Lingue e Linguaggi (Jan 2016)

Lingue e migrazione. Un caso di studio: l’Australia

  • Thomas Wulstan Christiansen

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 16, no. 0
pp. 597 – 619


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Abstract – This chapter focuses upon two contrasting features of the linguistic situation in Australia. On the one hand, together with nationhood, the past hundred or so years have seen the evolution of a distinct national variety of English in Australia recognizable also outside Australia. On the other, Australia, though a young nation, has been continuously inhabited by the various Aborigine and Torre Strait Islander communities for thousands of years. These have traditionally spoken a wide variety of different languages, some of which of great interest to linguists due to their peculiarity. Increasingly, although the use of Aborigine languages has until very recently been in steady decline, since the 1950s in particular, diverse ethnic groups speaking a variety of languages, both European and Asian, have settled in Australia. The National Policy on Languages (1987) formally directed Australia towards multilingualism and the teaching of English as a first and second language is promoted together with that of Aborigine and community languages. Consequently, Australia has been one of the first nations to try to capitalise on its own linguistic diversity, both as a means of strengthening links with the outside world and as a way of promoting a multiethnic and multicultural society at home. Australia presents then an interesting case study for those working with discourse in immigration domains who are concerned with the way that language policy (or the lack of one) may effect social harmony and serve not only as an indicator of the way that migrants are received and treated, but also a catalyst in itself for greater mutual respect.