Language and Who we are: some Scottish student perspectives

Nicolson, Margaret (2003). Language and Who we are: some Scottish student perspectives. Scottish Educational Review, 35(2) pp. 121–134.



This paper explores the importance to students in Scottish HIgher Education of the languages they speak and the factors shaping views of language. Family, peer group, education, and community are shown to be powerful factors in determining attitudes to one's own language(s). Of particularl impact upon the status of indigenous languages are socio-political pressures and, notably, the cultural and educational legacies which continue to prevail when thinking about language. Changing contexts play a part in modifying some individuals' attitudes to their own language(s). The paper illustrates this with findings from a survey, which shows that monolinguals may have a divergent view on language from bilinguals. The conclusion notes that languages in Scotland continue to be placed in a rather awkward relationship to a potential multilingual ethos. In a newly devloved political context, a resurgence in thinking about the role of language in Scottish society is a priority.

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