Nations, Language and Citizenship

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About the Book

This study evaluates the importance of language in achieving a sense of national solidarity, considering factors such as territory, religion, race, historical continuity, and memory. It investigates the historical experiences of countries and ethnic or regional minorities according to how their political leadership, intellectual elite, or independence movements answered the question, “Who are we?” The Americans, British, and Australians all speak English, just as the French, Haitians, and French-Canadians all speak French, sharing common historical origin, vocabulary and usage—but each nationality’s use of its language differs. So does language transform a citizenry into a community / or is a “national language” the product of idealogy?
This work presents 26 case studies and raises three questions: whether the people of independent countries consider language the most important factor in creating their sense of nationality; whether the people living in multi-ethnic states or as regional minorities are most loyal to the community with which they share a language or the community with which they share citizenship; and whether people in countries with civil strife find a common language enough to create a sense of political solidarity. The study also covers hybrid languages, language revivals, the difference between dialects and languages, government efforts to promote or avoid bilingualism, the manipulation of spelling and alphabet reform. Illustrations include postage stamps, banknotes, flags, and posters illustrating language controversies.
Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Norman Berdichevsky is a professional translator, writer and lecturer for several major cruise lines. Formerly a lecturer of Judaic studies at the University of Central Florida, he is the author of several books and lives in England.

Bibliographic Details

Norman Berdichevsky
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 288
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1710-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-2700-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgment      iv
Preface and Dedication 1
Introduction 3

PART I: Countries with Competing Candidates for the National Language
1. Hebrew versus Yiddish: The Case of Israel 13
2. The Attempt to Revive Irish: A Nation Once Again      44
3. Norway’s Schizophrenia: New Norse (Nynorsk) versus Dano-Norwegian (Bokmaal/Riksmaal)      55
4. Maltese: “The Curse of the Country and Fit Only for the Kitchen”      66

PART II: Multiethnic Countries with Bilingualism and Multilingualism
5. Belgium: The Classic “Buffer State”      77
6. Switzerland      92
7. Spain: Five Official Languages, or Is It Only Four and Two-Thirds?      103
8. Canada      116
9. India      124
10. South Africa      129

PART III: The Celtic “Pygmy” Revivals of Welsh and Scots
11. Wales, Welsh and Plaid Cymru      139
12. Scotland, Scots and the Threatened Demise of Scottish Gaelic      146

PART IV: Dialects or Languages?
13. Italian Dialects      157
14. Scandinavian Languages: Unification Tried and Rejected      160

PART V: The Quarreling Cousins
15. Serbian and Croatian (Serbo-Croatian)      165
16. Czech and Slovak      171
17. Romanian and Moldavian      174

PART VI: Ethnic or Regional Minorities: Bilingual or Using the “Wrong Language”?
18. The Romanian-Speaking Hungarians      181
19. Alsace-Lorraine: German Speakers Who Identify with France      187
20. The German-Speaking Danish Minority in South Schleswig      191
21. The Swedish-Speaking Finlanders      199
22. Israel’s Hebrew-Speaking Arab Citizens      205

PART VII: Spanish versus Portuguese in Uruguay: The Case of Determined Government Planning to Avoid Bilingualism
23. Uruguay: The Origins of the Buffer State      215

PART VIII: The Struggle with the Chains of the Past (Greek, Arabic and Turkish)
24. The Greek Dilemma: Ancient (Attic) versus Demotike versus Katharevousa      225
25. Arabic: The Koran versus Modern Standard versus the Local Vernaculars      232
26. Turkish Identity Frees Itself from the Islamic/Arabic Yoke      241

Conclusion       245
Chapter Notes      259
Bibliography      267
Index      275

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Essential…highly recommended”—Choice
  • “Broad…useful”—Ethnic & Racial Studies.