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Review of Moriarty (2015) Globalizing Language Policy and Planning: an Irish language perspective

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Máiréad Moriarty. (2015) Globalizing Language Policy and Planning:
An Irish Language Perspective. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN
978-1-137-00560-1, £109.99. hardcover
Reviewed by Kristof Savski (Prince of Songkla University)
e history of language policy as a eld of academic activity has been dened by
a consistent broadening of scope, both when considering the ways in which the
object under investigation has been dened and in terms of the methodological
perspectives used to approach it. is is perhaps unsurprising given how broadly
one might reasonably describe the nature of language policy, which while oen
starting as a clearly dened top-down attempt at intervening in the language prac-
tices of a given community may in fact have spread far beyond the borders of what
has traditionally be dened as ‘policy’. As a result, much contemporary language
policy research has tended to relativize the value of state-centric cyclical models of
policy and has instead embraced a broad understanding of this phenomenon, one
which acknowledges that both top-down and bottom-up forces must be examined
(McCarty, 2010).
In this monograph, which represents a synthesis of the author’s research at
both the doctoral and postdoctoral levels, Moriarty adopts such a broad approach.
Her examination of the language policy processes surrounding the Irish language
(Gaeilge) in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland thus zooms in on
a number of dierent contexts, or scales (Hult, 2010). e author rst examines
the position of Irish in mass media, with the main focus being its use on TG4, a
TV channel established specically to oer programming in that language. e
chapter reviews the content on oer by TG4, foreground in particular its inclusiv-
ity to dierent types of audiences (e.g. both children and adults, and both L1 and
L2 users of Irish). A highlight is its examination of how TG4 fosters audience
engagement on Twitter, a potentially crucial domain for contemporary language
revitalization eorts. Moriarty’s next two chapters continue to focus on popular
culture by examining two other novel domains associated with language revitaliza-
tion, comedy and hip-hop. e rst of these focusses on Irish-American comedian
Des Bishop, whose stand-up routine, while traditionally focussed on social issues,
has over the last decade also addressed the role of the Irish language. e chapter
examines Bishop’s live shows and TV programmes during this time and focusses
in particular on his subversion of the traditional discourse surrounding Irish,
where the diculty of learning the language is oen stressed. A further chapter
Journal of Language and Politics (proofs), 1–3.  ./jlp..sav
 – / - – © John Benjamins Publishing Company
Kristof Savski
examines the use of Irish in hip-hop, once again highlighting the emergence of
new domains in language revitalization. In her nal empirical chapter in the book,
Moriarty examines how Irish language resources have been deployed as a means of
commodication in the eld of tourism in dierent areas across Ireland.
ese four empirical chapters represent the core of the book and are presented
in a clear and detailed manner, with abundant framing provided to compensate
for the dierences between the contexts they describe. Aside from the focusses
on Irish and on language policy, the thread which connects these diverse analyses
into a coherent volume is globalization, to which Moriarty returns continuously.
is concept is particularly key to understanding the signicance of how Irish has
been incorporated in stand-up comedy, hip-hop and tourism, as these are o cited
examples of globalized culture. e author highlights how the use of Irish in these
domains, which are deeply embedded in the complex processes of information
exchange and human mobility that characterise globalization (Appadurai, 1990),
allows speakers of the language to become agents in those processes. Moriarty
provides convincing arguments that while globalization can be seen to present a
threat to local languages and cultures, it may also provide new kinds of opportuni-
ties for revitalization. is is of particular value in contexts such as Ireland, where
traditional ‘modernist’ instruments of revitalization (such as the educational sys-
tem) can be seen to have failed to dramatically alter the balance of sociolinguistic
Moriarty’s book also contributes to current scholarly debates in language
policy. In her recent review of two newly published books, King (2019) suggests
that the eld stands at a crossroads between a descriptive, ethnographic orienta-
tion seeking to examine the roles specic actors play in policy processes, and a
normative view which seeks to evaluate policies against theoretically constructed
philosophical models. It is well worth pointing out, however, that the choice
between a descriptive-empirical and normative-theoretical perspective is not the
only one facing language policy scholars. Another similarly key decision concerns
how the role of the state should be addressed in language policy research, since it
remains the cornerstone of some analyses while being largely eschewed by others.
