JOPOL 6(2022)

Postcolonial sociolinguistics: Investigating Attitudes, Ideologies and Power in Language Contact Settings 
Marie-Eve Bouchard

In this special issue, the contributors and I propose a sociolinguistic approach to postcolonial studies. Sociolinguistics has been engaged with coloniality and postcolonial studies for decades and many sociolinguists approach the discipline from a critical perspective. In fact, sociolinguists are constantly challenging and rethinking how we conceptualize, analyse, study, and represent languages and speakers. Their approach to postcolonialism does not necessarily refer to a specific shift that was an outcome of colonization, but rather to a focus on how language and power are (still) embedded in a Eurocentric organization of the world and on decentering the groups and languages that are in positions of power.   

With this in mind, in this special issue we address how language ideologies and attitudes are constructed in multilingual and language contact settings, and how they create and maintain unequal relations of power between groups. The contributors to this volume examine different linguistic contexts to access and analyze the processes and outcomes of language ideologies and attitudes. They ask how power relations are enacted in, by, and through language in contact settings, how power asymmetries are reflected on languages and interactions, and what the role of language ideologies and attitudes is in the (unequal) distribution of power within a society or a group. They address these questions through several empirical studies involving languages from Central America (Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Belize), the Caribbean (Bonaire, San AndrĂ©s, Providence), South America (Bolivia), Europe (Spain and France), and the United States. Our aim is to bring new ideas to address the possible outcomes of language ideologies and attitudes in multilingual and postcolonial settings, to explore how ideologies and attitudes are tied to power relations, and to rethink sociolinguistics in postcolonial and decolonial frameworks by decentering the groups in power. We contribute to the body of scholarship that commits to social justice, the understanding of privileges and inequalities, and the deconstruction of the colonial legacies that are often taken for granted.