Micro declared language policy or not? language-policy-like statements in the rules of procedure of the Rwandan Parliament

Joseph Gafaranga, Cyprien Niyomugaboo, Valentin Uwizeyimana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

An invitation to integrate macro and micro level analyses has been extended to researchers as this integration is felt to be the way forward for language policy research (Ricento, Ideology, politics and language policies: Focus on english, John Benjamins, Amsterdam, 2000). In turn, the notion of ‘micro’ in language policy has been specified as referring either to micro language policy or to micro implementation of macro policies (Baldauf and Richard, Current Issues in Language Planning, 7:147–170, 2006). Drawing on Baldauf’s ideas, this paper intends to contribute to Ricento’s call by means of a case study. The case study we will report is based in the sociolinguistic context of Rwanda. In Rwanda, a macro language policy has been stated in the country’s constitution. According to the Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda (Official Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda, 2003 (Special Issue)), Kinyarwanda is the national language and Kinyarwanda, French and English are the country’s official languages (Art. 5). On the other hand, an institution in this context, namely the Rwandan Parliament, has published, as part of its rules of procedure, a number of statements regarding language choice. Therefore, in the paper, we ask whether these statements can be described as a case of the micro implementation of the macro policy or whether they can be described as constituting a separate policy, a micro “declared policy” (Shohamy, Language policy: Hidden agendas and new approaches, Routledge, London, 2006). To answer this question, a close textual analysis of the relevant documents (Johnson, Language Policy, 8:139–159, 2009) is conducted, focusing on the relationship between the three official languages. The analysis reveals that, in the Constitution, Kinyarwanda is seen as the dominant official language while the other languages can be seen as auxiliary languages. In the statements regarding language choice at the Rwandan Parliament, on the other hand, the three languages are seen as equal. Based on this observation, it is suggested that the Parliament’s statements be seen as constituting a separate policy, a micro declared language policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-332
Number of pages20
JournalLanguage Policy
Volume12
Issue number4
Early online date3 Mar 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

Keywords

  • Language policy
  • Language planning
  • Declared language policy

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