Language planning and identity in Cyprus: The case of English

Karoulla-Vrikki, Dimitra

European University Cyprus


Language planning and identity in Cyprus: The case of English

The paper presents language-planning strategies (e.g. discussion of bills, enactments of laws, Council of Ministers’ decisions and educational policies) that have aimed at either promoting or rejecting English in Cyprus. The investigation focuses on the Greek-Cypriots to show that language planning has been associated with identity preferences such as Cyprocentrism and Hellenocentrism (which reflect civic- nationalist concepts and ethnonationalist concepts respectively), as well as new identity orientations, such as the European Union identity. The study first explores the role of English during the British colonial rule on the island (1878-1959) and the concerns of the Cypriots about the maintenance of their ethnic language and identity. It then examines the enhanced status and functions of English in the law courts and civil service after the proclamation of Cyprus as an independent state in 1960. The paper continues with a discussion of the language-planning processes of the late 1980s and mid-1990s that aimed at decreasing the power of English and gradually reversing its dominant role in favour of Greek. The language education policy/planning and its effects on English after 1960 is also discussed. The paper finally examines English as a second language (or first foreign language) on the island from the mid-1990s to the accession of Cyprus to the European Union in 2004 and thereafter.

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Session: Paper session
Planning/Policy 1 (Identity)
Thursday, April 3, 2008, 10:30-12:00
room: 14