Constructing Lusobourgish Ethnicities: Implications for Language-in-Education Policy

Jean-Jacques Weber

University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg

WS155: Renegotiating language policies and practices: multilingual Luxembourg in late modernity

This paper takes a language ideological approach (e.g. Kroskrity 2004; Irvine and Gal 2000) to describing the ongoing processes of the construction and negotiation of emergent romano- or luso-bourgish ethnicities within Luxembourgish society. In the first part of the paper, I discuss the main theoretical assumptions of the language ideological approach and provide an overview of the language situation in Luxembourg. The next part presents the results of an ethnographic study of language use, language ideologies and identity construction among transnational adolescents attending a youth centre in Luxembourg city. It is shown, among others, how the adolescents’ linguistic practices involve a slight shift in the traditional Luxembourgish trilingualism from Luxembourgish, French and German towards Luxembourgish, French and Portuguese (or Spanish or Italian) and, furthermore, how they prise apart the narrow one nation – one language link in their lived reality while nominally still adhering to it. The concluding discussion considers the implications of these emergent ‘structures of feeling’ (Williams 1977) for Luxembourgish language-in-education policy and, more particularly, addresses the question of what structural changes to the school-system would be needed to meet the language needs of the increasing number of transnational students.


Irvine, J. and Gal, S. (2000) Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. In P. Kroskrity (ed.) Regimes of Language: Ideologies, Polities and Identities (pp. 35-84). Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.

Kroskrity, P.V. (2004) Language ideologies. In A. Duranti (ed.) A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology (pp. 496-517). Oxford: Blackwell.

Williams, R. (1977) Marxism and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Session: Workshop (part 2)
Renegotiating language policies and practices: multilingual Luxembourg in late modernity
Friday, April 4, 2008, 13:45-15:15
room: 08