Chapter

Ethnic Diversity and Nationalism

Lionel Wee

in Language without Rights

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199737437
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199827107 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199737437.003.0005

Series: Oxford Studies in Sociolinguistics

Ethnic Diversity and Nationalism

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The purpose of this chapter is to compare the different ways in which Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore have tried to deal with ethnolinguistically diverse populations within the context of nationalism. These cases usefully represent a continuum of societies, from Sri Lanka, where the discourse of rights is highly prominent, to Singapore, where it is largely absent, with Malaysia situated somewhere in between. This selection of societies allows for a useful comparison of the relative effects that language rights can have in mitigating linguistic discrimination. Here, contrary to claims by language rights advocates, the employment of a rights discourse is more likely to exacerbate rather than alleviate ethnic tensions.

Keywords: bumiputra; ethnic diversity; Malaysia; multiculturalism; nationalism; pragmatism; Singapore; Sri Lanka

Chapter.  14347 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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