by Richard Oliver Collin
Department of Politics and Geography
Coastal Carolina University
[Presented 26 October 2005 at the Vernacular 2005 Conference on Language and Society, held at the Universidad de las Américas, Puebla, Mexico and sponsored by the American Political Science Association and the Policy Studies Organization.]
This paper studies the relevance of scripts or writing systems to politics, drawing on recent work in sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and the sociology of language, and applying these insights to the study of political conflict.
After an attempt to establish a common vocabulary, the paper explores how divergent writing systems may exacerbate conflicts within a speech community (Hindustani and Serbo-Croatian are examples) and, conversely, how a common writing system can confer national unity upon a linguistic group that has actually fragmented into separate speech communities (Chinese and Arabic are cases in point).
After a glance at governmental interference with writing systems, the paper surveys several cases of deliberate script shift, examining the Korean and Turkish examples before reviewing the massive Soviet effort to configure writing systems within the USSR to achieve ideological objectives. With the collapse of the Soviet Empire, countries in Central Europe and Central Asia are now making politically significant choices about future writing systems.
The paper concludes with a note on the importance of writing system analysis to the understanding of ethnic and nationalist conflict.
Read the paper (Word, 373K)
Writing systems | Language and languages | Language learning | Pronunciation | Learning vocabulary | Language acquisition | Motivation and reasons to learn languages | Arabic | Basque | Celtic languages | Chinese | English | Esperanto | French | German | Greek | Hebrew | Indonesian | Italian | Japanese | Korean | Latin | Portuguese | Russian | Sign Languages | Spanish | Swedish | Other languages | Minority and endangered languages | Constructed languages (conlangs) | Reviews of language courses and books | Language learning apps | Teaching languages | Languages and careers | Being and becoming bilingual | Language and culture | Language development and disorders | Translation and interpreting | Multilingual websites, databases and coding | History | Travel | Food | Other topics | Spoof articles | How to submit an article
Why not share this page:
If you need to type in many different languages, the Q International Keyboard can help. It enables you to type almost any language that uses the Latin, Cyrillic or Greek alphabets, and is free.
Note: all links on this site to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.fr are affiliate links. This means I earn a commission if you click on any of them and buy something. So by clicking on these links you can help to support this site.