Language Planning


Language planning helps in developing and designing the policies or programs to direct or change language use. It is done through the establishment of an official language.

Many linguists have defined language planning.

Some of their definitions are as follows:

  • Language planning is a government long term, official, persistent and sensible effort to alter the language functions in society. It helps to solve the communication problem. (Weinstein 1980, p.56)
  • Language planning is an authorized policy which is created and implemented. It is basically about how languages and linguistic varieties of country are going to be used. (David Crystal 1996, p.366)

Historical Background

Uriel Weinrich was the first one who put forward language planning. He introduced this term when he was at Columbia University attending the seminar that was held in 1957. Secondly, If we are concerned with the literature, Einar Haugen was the person who was known to give birth to the language planning concept. He was an American Norwegian sociolinguist.

Aims/Goals of Language Planning

Following are some of the purposes and goals of language planning:

  • It prevents the language death.
  • Language planning helps in reversing the language shift.
  • It also helps to reforms and revitalizes a language.
  • Language planning standardize and modernized a language.
  • It strengthens the language communication and also helps to spread it.
  • Language planning helps to attain the national unity and harmony.
  • Country can also attain social, political and economic benefits.

In 2003 Nahir gave eleven language planning goals which are following:

  1. Language Purification –It helps to preserve the “linguistic purity” of language. Instructions about language usage protect the language from foreign influences. It also guard against language deviation from within.
  2. Revival of language –Attempts which bring back the language into its normal means of communication. It basically turns the language with few or no surviving native speakers to normal or many speakers of the language.
  3. Language Reform –A conscious change in the specific internal aspects of language like grammar, spelling, orthography etc.
  4. Standardization of language –Transforming the regional language or dialect into accepted major and standard language of the region.
  5. Language Spread –Efforts which increase the number of speakers’ one language as compared to others.
  6. Lexical Modernization –It involves creation or revision of words
  7. Terminology Unification –Unified terminologies development especially technical domains.
  8. Stylistic Simplification –Simplify the usage of language in social and formal contexts. It modifies the use of lexicon, grammar and style of language.
  9. Interlingual Communication –It facilitates the communication between distinct speech communities.
  10. Language Maintenance –It maintains the language usage as a first or second language. Especially when there is a pressure which threatens or can cause the decline of the language.
  11. Auxiliary Code Standardization –Includes the standardization of auxiliary aspects of language. Marginal or auxiliary aspects like signs for the deaf, names of places, rules of transcription and also transliteration of language.

Importance of Language Planning

To change the way in which speakers think of and use their language, language planning develops goals, objectives, and strategies for the change. (Baker & Jones, 1998; Ignace, 1998)

Language planning is very important especially in referring to the various ways of influencing a language. Planning of a language raises the status and also modifies its systems and structures. Resources of language planning can be anyone. Government, individuals, third parties, or also some combinations become the resources and give funds.

Public preferences and attitudes of speakers influence language development. They usually like language which is easier, simpler, and also which is more convenient to use. So, these are such thoughts or concerns which inform the reasons why an individual, a speech community, or a nation prefers this language to the other ones.

Language Planning Developers

Following people maintain and develop the language planning:

  • Government departments and agencies
  • Academies
  • Committees
  • Popular societies
  • Individuals

Levels in Language Planning

There are 2 main levels which are following:

  1. Macro level – where there is an involvement of Government.
  2. Micro level –where Institutions educational/libraries etc. take part.

Steps of language Planning

There are 4 important steps for language planning which are following:

  1. Selection
  2. Codification
  3. Implementation
  4. Elaboration

1. Selection

This first step involves the choices of language variety. This choice of language will be going to fulfill certain functions in a given society.

2. Codification

In this second step, there is a creation of linguistic standards or norms for a selected linguistic code. When there is a lot of local variation the aim of this step is to codify the pronunciation, vocabulary to provide a set of norms for standard use. The codification step has further three more stages:

  1. Graphization – This involves developing a writing system.
  2. Grammaticalization – It includes deciding on rules or norms of grammar
  3. Lexicalization – it involves in identifying the vocabulary

3. Implementation

This step promotes the previous steps of language planning which are selection and codification. Promotion is done by making the language more exposed in society. So, for this purpose, the selected language should be used for government publications in the media and in schools. It should also use in the production and publication of books, newspapers, education, administration, etc. The chosen language which is been chosen will certainly need to be officially implemented. The chosen standard of language will have to be viewed as the best form of language in the speech community because of its association with educational progress and social status.

4. Elaboration

In this fourth step, there is a stylistic development of a codified language. This development helps to meet the communicative demands of modern life and technology.

Types of language Planning

There are three types of language planning which are following:

  1. Status Planning
  2. Corpus Planning
  3. Acquisition planning

1. Status planning

Status planning will assign the language a social and political position. Government officials at a macro level do this kind of planning. This kind of planning includes two steps: One is the selection and the second one is the implementation. An example of status planning is: In Quebec, Canada, politicians have ordered that signs must give French more prominence and raised the status of French.

2. Corpus planning

In corpus planning, there are some changes that involve the standardization of certain elements of language. Sociolinguists and linguists, in general, do this corpus planning. This type of planning involves 2 steps: One is codification and the second one is elaboration. Examples of corpus planning include orthography and change of lexicon, pronunciation deciding, type of vocabulary used, and also changes in syntax, style, and register.

3. Acquisition planning

Government officials or private organizations that control textbooks and dictionaries especially use this kind of acquisition planning. It also focuses on how much language is required and acquired. An example of acquisition planning is: Irish officials ordered that teachers will be teaching the Irish Gaelic language at least for one hour in school every day.

Ideologies Of Decision Making for Language Planning

Decision-making is very important, especially in language planning. There are four typical ideologies in a particular society. These ideologies help in motivating the actual decision-making in language planning.

Four ideologies of decision making are following:

  1. Linguistic Assimilation
  2. Linguistic Pluralism
  3. Vernacularization
  4. Internationalism


This ideology involves the belief that everyone, regardless of their origin, should learn the dominant language of the society. So, learners are bound to speak only one language. It can also be prohibited to use another language. For example, France applied this ideology or policy to various people within its borders. The “Only English Movement” in the USA maintains that regardless of their first language, everyone in the US should speak the English language well.


In this ideology, there is the recognition of more than one language. It also takes a variety of forms. Recognition in this ideology can be territorially or individually based. And also it can be some combination of two. Furthermore, it can be complete or partial. All or only some aspects of life can be conducted in more than one language in society. For example, Canada, India are some of those countries which have more than one language or a variety of language form.


The third ideology involves the restoration or elaboration of the native (indigenous) language. Also its adoption as an official language. Language becomes vernacular when we expand the use of particular every day. Like we are Urdu vernacular country. The use of the Hebrew language in Israel and Tagalog or Pilipino in the Philippines are examples.


The last and fourth ideology of decision-making is about the adoption of a non-native (non-indigenous) language for wider communication. It can be either as the official language or use of a non-native language for education or trade purposes. For example, the English language is used in many countries or possibly in half of the World as a non-native official language like in Singapore, India, Philippines, Pakistan, India, etc.

So, this is the basic gist of language planning. We need to have knowledge about all these basic things if we have an interest in knowing this topic. I hope you like this informative article!

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