Moriarty’s work is of the latter type, and indeed her book illustrates the extent
to which the borders of language policy as a eld of research may be stretched
beyond the traditional connes of ‘the state. Her work also avoids a potential
weakness of this approach, which is that it can lead to an excessive broadening
of ‘policy’, which when being detached from ‘the state may also implicitly cease
to be conceptualized as an instrument associated with organizational authority.
As Moriarty demonstrates, however, this can be avoided by treating actors like
stand-up comedians as participants in a broader discourse which also includes
more traditional language policies. A lack of explicit theorising on the dialogical
Review of Moriarty (2015)
relationship between state and non-state voices in policy discourse is perhaps
the only weakness one may point out in Moriarty’s work, though it should also
be remarked that this is an area deserving of more conceptual eort in general
in language policy.
Appadurai, Arjun. 1990. “Disjuncture and dierence in the global cultural economy.” In Global
culture: Nationalism, Globalization and Modernity, ed. by M. Featherstone (pp. 295–310).
London: Sage.
Hult, Francis M. 2010. Analysis of language policy discourses across the scales of space and
time.International Journal of the Sociology of Language (202): 7–24.
King, Kendall A. 2019. Language policy at a crossroads? Review of the books Standardizing
Minority Languages: Competing Ideologies of Authority and Authenticity in the Global
Periphery, eds. P. Lane, J. Costa, & H. De Korne, and Normative Language Policy: Ethics,
Politics, Principles, by L. Oakes & Y. Peled. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 23 (1), 54–64.
McCarty, Teresa L. (Ed.) 2010. Ethnography and language policy. London: Routledge.
Reviewer’s address
Kristof Savski
Department of Languages and Linguistics, Faculty of Liberal Arts
Prince of Songkla University
15 Karnjanavanich Rd
Hat Yai, Songkla, 90110
Publication history
Date received: 13 February 2019
Date accepted: 14 February 2019
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
This chapter explores the history, development, and role of ethnographic research in understanding de facto and de jure language policies. With its roots in anthropology, ethnography is characterized by the contextualization of cultural and linguistic phenomena and close attention to participants’ point of view. This chapter begins by framing ethnographic research in terms of its distinct ontological, epistemological, and methodological assumptions. The chapter then locates ethnographic approaches to language policy in the complementary fields of educational and linguistic anthropology and socio-educational linguistics. This is followed by an examination of key issues and findings emanating from these disciplinary fields and an exploration of core areas of new research, including critical ethnographic, sociocultural approaches to language education planning and policy, and ethnographic studies of educators as de facto language policymakers. Final sections address the implications of this work for pedagogy, policy, and praxis. Returning to Hymes’s (1980) call for an ethnographic science that is reflexive, critical, and democratizing, the authors argue for ethnographic research that engages and works to dismantle persistent linguistic inequalities in education.
The ecology of language has been put forward as a useful orientation to the holistic investigation of multilingual language policies because it draws attention to relationships among speakers, languages, policies, and social contexts at varying dimensions of social organization. As such, it is an orientation that stands to facilitate the integration of micro- and macro-sociolinguistic inquiry in language policy and planning (LPP); however, it is not a method. An ecological orientation requires the application of specific methods in order to achieve a holistic picture of an LPP situation. To this end, the present article explores how recent discourse analytic theories and methods that focus on ways in which discursive processes operate within and across space and time are especially well suited to the ecological objective of understanding relationships between language policies and the social actions of individuals.
Language policy at a crossroads? Review of the books Standardizing Minority Languages: Competing Ideologies of Authority and Authenticity in the Global Periphery, and Normative Language Policy: Ethics, Politics, Principles.”
  • King
Language policy at a crossroads? Review of the books Standardizing Minority Languages: Competing Ideologies of Authority and Authenticity in the Global Periphery
  • Kendall A King
King, Kendall A. 2019. Language policy at a crossroads? Review of the books Standardizing Minority Languages: Competing Ideologies of Authority and Authenticity in the Global Periphery, eds. P. Lane, J. Costa, & H. De Korne, and Normative Language Policy: Ethics, Politics, Principles, by L. Oakes & Y. Peled. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 23 (1), 54-64.