LING/SLAV 75: Languages and Nationalism, Fall 2002

Welcome to the course! Please follow the links to areas of interest to you. If you experience any difficulties with this website or the sites that are linked to it, please email me! (see Contact Information)
Please familiarize yourself with the Blackboard version of this website ( and feel free to email me with comments or questions.

About the Course
Course Syllabus
Course Links
Contact Information and Office Hours

About the Course

This course is conceived as an introductory course; it will include discussions of contemporary cultural diversity topics relevant for American society. It fulfills the social sciences and the cultural diversity perspectives, as well as a requirement for the Social and Economic Justice minor.

In the course we will explore issues of languages, ethnic identity, and nationalism in contemporary societies, from the U.S. to Western and Eastern Europe, and beyond. We will familiarize ourselves with how linguists attempt to understand and explain language phenomena of the societal realm. We will also see some of those theories of language issues in the practice of politicians whose goals include the spreading of nationalist agendas. Nationalism is on the upswing; in some former Communist countries, nationalists have gained power. In Austria, the nationalist Freedom party joined the ruling coalition, causing deep concern throughout Europe, which in turn resulted in European Union sanctions on Austria. Meanwhile, in the last decade in the Balkans, we witnessed a fourth Balkan war in former Yugoslavia. A major driving force of the war was linguistic and ethnic nationalism.

Issues of languages and nationalism are not unfamiliar to our own society. Most recently, since September 11, 2001, many silent ethnic and religious tensions have been voiced, often in the language of nationalism. But even before last September, nationalists exploited ethnic and linguistic divisions to publicize and gain support for their own prejudices. In greater detail we will discuss the rise of Official English movements in the U.S. and controversial issues concerning the language of African-Americans.

Several videos will be shown during the course of the semester. Class time will be devoted to lectures and discussions of the readings and films. Additional topics or questions of interest that will not be raised in class due to time constraints can be addressed on Blackboard's discussion board for this class.

Welcome to LING/SLAV 75: Languages and Nationalism!

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  1. Raymond Tatalovich, Nativism Reborn
  2. - Prices: new $32.50, used from $13.60 (at as of August 8, 2002.
  3. Geneva Smitherman, Talkin' and Testifyin'
  4. - Prices: new $19.95, used from $7 (at as of August 8, 2002.

    Note: I am NOT discouraging buying your books from the campus bookstore. However, those who wish to deal with the hassle of searching for cheaper books can find the required books NEW OR USED at any of the following sites (in alphabetical order):, (only Smitherman), (teamed with Border's), (only new), Please note that these are not links to the websites, and I am not endorsing the sellers in any way. I do not guarantee the prices nor the conditions of the books. These are simply leads because I know how expensive books can be. I hope you find them helpful. In the same spirit, please share any other findings of cheaper books with me and the rest of your classmates. Also, please remember that the books are in limited quantities, as they are offered by individual sellers.

  5. Various excerpts available on-line and on reserve in the library
  6. Films, video, and audio clips will be watched in class, but may also be assigned for homework, if available on-line
  7. I would like for you to find applications of the concepts we will discuss in class in current news stories. For this reason, I would recomend that you sign up for an email news service, such as CBS news, ABC news, Yahoo news, the BBC, or others that cover world news. This way when something in the news can be applied to our subject matter, everyone can participate in the class or Blackboard discussions of the new developments.

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Grade Distribution:
10% Attendance and Class Participation
15% Journals
30% Midterm Exam
30% Final Exam
15% Group presentations

Attendance: Class participation is essential; hence, attendance at all classes is mandatory. I highly discourage unexcused absences. Please let me know in advance if you will be absent by emailing me ( or leaving a message on my answering machine (942-2843). If you have more than 4 unexcused absences, your attendance grade will have a negative effect on your final grade for the course. Postings on the Blackboard Discussion Board will also be accounted for in the attendance grade.

Journals: You will be asked to submit 1-2 page reaction papers to the films. Portions of some more "provocative" journal entries will be posted for the rest of the class on Blackboard to encourage an internet discussion. If anyone has a problem with portions of their papers being posted, please talk to me after class during the first week of classes. The reaction papers can be submitted through Blackboard, by email (as word attachments or, preferably, in the body of the message,) or by bringing a hard copy to class. In either case, the papers are due at the beginning of class. These journals are not formal papers and need not be completely polished. I am simply looking for thoughts and feelings that a certain film evoked for you.

Examinations: There will be one midterm examination and one final examination. I will provide study questions for each examination approximately a week prior to the exam. The exams will comprise of a selection of questions you have seen in advance. If anyone would prefer to write a paper instead of a final exam, please make this decision known to me prior to Monday, November 4, and make sure you consult with me on a topic.
Note: Graduate students will have to take the final exam as well as write a paper. 60% of their final grade will be equally distributed among the two exams and the paper.

