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Parity in the plural: Language and complex equality

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The politics of language raises a number of concerns pertaining to the question of equality, particularly in the context of language policy formulation, analysis and evaluation. At the same time, however, both ‘equality’ and ‘language’ are relatively vague notions, which may be interpreted in different ways, and which therefore yield very different understandings when combined together in different circumstances and in service of different purposes. This conceptual vagueness, I argue, requires normative reflections that are public policy-oriented to engage in a more nuanced conceptual analysis in the process of formulating moral arguments on the basis of moral intuitions. I therefore map a number of possible conceptions of both ‘equality’ and ‘language’, and discuss in detail the notion of ‘complex linguistic equality’ as one example of their possible permutation. I conclude by arguing for the importance of more engaged work between political theory and sociolinguistics for the sake of advancing both theory-building and practical application.

Keywords: complex equality; equality; linguistic justice; normative language policy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2015

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