Who wins in research on bilingualism in an anti-bilingual state?


Despite its multilingual heritage, the USA has a history of linguistic intolerance. Arizona, in the country's desert Southwest, is decidedly anti-bilingual although it has significant non-English-speaking groups, especially Spanish-speaking Mexicans/Mexican–Americans and indigenous groups such as the Navajo, Hopi and Yaqui tribes, among many others. This anti-bilingual ideology has resulted in the passage of legislation restricting residents' linguistic rights, such as Proposition 106 to make English the sole official language of all state business and Proposition 203 to eliminate bilingual education in state-funded schools. Several explanations have been put forth to account for this anti-bilingual ideology, from racism to ignorance to fear. In this paper I argue that researchers of bilingualism in a state ideologically opposed to language minority groups' bilingualism have certain responsibilities vis-à-vis the members of language minority groups who are the participants in their research. I suggest that each explanation, were it true, would require a different approach from researchers working to protect and advance language minority groups' rights. I conclude that it is crucial for sociolinguists to take their responsibilities to the communities they research seriously due to the pressing political situation engendered by the latest wave of linguistic intolerance and repression.


Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

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Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development


Taylor & Francis

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