Language Policy

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 323–341 | Cite as

Language policy and language governance: a case-study of Irish language legislation

  • John WalshEmail author
Original Paper


In this paper, it is argued that the existing conceptual framework of ‘language policy’ should be expanded to include perspectives from the emerging field of ‘language governance’, as the latter pays attention to the multi-faceted internal and external contexts in which institutions and organisations seek to develop language policy. The paper begins by reviewing contributions from the field of governance and assesses how these can expand the scope of language policy, particularly when conducting case-studies of individual organisations. It then sketches the current demographic and macro-policy context of the Irish language. The paper concludes with a case-study of statutory language schemes ratified under the Official Languages Act 2003, legislation which promotes the use of the Irish language for official purposes. The discussion reveals conflicting language beliefs between the legislation itself and the language schemes of individual organisations, in this case public bodies. Therefore, the expansion of the conceptual framework to include governance facilitates a broader analysis of tensions around language policy both within and between different levels of public administration.


Irish language Language legislation Language ideology Language governance Language policy 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


Books, articles and research reports

  1. Baldauf, R. B., & Kaplan, R. B. (Eds.). (2006). Language planning and policy in Europe, Vol. 2: The Czech Republic, The European Union and Northern Ireland. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  2. Bauer, L., & Trudgill, P. (Eds.). (1998). Language myths. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  3. Canagarajah, S. (2006). Ethnographic methods in language policy. In T. Ricento (Ed.), An introduction to language policy: Theory and method (pp. 153–169). Malden [MA] and Oxford [UK]: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  4. Cardinal, L., & Juillet, L. (2002). L’Ontario francophone et la gouvernance des minorités de langue officielle au Canada: Document de réflexion. Ottawa: Université d’Ottawa.Google Scholar
  5. Cardinal, L., & Cox, R. (2005). La gouvernance des langues officielles au Canada et ses effets sur les femmes et les groups de femmes francophones en milieu minoritaire: Optimiser un potentiel rassembleur. Ottawa: Université d’Ottawa.Google Scholar
  6. Cardinal, L., Lang, S., & Sauvé, A. (2005). Apprendre à travailler autrement: la gouvernance partagée et le développement des communautés minoritaires de langue officielle au Canada. Ottawa: Université d’Ottawa.Google Scholar
  7. Central Statistics Office. (2007). Census 2006. Volume 9: The Irish language. Cork: CSO.Google Scholar
  8. Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge. (1998). Towards a language act: A discussion document. Dublin: Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge.Google Scholar
  9. Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. (2011). Review of Official Languages Act 2003. Press release, 3 November.Google Scholar
  10. Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. (2004). Guidelines under Section 12 of the Official Languages Act 2003. Dublin: DCRGA.Google Scholar
  11. Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. (2011). Public service reform, 17th November 2011. Dublin: DPER.Google Scholar
  12. Eurobarometer. (2001). Eurobarometer 54 Special: Europeans and Languages. Brussels: European Commission.Google Scholar
  13. Field, M. C., & Kroskrity, P. V. (2009). ‘Introduction: Revealing native American language ideologies. In M. C. Field & P. V. Kroskrity (Eds.), Native American language ideologies: Beliefs, practices and struggles in Indian country (pp. 1–28). Tucson: University of Arizona Press.Google Scholar
  14. Fishman, J. A. (Ed.). (2000). Can threatened languages be saved? Reversing language shift revisited. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  15. Foras na Gaeilge. (2006). An Córas Creidiúnaithe d’Aistritheoirí. Press release, 28 July.Google Scholar
  16. Forgues, É., & St-Onge, S. (2011). Portrait de la gouvernance des organismes acadiens et francophones au Nouveau-Brunswick. Ottawa: UniversitÉ d’Ottawa.Google Scholar
  17. Government of Ireland. (2010). 20-Year strategy for the Irish language 2010–2030. Dublin: Stationery Office.Google Scholar
  18. Grenoble, L. A., & Whaley, L. J. (Eds.). (2006). Saving languages: An introduction to language revitalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Grin, F. (2005). La gouvernance linguistique en Suisse. In J.-P. Wallot (Ed.), La gouvernance linguistique: Le Canada en perspective (pp. 39–54). Ottawa: Presse de l’Université d’Ottawa.Google Scholar
