Languages and lives through a critical eye: The case of Estonia
This article seeks to situate Estonian language use and policy within the emerging field of critical language policy and planning (LPP). Critical LPP draws on poststructuralist theory to deconstruct normalized categories that maintain systems of inequality. It is akin to the queer theory project for gender and sexuality. Since the country regained its independence in 1991, Estonian language planners have attempted to promote Estonian given the domain loss it suffered under Soviet occupation. But what justification can there be today for a policy in favor of Estonian when this is once again a majority language? The poststructuralist perspective allows us to view operations of power not as the result of intergroup or interlingual tensions but rather of discursive structures that privilege certain ways of knowing over others. This, it is hoped, will afford us lessons for exploring equitable and ethical outcomes in other polities that are trying to reverse the decline of an indigenous language following periods of colonial or other forms of political oppression. Indeed, the preservation of diversity, I argue, is often-but not always-an equitable and ethical outcome in and of itself.
Critical Inquiry in Language Studies
Language in Culture and Society (Sociolinguistics)