Language Policies and Linguistic Culture in Galicia

Anik Nandi

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National language policy which is implemented from the top is perceived as official legislation designed to influence people’s linguistic lives. In the Castilian-dominated Galician linguistic landscape, this paper examines the impact of last thirty years’ top-down language policies on the “linguistic culture” (Schiffman 1996) of the Galicians and analyses the role of grassroots level actors or agents who play a significant role in interpreting and implementing language policy on the ground. Linguistic culture, as Schiffman (2006: 112) describes it, is the “sum totality of ideas, values, beliefs, attitudes, prejudices, myths, religious strictures, and all the other cultural ‘baggage’ that speakers bring to their dealings with language from their culture”. This will inevitably lead us to an examination of the essential macro level linguistic and non-linguistic variables such as socio-political, socio-economic, socio-cultural, sociolinguistic factors present in the Galician society influencing the ideological construct and revitalisation practices of the community. Concurrently, this article offers a brief overview of the sociolinguistic history of Galician, as a means of contextualising existing debates related to language policies since the outset of the Galician Autonomy. It starts with a discussion on the significance of the 1983 Linguistic Normalisation Act, the immediate effects it had on Galician and on its public visibility which will be further related to the various understandings of notions such as linguistic normalisation and societal bilingualism which have been an integral part of LPP discourse over the course of last three decades. To conclude, the chapter will also offer a critical account of the recent developments in grassroots level Galician language activism such as the creation of Galician medium pre-primary immersion schools through co-operative mobilisations and crowd-sourcing; these schools came about as a reaction to the contemporary state-imposed language policies from the present centre-right wing government (2009-present).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-45
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Language policy
  • Bilingualism
  • Galicia
  • Linguistic culture
  • Grassroots level LPP


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