|Szeged: JGYF Kiadó, 98 p. 2000. ISBN: 963 9167 45 2|
|A könyv előszava|
No matter how undesirable, linguistic intolerance is a widespread phenomenon in Europe. This is actually a surface form of linguicism, i.e. the idea that some languages/dialects are better than other languages/dialects, consequently their speakers can think more logically, and clearly, so they should have better jobs and other advantages. In societies where this idea is built deeply in everyday thinking, speakers of the "worse" languages/dialects are destined to live in the periphery of society.
With the aim of proposing a change from linguistic stigmatization to tolerance, some linguists at different institutions of four European countries started a project to describe the characteristics of linguistic stigmatization in their countries: Greece, Hungary, Norway, and Sweden. The members of the group were Gulbrand Alhaug, University of Tromsø; Lars-Gunnar Andersson, University of Göteborg; Ernst Hakon Jahr, University of Kristiansand; Miklós Kontra, Linguistics Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and University of Szeged; Gunnel Melchers, University of Stockholm; Helge Omdal, University of Kristiansand; Csaba Pléh, University of Szeged; Klára Sándor, University of Szeged; and Maria Sifianou, University of Athens. The group benefited a great deal from the help of our three advisors: Karol Janicki, University of Bergen; Eleni Skourtou, Aegean University, Rhodos; and Peter Trudgill, University of Fribourg. The project was granted by the Comenius-2 program of Socrates (grant number 57138-CP-1-98-1-HU-COMENIUS-C2), and its main purpose was promoting tolerance and mutual understanding between people of different linguistic background, especially in cases where linguistic diversity interacts with differences in socio-economic and/or geographical backgrounds both in national and intercultural dimensions.
For this reason, in the project we studied comparatively the characteristics of linguistic attitudes toward non-standard dialects in the four countries. This volume is the product of the first year of the project. It contains six studies about the institutions and characteristics of language cultivation in Greece, Hungary, Norway, and Sweden. The authors of this volume hope that these studies will help to introduce innovations in the curricula of pre-service and in-service teacher training (in mother tongue education), so that it can become a means of education for tolerance towards groups of people with different languages and cultures.
The comparative description of both the (quasi) universal characteristics and the culture-specific background of linguistic intolerance are cardinal from the point of view of intercultural education. The process how negative attitudes are developed and maintained in a society towards non-standard dialects is actually very similar to how negative attitudes towards a foreign language develop. In the first case, since standard varieties–supported by education–in most countries of modern Europe have extreme prestige, intended or not, schooling plays a leading role in developing negative attitudes towards non-standard dialects of the mother tongue. After the pupils have learned the mechanisms and the underlying idea of linguistic stigmatization, it is very hard to stop the extension of this intolerant linguistic behavior to other languages, meaning that it will be more "natural" for the pupils that there are "valuable languages" and "useless" languages, if they were taught that there are "valuable varieties" and "useless varieties" of their mother tongue.
In modern Europe, ideas like this would be, of course, abhorred, because they create unequal chances within a nation. In addition, from an international or European viewpoint, such ideas contribute to the glorification of "useful", "great" or "important" languages and cultures, and to the depreciation of languages and cultures "not worth maintaining". Such an idea is unwelcome in a rapidly integrating Europe and is in opposition to the appreciation and maintenance of linguistic and cultural diversity.
For the readers of this volume–students who will be teachers of Greek, Hungarian, Norwegian, and Swedish in Greece, Hungary, Norway, and Sweden respectively–this consideration might be of major importance. The national languages of these countries do not belong to the "imperial languages." There are relatively few speakers of Greek, Hungarian, Norwegian, and Swedish, therefore they need to learn and use the major international languages to an increasing degree, and for this reason the "big" languages may be perceived as more important by speakers of the "small" languages. Another significant factor is the native speakers' negative attitudes to nonstandard varieties of their languages (Norway is an important exception in this respect). These two factors may strengthen each other and thus linguicism does not only breed intolerance of other (foreign) languages and cultures but also of vernacular varieties, which may lead to the loss of local, nonstandard variaties. Norway, in contrast, provides a prominent example of developing and spreading linguistic tolerance.
In our view, it is the linguist's responsibility to pinpoint the hidden linguicism behind prescriptivist ideas, since in linguistically normative countries prescriptivist behavior (which breeds linguicist ideology) is tied to universal human and national values which can mask the dangers and negative effects of linguicism. Consequently, in many cases it is not obvious that promoting the standard variety of the mother tongue can lead to non desired results. The description of the forms of stigmatization in different countries can reveal the process of how a linguicist approach can survive for a long time shielded by different elements of culture (e.g. patriotism, literature, independence of the country, etc.) which, of course can mean real values, but as they historically became connected to language, linguicist ideas use them as arguments, creating unequal positions at school for the pupils with different social backgrounds. It appears to us that the first step to take to eradicate linguicism is to change the general European attitude which stigmatizes speakers of nonstandard language varieties, and puts them at a disadvantaged position. Thus the immediate benefit of such a change in linguistic attitudes would be that one of the factors which cause now unequal chances for pupils with different economic and socio-cultural backgrounds, could be eliminated.