Group Presentations: The group presentations will take place in the latter part of October. The class will be divided at random into 10 groups of approximately 4 students each. The topics will be chosen and assigned prior to fall break, and you will have only one class period to organize and discuss your presentations. Meeting outside of class at least once is strongly suggested. Your groups will be notated on Blackboard and you will have a discussion board specifically for each group. There you can organize and discuss your presentation, if you so wish. The in-class presentations will be 20 minutes each per group. In addition, the class period before the presentation, the group will assign an optional reading to the class in preparation for the presentation. I will be glad to help anyone who runs into difficulties finding materials for their presentation.
Note: Graduate students can choose whether or not to participate in the group presentations. However, in either case, they have to present their final paper or a portion of it (20 minutes) to the class to earn the "group presentation" grade.

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Course Syllabus

A note of caution. The assigned readings that can be found on-line are linked to an older website of the Languages and Nationalism class. Please note that if you are reading a text on the linked page and you hit "return to the home page," you will not be taken to the Fall 2002 home page, but to its earlier counterparts. Always use your browser's "back" button to come back to the correct home page.
August September October November and December


Wednesday, August 21
Welcome and introductions. Syllabus, website, requirements, materials, questions.
We are what we speak.

Friday, August 23
Film: American Tongues (56 minutes).
Assignment: 1-2 page reaction to the film, due Monday, August 26.

Monday, August 26
Discussion of film. Come prepared to discuss roles of language and perceptions of languages and dialects.
Assignment: John Edwards, Language, Society, and Identity, Chapter 1 (pp1-22), available at

Wednesday, August 28
Discussion of Edwards. Come prepared to discuss the following concepts: functions of language, linguistic and ethnic identity, language vs. dialect, and the relationship between ethnicity and nationalism.
Assignment: Joshua Fishman, Language & Ethnicity in Minority Sociolinguistic Perspective, Chapter 1 (pp9-22), available at

Friday, August 30
Discussion of Fishman. Come prepared to discuss the notions of ethnicity, ethnic rights, pride, and ethnocentrism.
Assignment: John Edwards, Language, Society, and Identity, Chapter 2 (pp23-46), available at

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Monday, September 2
LABOR DAY - No class!

Wednesday, September 4
Discussion of Edwards. Come prepared to discuss the relationship between language and nationalism, and where language purism fits in.
Assignment: John Edwards, Language, Society, and Identity, Chapter 3, first part (pp47-53), available at

Friday, September 6
Discussion of Edwards. Come prepared to discuss the terms language shift, decline, and death. We will also turn to the brighter topics of language revival and maintenance.
Assignment: Finish reading John Edwards, Language, Society, and Identity, Chapter 3, (pp54-98), available at
A short write-up: Please write one to two paragraphs (half a page or so) of an informed response to one of the assigned readings so far, i.e. very briefly summarize the key points of the reading, showing me that you have read and understood the writers' arguments. At the end, pose a question that you had hoped the text would answer for you but didn't, or that the text raised for you but has not been discussed (either at all or to your satisfaction) in the class. This is due Monday at the beginning of class. The persons whose names are drawn from a hat will be required to read their question and we will all attempt to answer it together. The short essays will be turned in to me at the end of class. If you still have any questions or anything is unclear, don't hesitate to email me!

Monday, September 9
Discussion of Edwards. Come prepared to apply the terms above to specific languages you are familiar with or have read about.
Assignment: Read the first 6 articles in the folder 9/11 in the "External Links" of Blackboard. If you have some extra time and are willing, you can watch the 6-minute documentary that is link 7. Caution: the film may be offensive to you! (it will also require several viewings)

Wednesday, September 11
Discussion of patriotism and nationalism in the context of 9/11.
Assignment: Joshua Fishman, Language & Ethnicity in Minority Sociolinguistic Perspective, Part 1:The Nature of Nationalism (pp105-127), available at

Friday, September 13
Continue discussion of Fishman. Come prepared to discuss pros and cons of multilingual states, sources of authenticity, and the conflict between authentification and unification.
Assignment: Tatalovich: Introduction and (selections from) Chapter 1, pp 1-24, 26-31.

Monday, September 16
Discussion of Tatalovich Introduction and (selections of) Chapter 1. Be prepared to discuss the history and hypotheses for the causes of Nativist movements, as well as the difference between English-Only and English-Plus.
Assignment: Tatalovich Ch. 3.

Wednesday, September 18
Short lecture on Ch. 2 and discussion of Tatalovich Ch. 3.
Assignment: Read Chapter 7 and look at the NC Official Language Law (pg.268).

Friday, September 20
Discussion of Ch. 7 and the NC Official Language Law.
Assignment: Tatalovich Selections from Chapters 4 and 5, (pp 128-131 and pp 168-172) and Conclusions (pp 243-257).

Monday, September 23
Discussion of Tatalovich Conclusions.
Assignment: Smitherman, 1-15, KWL chart on the Ebonics Controversy.

Wednesday, September 25
Film: Family Across the Sea (56 minutes).
Assignment: Smitherman, 16-34.
Journal due Monday, September 30.

Friday, September 27
Discussion: Smitherman 1-34.
Midterm exam review questions will be handed out.
Assignment: Smitherman 35-59.

Monday, September 30
Discussion of Black Semantics.
Assignment: Smitherman 177-200.

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Wednesday, October 2
Discussion of Black-White Language Attitudes.
Assignment: Smitherman 215-241.

Friday, October 4
Discussion of education and the Oakland Board of Education Resolution.
Assignment: Prepare for midterm exam on Monday.

Monday, October 7
Finish up Ebonics resolution. Review for Midterm.

Wednesday, October 9
Midterm exam.

Friday, October 11
Discussion of midterm exam questions.
Language and Nationalism in Western Europe.
Assignment: Read Stepher Barbour: "Nationalism, Language, Europe" on reserve in the library and on electronic reserve.

Monday, October 14
Language and Nationalism in Western Europe. The bodies of the European Union.
Assignment: Read Camille C. O'Reilly: "Minority Language, Ethnicity, and the State in the EU," on reserve in the library and on electronic reserve.

Wednesday, October 16
Language and identity in the EU.
Midterm exams back.
Assignment: Evaluate the Charter on Minority and Less Commonly Used Languages, available at

Friday, October 18
FALL BREAK - No class!

Monday, October 21
European Charter and Council of Europe.
Discuss group presentations.
Assignment: work on your presentations.

Monday evening
Scheduled special viewing of "How We Speak: Kane's Wales" in the library
Assignment: Journal, due Friday, October 25.

Wednesday, October 23
In-class group presentation work.
Assignment: work on your presentations.
Reading TBA.

Friday, October 25
Guest Lecture: Switzerland.
Assignment: work on your presentations; group 1 and 2 readings.

Monday, October 28
Group 1 and 2 presentations.
Assignment: group 3 and 4 readings.

Wednesday, October 30
Group 3 and 4 presentations.
Assignment: group 5 and 6 readings.

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Friday, November 1
Group 5 and 6 presentations.
Assignment: group 7 and 8 readings.

Monday, November 4
Group 7 and 8 presentations.
Assignment: Hindi/Urdu talk reading.

Wednesday, November 6
Guest Lecture: Hindi/Urdu.
Assignment: TBA.

Friday, November 8
Guest Lecture: Language and nationalism in the Czech Republic.
Assignment: Read Camille C. O'Reilly: Minority Language, Ethnicity, and the State in Post-1989 Eastern Europe" on reserve in the library and on electronic reserve.

Monday, November 11
Language and identity in Eastern Europe.
Assignment: TBA.

Wednesday, November 13
Guest Lecture: Ethnic cleansing in Poland and Soviet Union after WWII.
Assignment: TBA.

Friday, November 15
Guest lecture: A survey of former-Yugoslavia.
Assignment: TBA - Slovenia.

Monday, November 18
Slovenia's linguistic profile.
Assignment: Read Robert Greenberg: "The Politics of Dialects Among Serbs, Croats, and Muslims in the Former Yugoslavia" on reserve in the library and on electronic reserve.

Wednesday, November 20
Croatia and Serbia - politics and languages.
Assignment: TBA - Bosnia.

Friday, November 22
Guest Lecture: Bosnia.
Assignment: Robert Greenberg: "In the aftermath of Yugoslavia's collapse: The politics of language death and language birth" on reserve in the library and on electronic reserve.

Monday, November 25
Serbia and Montenegro - politics and languages.
Assignment: Read: "First philological conference for the establishment of the Macedonian alphabet and the Macedonian literary language: its precedents and consequences." (Friedman, Victor) on electronic reserve at Davis Library for LING 75 (from Fall 2001, under instructor: Greenberg, Robert)

Wednesday, November 27

Friday, November 29

Monday, December 2
Discussion on Macedonia and summary. For an example of linguistic nationalism about Macedonia today, please visit

Wednesday, December 4
Final exam review questions will be handed out.
Review of final exam study questions.

Monday, December 16
FINAL EXAM, starting at 2PM.

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Course Links

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Contact Information and Office Hours

Office: 326 Dey Hall (and occasionally in 314 Dey Hall)
Phone: 962-4416 (in 314 Dey Hall)
Office Hours: MW 1-2pm, F 3-4:30pm, and by appointment

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