Language practices, language ideologies and planning in the cross-border area of Nova Gorica (Slovenia) and Gorizia (Italy) - from case study to models of analysis and planning in European borderlands
Franceskin Vodopivec, Nika
Novak Lukanovic, Sonja
The thesis discusses language policy in a specific setting, i.e. the cross-border community. It explores the specific characteristics of this sociolinguistic domain by analysing the empirical data of two case studies carried out in the bordering towns of Nova Gorica (Slovenia) and Gorizia (Italy) in the years 2003 and 2005 by the Institute for Ethnic Studies of Ljubljana (Slovenia) and I.S.I.G.-Istituto di Sociologia Internazionale di Gorizia (Italy). The sample of the case studies was composed by 12-14 years old pupils and their parents from three elementary schools, i.e. one Slovene school from Nova Gorica, and one Italian and one Slovene school from Gorizia (the first one mostly attended by the pupils of the Italian majority, the second one mostly attended by the Slovene minority pupils). The cross-border community of Nova Gorica and Gorizia was chosen for its particular features: Despite being marked with several troubled events in the recent history, especially during the period of Fascism, the two bordering towns are deepening their collaboration already from the 1960s onwards, and the cross-border linkages are being further strengthened particularly from the 1990s, along with the process of joining of Slovenia to the European Union. The focus of the analysis is on language policy regarding the neighbouring languages in relation to the process of collaboration between the two town communities. The thesis contains three main parts. In the first part the author presents the theoretical framework, characterised by a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach, spacing e.g. from language policy studies, social psychology to border studies. Special attention is given to the analysis of language related issues in the three recent socio-historical processes, i.e. the processes of nation state formation, globalisation and European integration. In the second part the chosen cross-border area is first analysed from the socio-historical perspective. It is shown how language occupied a central role in defining the ethnic identities of the ethno-linguistic groups in the area; how despite the processes of European integration the issue of language planning in the area was never addressed; and how the process of globalisation brought to the fore the primacy of English as the world lingua franca in language teaching (and language practices to a certain extent) especially among the young generations. For the present situation a separate analysis of the ethnolinguistic vitality of the two bordering communities is made. Language policy is further analysed with the use of the empirical data from the two case studies and the analysis of newspaper articles of two chosen daily newspapers in a seven-year period regarding language planning issues in the context of cross-border collaboration. The approach of separate analysis of the three components of language policy is applied, i.e. analysis of language practices (i.e. the conventional patterns of language use), language ideologies (i.e. sets of beliefs about appropriate language practices), and language planning (deliberate actions to influence language practices and ideologies). At the end of the second part the hypotheses are verified. The main findings are that the language of the neighbouring community is still preserving a higher communication potential than English, although a considerable generational difference is observed in this sense: children tend to use English instead of neighbouring language in cross-border contacts more frequently than their parents do. Slovene as a neighbouring language for the Italian community in Gorizia is known and used both in their own community and in the cross-border contacts by a very little part of this group, although the attitudes towards Slovene seem to have changed in the recent years, probably due to the changed status of Slovenia after its independence and joining to the EU. The Italians seem to be more inclined to accept Slovene as optional subject in the curricula of their schools and the finding is that in this respect the existent language planning is not congruent with the language ideologies. There are also indications that some Italian parents, who consider linguistic and cultural diversity as a value, tend to consider the possibility of enrolling their children in the schools of the Slovene minority in Gorizia more often. The finding of the author is that, similarly as in the precedent historical periods, today too, the Slovene minority is functioning as an important element of integration, offering in this specific moment, characterized by the EU’s efforts to overcome any kind of borders and foster integration, a “natural” multilingual and multicultural context able to promote interculturality in a sense of cooperation, based on mutual recognition, understanding, awareness, and knowledge about the other’s culture and language. On the other hand it was found that the local policy makers are constantly avoiding the issue of eventual language planning in the area, oriented to foster reciprocal knowledge of the bordering languages, and it is the author’s opinion that this is due to the political factors: language as a strong identity marker is still manipulated to a certain extent, on the Italian side of the cross-border area, for political purposes. The attitudes toward the Slovene minority and its language are then transferred also to Slovene as a language of the neighbouring state. In the third part of the thesis the cross-border area is approached as a specific sociolinguistic domain. It appears that although forming one community of communication, due to high level of mutual connections, it is usually composed of more than one symbolic space where language can function as an indicator of diversity. Symbolic components refer to extra-linguistic contents of the society and the author points to the fact that in this context language is regularly used not as a mere communication tool, but also as a distinctive element of the “otherness”, an intentional act of demonstration of symbolic appurtenance. The final chapter also offers some elements that are considered useful for establishing a model of sociolinguistic research and language planning in cross-border areas in the European context. Moreover, these areas are seen as potential privileged settings where to more easily acquire the EU’s goals of multilingualism, preserving in this way language diversity as a precious heritage.