Language Rights as Human Rights: A Sociolinguistic Study of the Universal Declaration of Language Rights 1996

Abbas Deygan Darweesh


This study addresses a sociolinguistic evaluation of the universal declaration of linguistic rights in 1996. It aims to analyze the basic aspects and motivations of the declaration with reference to the problems that are not dealt with in it. Thus, the current paper adopts the following procedure to achieve its aim: (1) reviewing literature on language rights theories, (2) conducting a qualitative sociolinguistic analysis for each part of the declaration, (3) and discussing the results of analysis with some evaluation of the declaration. This study is supposed to be of value to sociolinguists, critical applied linguists, discourse analysts and language planners. It has been concluded that the universal declaration of linguistic rights is based on the human language rights hypothesis with some reference to the minority hypothesis. The factors that have been addressed are power, dominance, inequality, culture, and identity. Moreover, Language is seen as constituting rather than reflecting identity. The declaration treats important issues in language rights in several domains such as education, communication, politics, socio-economics, technology and public speech.

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