National languages as flags of allegiance, or the linguistics that failed us
A close look at emergent linguistic chauvinism in Brazil
This paper focuses on what appears to be the emergence of linguistic chauvinism in Brazil. Large-scale influx currently under way of foreign words (mostly from English) into the country’s national language, Portuguese, is being eyed with suspicion and distrust by large segments of the population. The current crisis was kick-started by a federal deputy in the House of Representatives who presented a controversial bill aimed at curbing the use of foreignisms by the use of law. Critics have however been quick to point out that the bill is a covert attempt to advance a political agenda. The paper examines the role of linguists in the unfolding national debate. After noting that they have by and large been set aside and have failed to bring the weight of their expert opinion to bear on the whole issue, I advance the claim that it is they themselves who are largely to blame. I conclude by making a plea that it is high time we as linguists did some soul-searching and asked ourselves whether, in our single-minded effort to theorise about language in total disregard for what the lay people think and believe about it, we have not isolated ourselves from them and rendered ourselves largely inconsequential. I suggest that Critical Linguistics may turn out to be one way of regaining some of the lost ground.
Cited by other publications
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