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Socio-economic aspects of language policies: an Australian perspective

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Australian language policy implementations have received a great deal of public exposure since the launching of the National Policy on Languages in 1987. The paper defines the concepts of language and policy and reports on measures by Australian governments to implement the recommendation of the National Policy on Languages and the reaction by business and industry to some of the assumptions underlying these implementations. A brief historical overview is given of Australia's policies of monolingualism and assimilation and the wide-ranging changes which have been attempted by different Australian governments to highlight the multicultural and multilingual nature of Australia. The paper concludes that despite the growing involvement of Australia in exports to Asian markets - in particular East Asian markets - the implementations of the language policies have not yet produced the substantial number of competent speakers in languages other than English which Australia needs to unlock the decorum of business practices in Asia and Europe. The paper attempts to give the underlying reasons for Australia's persistent monolingualism.
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Keywords: Economics; Language; Multi-Cultural Society

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 1998

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