By Kathryn A. Woolard

Singular and Plural develops a framework for examining ideologies of linguistic authority and illuminates the institutional and interpersonal politics of language in Catalonia. Drawing on ethnographic study throughout thirty years of political autonomy, Kathryn Woolard indicates new relationships of Catalan language, identification, and politics within the new millennium.

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Singular and plural : ideologies of linguistic authority in 21st century Catalonia

Singular and Plural develops a framework for studying ideologies of linguistic authority and illuminates the institutional and interpersonal politics of language in Catalonia. Drawing on ethnographic study throughout thirty years of political autonomy, Kathryn Woolard indicates new relationships of Catalan language, id, and politics within the new millennium.

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That framework posits that two contrasting yet interdependent ideologies of language have typically underpinned linguistic authority in the modern western world: an ideology of authenticity, which holds that a language variety is rooted in and directly expresses the essential nature of a community or a speaker, and an ideology of anonymity, which holds that a given language is a neutral vehicle of communication, belonging to no one in particular and thus equally available to all. I will further propose that, despite their apparent opposition, anonymity and authenticity share a common taproot in an ideology of sociolinguistic naturalism, the assumption that a linguistic form exists independent of willful human intervention and that it naturally and directly corresponds to a social state of affairs.

Each of these chapters examines in some detail the construction of language choice and linguistic authority in relation to a specific public figure (Chapter 4, President Montilla) or event (Chapter 5, a municipal festival Introduction • 17 in Barcelona; Chapter 6, the promotion of Catalan culture at the Frankfurt Book Fair). Part III (Chapters 7–​8) turns to the level of the individual and of interpersonal experience. It is based on my longitudinal ethnographic study of two generations of students in one school and their linguistic practices, attitudes, and discourses.

Functional” in this sense means the referential function. Ideologies of Linguistic Authority • 29 Hungarian was a language that would be “everyone’s” because it purported to be “no one’s-​in-​particular,” Gal writes (Gal 2001, 43). In the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s well-​known critique of the ideological project of universality that undergirds the hegemony of French, the popular understanding of linguistic authority as what I am calling anonymous is called “misrecognition” (méconnaissance) (Bourdieu 1982, 1991).

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