Call for papers for a special issue of the journal Sociolinguistic
Papers are sought for a monograph to appear as a special issue of the journal
Sociolinguistic Studies (formerly Estudios de Sociolingüistica),
titled 'Monolingualism' in December 2008, with the editor for the special issue
being Dr Elizabeth Ellis. Sociolinguistic Studies is published by
Equinox Publishing in London (http://www.equinoxjournals.com/ojs/index.php/SS/index).
It is widely accepted by linguists that bilingualism and multilingualism are
more common worldwide than monolingualism. However research has concentrated on
the former two; the implication being that monolingualism is the norm, and that
bi/multilingualism constitute aberrant states. In contrast, there is little
systematic investigation of monolingualism, and, as Romaine (1995) points out,
it would be strange to find a book with the title ‘Monolingualism’. The planned
monograph will carry such a title, and the papers it seeks to include will
explore the phenomenon of monolingualism from a number of different
perspectives. These perspectives might include language ideology, language
choice in education, language policy and planning, language awareness, second
and third language teaching and others from applied linguistics and
Ellis (2006), in one of the first systematic examinations of monolingualism,
reviews three major strands of thought. The first is as the ‘unmarked case’ or
the norm, against which bilingualism and multilingualism are set as the
exception, and this is claimed by several authors to be a common feature of
powerful and dominant societies. The second strand of thought is found among
those who teach and promote the learning of foreign languages, and presents
monolingualism as a limitation on cognitive, communicative, social and
vocational potential: a missed opportunity. The third view of monolingualism is
more critical, viewing it as an unexamined and dangerous phenomenon which has
profoundly negative effects on the development and application of social and
educational policy. There is currently no serious literature which argues for
monolingualism, or which claims that speaking more than one language is harmful
or undesirable. (There are, however, certainly attempts to argue that children
will suffer if their education takes place in more than one language (see for
example the U.S. English-Only movement (Crawford 2000) and Ruiz’s (1994)
contention that ‘bilingual’ has become a synonym for ‘educationally
There have been critiques of a ‘monolingual prejudice’ in SLA (Sridhar, 1994,
Kachru 1994, Ortega 2007), and of a ‘monolingual fallacy’ in English language
teaching (ELT) (Phillipson 1992, Widdowson 1997). Oller (1997) talks of ‘monoglottosis’,
a kind of language blindness which Smolicz (1995) terms ‘monolingual myopia’,
while Skutnabb-Kangas 2000) levels the charge of ‘monolingual reductionism’ in
language policy and planning. The assumption of monolingualism as the norm in
courts of law has been blamed for compromising the processes of justice (Eades,
2003). Clyne (2007) lists several aspects of what he terms the ‘monolingual
mindset’ of Australian public life, and Ellis (2007) found a profoundly
monolingual view of English language learning in the profession of ESL.
Such authors claim, then, that monolingual perspectives dominate in
educational testing, in curriculum development and in how literacy is defined,
taught and tested. Monolingual worldviews of language and dialect infect
policies and processes of determining the origin of refugees, and this can mean
the difference between citizenship and statelessness, freedom and detention,
life and death. These are not small stakes.
These critiques suggest that monolingualism is deserving of study as a
phenomenon in its own right, rather than simply as the invisible and unexamined
corollary of bi/multilingualism. Systematic documentation and analysis of the
causes and effects of monolingualism might contribute to the awareness of the
sources of silent but powerful opposition to societal and individual
multilingualism, and to possibilities for resisting it.
Papers are sought which might address, but need not be limited to, the
- How can monolingualism be defined? Is it a continuum
in the same way as bilingualism?
- What is a ‘monolingual mindset’?
- How can we move beyond assertion to conduct research
on the effects of a monolingual mindset on individuals, families,
communities and public policy?
- What is the impact of monolingualism on social and
educational policy in selected sites?
- What can be done to increase public awareness of the
effects of monolingual perspectives?
- What interdisciplinary perspectives are necessary to
investigate monolingualism, if, like bilingualism, we see it as social as
well as linguistic?
- How can we investigate and critique monolingualism as
a phenomenon while avoiding vilifying individual monolinguals?
- How can linguists work as activists to resist
Papers which report empirical research studies focussing on monolingualism
are especially welcome.
Clyne, M. (2007). Are we making a difference? Australian Review of Applied
Linguistics 30 (1): 3.1–3.14.
Crawford, J. (2000). At war with diversity: US language
policy in an age of anxiety. Clevedon, Multilingual Matters.
Eades, D. (2003). Participation of second language and second dialect speakers
in the legal system. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 23:113-33.
Ellis, E. M. (2006). Monolingualism: the unmarked case. Estudios de
Sociolingüistica 7 (2): 173-196.
Ellis, E. M. (2007). Discourses of L1 and bilingual teaching in adult ESL. TESOL
in Context 16 (2).
Kachru, Y. (1994). Monolingual bias in SLA research. TESOL Quarterly 28 (4): 795-800.
Oller, J. W. (1997). Monoglottosis: what's wrong with the idea of the IQ
meritocracy and its racy cousins? Applied Linguistics 18 (4): 467-507.
Ortega, L. (2007). Conocimiento y Multicompetencia: Dos Retos Contemporáneos
para el Estudio de la Adquisición de Segundas Lenguas. Plenary address. 25th
AESLA Conference (Asociación Española de Lingüística Aplicada). Murcia, Spain,
Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic imperialism. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Romaine, S. (1995). Bilingualism. Oxford, Blackwell.
Ruiz, R. (1994). Language policy and planning in the United States. Annual
Review of Applied Linguistics 14:111-125.
Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2000). Linguistic genocide in education - or worldwide
diversity and human rights? Mahwah NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum.
Smolicz, J. J. (1995). Language - a bridge or a barrier? Languages and education
in Australia from an intercultural perspective. Multilingua 14 (2): 151-182.
Sridhar, S. N. (1994). A reality check for SLA theories. TESOL Quarterly 28 (4):
Widdowson, H. G. (1997). Approaches to second language teacher education.
Encyclopaedia of Language and Education: Vol. 4: Second Language Education.
G. R. Tucker and D. Corson. (Eds.) Dordrecht, Kluwer Academic Publishers: 121-129.
Submission process and timeline
A proposal, consisting of title and draft abstract (150 - 200 words): due
31st August 2007
Submission of full paper (max. 6000 words) for external blind review: due
31st December 2007
All papers will be blind-reviewed by 2 expert reviewers, and acceptance will
be subject to reviews, with the final decision being made by the team of
Editors: Elizabeth Ellis, Xoán Paulo Rodriguez-Yáñez and Fernando Ramallo.
Publication: December 2008
Papers should be a maximum of 6000 words, excluding references and abstract.
Detailed guidelines for authors can be consulted at:
Proposals and enquiries should be addressed initially via email to Dr
Elizabeth Ellis, University of New England, NSW, Australia, at: