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Language, Technology, and the Decentralization of the State: Comparative Analysis of Turkey, Iran, and Iraq
Unformatted Document Text:  5 complications of inter-language communication and increased transaction costs (as with contracts) and translations of all government documents is not desirable to most states or to tax payers within those states. This phenomenon can be seen not only in multi-language states like South Africa (which has twelve official languages), but also in bilingual states like Canada, which spends on average 21 billion (U.S. dollars) each year on bilingual education and translation of government documents. However, Canadian policy encourages universal bilingualism in school and in government and has invested significantly in bilingual resources throughout the country (Scott 2005). 9 In other states, like Switzerland, the state is effectively quadirlingual (German, French, Italian, and Roma). In practice, Switzerland's strategy does not impoverish the state and allows each canton to legislate its own language (Barker et al 2001). 10 Switzerland is often used as an example of an ideal multilingual state setup because having different languages, far from creating conflict, actually inspires a sense of national unity based on the particular combination of languages. 11 Significance of the Issue to the Global Community and the United States The issue of language policy has gained significant attention since the early 1990s. The increase in attention has occurred in part because of the rapid spread of English and the subsequent reaction to that phenomenon. 12 In part, this is result of the increased interconnectedness of world economies and networks of information. Language is fundamentally important to many people who feel that their language is in danger of being dominated or even extinguished by more popular languages. The European Union is actively working to support minority language rights 9 Not all states encourage universal bilingual education. Some states have a system whereby minority language groups attend schools with lessons taught in their language and the majority language while children who primarily speak the majority language attend classes exclusively in that language (until 1997 this was standard in California). Switzerland actually uses a federal system where the other official languages are taught to children later (starting in either fourth or seventh grade), drastically reducing the cost of language education. (Grin 2003) 10 Switzerland appears to be one of the few countries in the world to implement these types of policies. Also, each canton is effectively monolingual, which may have economic and social implications for minority language groups. (Pool 1991) 11 This was true even at the time of the French Revolution when, for a time the French section of Switzerland was incorporated into France. The Swiss French resisted and were eventually allowed to return to their former status as Swiss (Spolsky 2004). This example is important because it indicates that it is not the French language per se that inspires centrist tendencies, but an ideology within France itself. 12 In France there has been extensive state backlash against English in business and academia. This is problematic because English is used as the universal language of commerce and technology. In practice, even within France the general population tends to ignore many of the state attempts to curb the use of English in business and technology (Wright 2004).

Authors: Gannon-Kurowski, Solveig.
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5
complications of inter-language communication and increased transaction costs (as with
contracts) and translations of all government documents is not desirable to most states or to tax
payers within those states. This phenomenon can be seen not only in multi-language states like
South Africa (which has twelve official languages), but also in bilingual states like Canada,
which spends on average 21 billion (U.S. dollars) each year on bilingual education and
translation of government documents. However, Canadian policy encourages universal
bilingualism in school and in government and has invested significantly in bilingual resources
throughout the country (Scott 2005).
9
In other states, like Switzerland, the state is effectively
quadirlingual (German, French, Italian, and Roma). In practice, Switzerland's strategy does not
impoverish the state and allows each canton to legislate its own language (Barker et al 2001).
10
Switzerland is often used as an example of an ideal multilingual state setup because having
different languages, far from creating conflict, actually inspires a sense of national unity based
on the particular combination of languages.
11
Significance of the Issue to the Global Community and the United States
The issue of language policy has gained significant attention since the early 1990s. The increase
in attention has occurred in part because of the rapid spread of English and the subsequent
reaction to that phenomenon.
12
In part, this is result of the increased interconnectedness of world
economies and networks of information. Language is fundamentally important to many people
who feel that their language is in danger of being dominated or even extinguished by more
popular languages. The European Union is actively working to support minority language rights
9
Not all states encourage universal bilingual education. Some states have a system whereby minority language groups
attend schools with lessons taught in their language and the majority language while children who primarily speak
the majority language attend classes exclusively in that language (until 1997 this was standard in California).
Switzerland actually uses a federal system where the other official languages are taught to children later (starting in
either fourth or seventh grade), drastically reducing the cost of language education. (Grin 2003)
10
Switzerland appears to be one of the few countries in the world to implement these types of policies. Also, each
canton is effectively monolingual, which may have economic and social implications for minority language groups.
(Pool 1991)
11
This was true even at the time of the French Revolution when, for a time the French section of Switzerland was
incorporated into France. The Swiss French resisted and were eventually allowed to return to their former status as
Swiss (Spolsky 2004). This example is important because it indicates that it is not the French language per se that
inspires centrist tendencies, but an ideology within France itself.
12
In France there has been extensive state backlash against English in business and academia. This is problematic
because English is used as the universal language of commerce and technology. In practice, even within France the
general population tends to ignore many of the state attempts to curb the use of English in business and technology
(Wright 2004).


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