  20. Hindley, R. (1990). The death of the Irish language: A qualified obituary. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Hornberger, N. (2006). Frameworks and models in language policy and planning. In T. Ricento (Ed.), An introduction to language policy: Theory and method (pp. 24–43). Malden [MA] and Oxford [UK]: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  22. Kaplan, R. B., & Baldauf, R. B. (2005). Language planning and policy: Europe. Vol. 1: Hungary, Finland and Sweden. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  23. LeBlanc, M. (2003). L’aménagement linguistique au Nouveau-Brunswick: L’état des lieux. Moncton: Université de Moncton.Google Scholar
  24. Leonard, W. (2008). When is an “Extinct Language” not extinct? Miami, a formerly sleeping language. In K. A. King, N. Schilling-Estes, L. Fogle, J. J. Lou, & B. Soukup (Eds.), Sustaining linguistic diversity: Endangered and minority languages and language varieties (pp. 23–34). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Loughlin, J., & Williams, C. H. (2007). Governance and language: The intellectual foundations. In C. H. Williams (Ed.), Language and governance (pp. 57–103). Cardiff: University of Wales Press.Google Scholar
  26. Mac Gréil, M., & Rhatigan, F. (2009). The Irish language and the Irish people: Report on the attitudes towards, competence in and use of the Irish language in the Republic of Ireland in 2007–08. Maynooth: National University of Ireland.Google Scholar
  27. Nic Pháidín, C., & Ó Cearnaigh, S. (Eds.) (2008). A new view of the Irish language. Dublin: Cois Life.Google Scholar
  28. Normand, M. (2011). L’innovation dans la gouvernance communautaire. Volume 1: Catalogue des pratiques. Ottawa: Université d’Ottawa.Google Scholar
  29. Ó Giollagáin, C., et al. (2007). Comprehensive linguistic study of the use of Irish in the Gaeltacht: Principal findings and recommendations. Dublin: DCRGA.Google Scholar
  30. Ó hIfearnáin, T. (2006). Beartas Teanga. Dublin: Coiscéim.Google Scholar
  31. Ó Murchú, M. (1985). The Irish language. Dublin: Department of Foreign Affairs/Bord na Gaeilge.Google Scholar
  32. Ó Murchú, H. (2008). More facts about Irish. Dublin: European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages.Google Scholar
  33. Ó Riagáin, P., & Ó Gliasáin, M. (1994). National survey on languages 1993: Preliminary report. Dublin: ITÉ.Google Scholar
  34. Ó Riagáin, P. (1997). Language policy and social reproduction: Ireland 1893–1993. Oxford: Clarenden Press.Google Scholar
  35. O’Rourke, B. (2011). Galician and Irish in the European context: Attitudes towards weak and strong minority languages. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  36. Ricento, T. (Ed.). (2006). An introduction to language policy: Theory and method. Malden [MA] and Oxford [UK]: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  37. Schiffman, H. (2006). Language policy and linguistic culture. In T. Ricento (Ed.), An introduction to language policy: Theory and method (pp. 111–126). Malden: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  38. Shohamy, E. (2006). Language Policy: Hidden agendas and new approaches. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Silverstein, M. (1979). Language structure and linguistic ideology. In P. R. Clyne, W. F. Hanks, & C. L. Hofbauer (Eds.), The elements: A parasession on linguistic units and levels (pp. 193–247). Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.Google Scholar
  40. Spolsky, B. (2004). Language policy. Cambridge [UK]: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Spolsky, B. (2009). Language management. Cambridge [UK]: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Strubell, M. (2000). Catalan a decade later. In J. A. Fishman (Ed.), Can threatened languages be saved? Reversing language shift revisited (pp. 260–283). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Google Scholar
  43. Université d’Ottawa. (2012). Faculté des sciences socials—Les savoirs de la gouvernance communautaire. Available at: (read 1 February 2012).
  44. Walsh, J. (2011). Contests and contexts: The Irish language and Ireland’s socio-economic development. Oxford: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  45. Walsh, J., & McLeod, W. (2008). An overcoat wrapped around an invisible man? Language legislation and language revitalisation in Ireland and Scotland. Language Policy, 7, 21–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Williams, C. H. (Ed.). (2007). Language and governance. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.Google Scholar

Personal communication

  1. Ó Cuirreáin, S. (2012). Personal communication with An Coimisinéir Teanga, 9 January.Google Scholar


  1. Ireland. (2003). Official Languages Act. No. 32 of 2003.Google Scholar
  2. English translations of language schemes are available at:

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Languages, Literatures and CulturesNational University of IrelandGalwayIreland

Personalised recommendations