Language Policy

, 8:377

Is public discourse about language policy really public discourse about immigration? A corpus-based study

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10993-009-9147-6

Cite this article as:
Fitzsimmons-Doolan, S. Lang Policy (2009) 8: 377. doi:10.1007/s10993-009-9147-6


The pluralist narrative of language policies suggests that language policies are influenced by public perceptions of immigrants (Darder 2004; González 2000; Pavlenko 2002; Valdés 1997). This paper investigates the relationship between newspaper discourse about language policies and newspaper discourse about immigration. It asks how much key, lexical overlap exists between the discourses. This study compared Arizona newspaper corpora representing discourse about language policies and discourse about immigration to evaluate the degree of similarity in discourses. Keyword analysis, identifying unusually frequent words, was used to assess the degree of important semantic overlap across topic-based corpora. Four topic-based corpora were constructed from the newspapers published between January 1999 and October 2007. Surprisingly, little key, lexical overlap was found between language policy corpora and immigration corpora. In light of the findings, advantages and limitations of various methodologies for language policy questions are discussed—corpus-based methods in particular.


Language policyArizonaCorpusKeyword analysisImmigrationPluralist



United States




English language learners

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.English Department, Applied Linguistics ProgramNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA