Overt and Symbolic Linguistic Violence: Plantation Ideology and Language Reclamation in Northern Ireland

Alison MacKenzie*, Mel Engman, Orla McGurk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We discuss how the colonisation of the island of Ireland has marginalised and delegitimised Gaeilge, the Irish language, and the relationship of this colonial genealogy in place to local educational institutions and the practices therein. The hegemonic and homogenising processes of British colonialism continue to reverberate in modern discourses that frame the language as so politically charged that the ‘Acht na Gaelige’ (Irish Language Act) giving Gaeilge and English equal status contributed to a three-year (2017-2020) collapse of the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland. As with many minoritised languages worldwide, community members have turned to schools to reclaim language that can no longer be maintained in English-dominant homes, though these reclamation efforts are often segregated from educational policies and practices intended for the public. We explore these issues through a Bourdieusian analysis of symbolic power, linguistic capital and language reclamation to challenge the perceived ‘neutrality’ of the local university. We argue that by failing to recognise that Gaeilge could have parity with English, the university tacitly supports the hegemony of English.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Publication statusAccepted - 10 Jan 2022

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