3-4/03/20-Global language justice inside the doughnut hole

Suzanne Romaine Emeritus Oxford University (Hawaii Univ.)

The speaker proposes a doughnut as a model for thinking about the relationship between language and inequality in a linguistically diverse world and for explaining why language is the missing link in the global debate on sustainability, equity and poverty. By suggesting how human well-being can exist only within limits that are both social and ecological, the doughnut highlights the importance of addressing environmental sustainability and linguistic justice together. Policies that discriminate against the languages of the marginalized poor severely compromise the power of global development agendas like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to improve their lives. The cross-cutting effects of linguistic diversity on all aspects of human welfare mean that global development agendas cannot reach the ‘bottom billion’ until they speak to them in their own languages. Changing the normative perspective to make room for global language justice inside the doughnut requires teasing out and understanding numerous complex linkages between language, poverty, education, health, gender, and the environment that have been rendered invisible by prevailing models and discourses of development. Some specific pathways and policies for sustaining linguistic diversity through explicit recognition of language as both a right and means of inclusive sustainable development will also be identified.

Suzanne Romaine is an  American linguist known for work on  and  From 1984 to 2014 she was Merton Professor of English language at the University of Oxford. Her research has focused primarily on  historical linguistics and sociolinguistics, especially problems of societal multilingualism, linguistic diversity, language change, language acquisition, and language contact. Other areas of interest include corpus linguistics, language and gender, literacy, and bilingual/immersion education. 

Mikaela Cordisco

ILAND Centro Interuniversitario