunyu - Talks, Book XIII, 3rd State Government, 3rd Correction of Terms. Retrieved February 26, 2017 .
  23. Birgit Auernheimer: The language planning of the Carolingian educational reform as reflected in the lives of saints: comparative syntactical studies of the lives of saints in different versions, v. a. [i. eu a.] of the Vita Corbiniani, on the basis of a valence grammatical model . Walter de Gruyter, 2003, ISBN 978-3-598-73013-9 , p. 13, 107, 113 and a . ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  24. ^ Helma Pasch: Standardization of international African lingua franca . Springer-Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-663-05317-0 , pp. 15th f . ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).