Language planning or language management: in the case of multi-language users in Japan

Sau Kuen Fan, Hidehiro Muraoka

Kanda University of International Studies, Japan, Chiba University, Japan

WS121: Language Policy, Planning and Management: From Micro to Macro and Vice Versa

The language management theory was introduced in the early 80s as a tool for the study of language problems particularly in intercultural contact situations. According to Neustupný (1995), the approach towards language problems within the language management framework is different from that in the traditional language planning paradigm in several ways. For instance, the language management framework is characterized by its emphasis on language problems confronted by individual user for interaction at the discourse level. With this shift from macro to micro as the starting point for the treatment of language problems, two important issues bacome significant. One is that when focusing on language in use, language problems cannot be treated without considering also sociolinguistic and sociocultural problems. Another one directs to the fact that language problems especially in contact discourse are not necessary automatic. As a result “solving the problem” may not be the mere goal of the language user in order to maintain the interaction. It is suggested in the new framework that the study of the processes for “managing the problem” is as crucial when coping with language problems.

As far as the Japanese society is concerned, the wave of globalization has brought attention to the significance of foreign language teaching and learning, as well as the widespread of community languages due to the increasing number of foreign residents in recent years. It is argued in this paper that language planning and subsequent polices taken in response towards globalization in this sense (e.g. introduction of English education in primary schools, use of community languages in public services) is fundamentally derived from the consciousness between native speakers of Japanese and other language varieties. This trend of globalization produces not only a large number of non-native speakers (e.g. English and Japanese learners), but also more and more multi-language users whose native language is neither Japanese nor English. On the basis of a survey of a group of foreign residents who regularly use more than two languages for daily communication in Japan, we will report in this paper on 1) how different types of contact situations are generated and maintained (cf. Fan 1994, 2006); and 2) how different types of language problems are treated in such contact situations (cf. Muraoka 2006). It is hoped that through the discussion of the informants’ actual use of various languages in contact situations, we can reach a joining point between the frameworks of language planning and language management.

Fan, S. K. (1994) Contact situations and language management. Multilingua, 13, 3, 237-252.

Fan, S. K. (2006) Sesshoku bamen no taiporojii to sesshoku bamen kenkyu no kadai (A typology of contact situations and issues for the study of contact situations). In: Nihongo Kyoiku no Atarata na Bunmyaku. ALC. 120-141.

Muraoka, H. (2006) Sesshoku bamen ni okeru mondai no ruikei (A typology of problems in contact situations). In: Tabunka kyosei shakai ni okeru gengo kanri. Chiba University. 103-115.

Neustupný, J. V. (1995): Nihongo kyoiku to gengo kanri (TJFL and language management). In: Handai Nihongo Kenkyu. 7, 67-82.

Session: Workshop (part 2)
Language Policy, Planning and Management: From Micro to Macro and Vice Versa
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 11:00-12:30
room: 04