INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER 11

Peter Auer

It is common practice in bilingual studies to separate and label the languages of a bilingual group of speakers their ‘we-code’ and ‘they-code’. At the same time, the former language is often said to be a ‘minority language’, the latter the ‘majority language’. As the preceding chapters in this book have already shown, both dichotomies as well as their association are problematic. The notion of a ‘minority language’ clearly cannot be defined by reference to the number of its speakers in a given unit, usually a nation or state; for under such a definition, English would be a minority language in South Africa, India, Hong Kong and many other places, Gaelic a minority language in (the Republic of) Ireland, ...

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