Encyclopedia of Language and Education

2008 Edition
| Editors: Nancy H. Hornberger

The Ecology of Language: Insight and Illusion

  • John Edwards
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-30424-3_218


As a term and a focus of study, ecology is a mid‐nineteenth‐century coinage of Ernst Haeckel and, as its Greek root ( οίκος = home) implies, the emphasis is upon the holistic study of environments within which lives are lived and intertwined. Ecology is about adaptations whose necessity arises from inevitable linkages.

In both the ‘natural’ world and the constructed one, ecology is pivotal, and any ecological model deserves our notice. That is why it is important to understand the framework, the assumptions and the scope of the ‘new’ ecology of language. Although it is, I believe, a deeply flawed model, a broader ecological sensitivity is important; perhaps, in fact, the real value of current approaches is that their very inadequacies focus attention in salutary ways. In some ways, then, the ‘new’ ecolinguistics suggests a welcome extension to the breadth and depth of the larger ecological enterprise—and current ecological discussion does indeed touch upon the most central...


Language Policy Linguistic Diversity Language Planning English Language Teaching Heritage Language 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ammon, U.: 2000, ‘Towards more fairness in international English: Linguistic rights of non‐native speakers?’, in R. Phillipson (ed.), Rights to Language, Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ,Google Scholar
  2. Brumfit, C.: 2001, Individual Freedom in Language Teaching, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  3. Canagarajah, A.: 1999a, ‘On EFL teachers, awareness and agency’, ELT Journal 53, 207–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Canagarajah, A.: 1999b, Resisting Linguistic Imperialism in English Language Teaching, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  5. Chawla, S.: 2001, ‘Linguistics and genes, people and languages’, in A. Fill P. Mühlhäusler (eds.), The Ecolinguistics Reader, Continuum, London,Google Scholar
  6. Dworkin, R.: 2000, Sovereign Virtue: The Theory and Practice of Equality, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  7. Edwards, J.: 1992, ‘Sociopolitical aspects of language maintenance and loss: Towards a typology of minority language situations’, in W. Fase, K. Jaspaert, S. Kroon (eds.), Maintenance and Loss of Minority Languages, Benjamins, Amsterdam,Google Scholar
  8. Edwards, J.: 2001, ‘Ecolinguistic ideologies: A critical perspective’, LAUD (Universität Essen) Series A: General & Theoretical Papers (No. 531).Google Scholar
  9. Edwards, J.: 2002, ‘Old wine in new bottles’, in A. Boudreau, L. Dubois, J. Maurais, G. McConnell (eds.), L'écologie des langues, L'Harmattan, Paris,Google Scholar
  10. Fill, A. and Mühlhäusler, P.: 2001, ‘Introduction’, in A. Fill P. Mühlhäusler (eds.), The Ecolinguistics Reader, Continuum, London.Google Scholar
  11. Garner, M.: 2004, Language: An Ecological View, Peter Lang, Bern.Google Scholar
  12. Geeraerts, D.: 2003, ‘Cultural models of linguistic standardization’, in R. Dirven, R. Frank, and M. Pütz (eds.), Cognitive Models in Language and Thought: Ideologies, Metaphors and Meanings, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin,Google Scholar
  13. Grenoble, L. and Whaley, L. (eds.): 1998, Endangered Languages: Current Issues and Future Prospects, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  14. Haugen, E.: 1972, ‘The ecology of language’, in A. Dil (ed.), The Ecology of Language: Essays by Einar Haugen, Stanford University Press, Stanford.Google Scholar
  15. Haugen, E.: 1987, Blessings of Babel: Bilingualism and Language Planning, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin.Google Scholar
  16. Kukathas, C.: 1992, ‘Are there any cultural rights?’, Political Theory 20, 105–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kymlicka, W.: 1995a, Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  18. Kymlicka, W. (ed.): 1995b, The Rights of Minority Cultures, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  19. Maffi, L. (ed.): 2001, On Biocultural Diversity: Linking Language, Knowledge and the Environment, Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington.Google Scholar
  20. Mühlhäusler, P.: 1996, Linguistic Ecology: Language Change and Linguistic Imperialism in the Pacific Region, Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  21. Mühlhäusler, P.: 2000, ‘Language planning and language ecology’, Current Issues in Language Planning 1, 306–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Orwell, G.: 1944/1970, ‘As I please’, Tribune, 30 June and 28 July, 1944. [These and other “As I please” articles—Orwell's regular weekly contribution to Tribune, between December 1943 and February 1945—are presented in The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell (edited in four volumes by S. Orwell and I. Angus, Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin). The citations here are found on pp. 208 and 230 of the third volume].Google Scholar
  23. Pennycook, A.: 2004, ‘Language policy and the ecological turn’, Language Policy 3, 213–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Phillipson, R.: 2002, Review of The Dominance of English as a Language of Science (U. Ammon), Journal of Language, Identity and Education 1, 163–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Phillipson, R.: 2003, English‐Only Europe? Challenging Language Policy, Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  26. Phillipson, R. and Skutnabb‐Kangas, T.: 1996, ‘English only worldwide or language ecology?’, TESOL Quarterly 30, 429–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Polzenhagen, F. and Dirven, F.: 2004, ‘Rationalist or romantic model in language policy and globalisation’, paper presented at the LAUD (Linguistic Agency, University of Duisburg) Conference, Landau.Google Scholar
  28. Rawls, J.: 1999, The Law of Peoples, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  29. Salminen, T.: 1998, ‘Minority languages in a society in turmoil: The case of the northern languages of the Russian Federation’, in N. Ostler (ed.), Endangered Languages, Foundation for Endangered Languages, Bath,Google Scholar
  30. Skutnabb‐Kangas, T.: 2002, ‘Some philosophical and ethical aspects of ecologically based language planning’, in A. Boudreau, L. Dubois, J. Maurais, and G. McConnell (eds.), L'écologie des Langues, L'Harmattan, Paris,Google Scholar
  31. Taylor, C.: 1992, Multiculturalism and “The Politics of Recognition” (with commentaries by A. Gutmann, S. Wolf, S. Rockefeller, and M. Walzer), Princeton University Press, Princeton.Google Scholar
  32. Taylor, C.: 1994, Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition (with commentaries by A. Gutmann, A. Appiah, J. Habermas, S. Rockefeller, M. Walzer, and S. Wolf), Princeton University Press, Princeton [an expanded version of Taylor, 1992].Google Scholar
  33. Terralingua: 1999, Statement of Purpose, Terralingua, Hancock, Michigan.Google Scholar
  34. TESOL: 2000, TESOL Board of Directors Reaffirms Position on Language Rights, TESOL, Alexandria, Virginia.Google Scholar
  35. Voegelin, C., Voegelin, F., and Schutz, N.: 1967, ‘The language situation in Arizona as part of the southwest cultural area’, in D. Hymes W. Bittle (eds.), Studies in Southwestern Ethnolinguistics, Mouton, The Hague.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Edwards
    • 1
  1. 1.St Francis Xavier UniversityNova ScotiaCanada