International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, Vol 21, No 1 (2014)

Expanding the use of non-dominant Caribbean languages: Can the law help?

Celia Brown-Blake
Issued Date: 26 Jun 2014

Abstract


Language planners and advocates, at a conference in Jamaica in 2011, agreed on the terms of a Charter on Language Rights and Language Policy in the Creole-speaking Caribbean. This document contains a raft of principles and entitlements regarding the use of language in public official domains. The intention is to use the document to lobby Caribbean governments to adopt language laws in accordance with the principles set out in the Charter. This raises the question of utilising the law as a sociolinguistic change agent to induce the expansion of the use of non-dominant languages, particularly Creole languages, in public official domains. This article is concerned with the question of how effective the law is likely to be in achieving this expansion. Drawing on patterns arising from law on language in selected jurisdictions, the article concludes that the law promises only limited success in driving this change in the function of non-dominant languages in the Commonwealth Caribbean.

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DOI: 10.1558/ijsll.v21i1.51

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