Monolingualism vs. Multilingualism in Western Europe: Language Regimes in France, Spain, and the United Kingdom

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Institutions play an important role in the management of multilingualism and can have a defining impact on language use. By granting more or less official status to certain forms of expression and language varieties, institutions legitimize some forms and varieties as more desirable targets of linguistic accommodation than others, which can affect speakers’ dominant language environments and influence the selection process of language change. This chapter outlines a socio-political approach to language standardization and interprets selected language policy and planning measures in terms of common mechanisms and outcomes of language contact in three western European states: France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Using the same historical timeline, it proposes a comparison of the circumstances under which national identities emerged in early modern and modern times, state boundaries were expanded through conquest, and more or less cultural homogeneity was achieved and enforced through language use. It is argued that even though ethnolinguistic diversity decreased considerably over time, different institutional responses to multilingualism led to different state-specific compromises that continue to shape language policies and planning in each of the three states today.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Handbook of Language Contact
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 2: Multilingualism in Population Structure
EditorsSalikoko Mufwene, Anna Maria Escobar
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781009105965
ISBN (Print)9781009098632
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Publication series

NameCambridge Handbooks in Language and Linguistics


  • multilingualism
  • institutions
  • national identity
  • standardization
  • official language
  • language planning
  • language policy
  • nation
  • state
  • monolingualism


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