Vladimir M. Alpatov
Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian Federation


Some language policy exists everywhere, still in can be conscious or spontaneous. It is realized through the state measures and through system of education, business, mass media, personal contacts, etc. Some languages are supported, the use of other languages is limited. The language situation and the language policy in every multilingual state is a result of two contradictory needs: the need for identification and the need for communication. The first need consists in the wish of every person to use his (her) native language in all situations. The use of an alien language can be connected with the sense of ethnic, cultural and even political inferiority. The second need means the need for free intercourse with any person. The language policy is realized by some models. The most traditional model takes in account only the need for communication: there is an official language; it is spread by the state. The status of the other languages is not privileged. This policy was usual at the industrial stage of society; it exists until now (United States, Japan, etc.). The other model takes into account the need for identification: several languages have equal rights: Switzerland, Belgium, partly Canada. This model was chosen in Russia after the October revolution, however the central role of Russian was unavoidable. Nowadays in many countries, especially in Europe, the moderate variant of this model is used: the predominant language is used, but the languages of minorities are officially supported; there is an attempt to take into account both needs. One more model is spread in the former colonies: there are no common languages in the country except the language of the former colonizers: English, French, and so on.

Keywords: language policy, need for identification, need for communication, models of language policy, official language, languages of minorities

For citation: Alpatov V.M. On mother language. Sociolinguistic Studies, 2020, no. 3(3) [online], pp. 114-124. (In Russ.)

DOI: 10.37892/2713-2951-2020-3-3-114-124