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Philosophical Reflection on the Protection of the Language Rights of Ethnic Minorities(abstract)
September 28,2016   By:chinahumanrights.org
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Lu Wenlong (photo: Zhao Yifan)

Philosophical Reflection on the Protection of the Language Rights of Ethnic Minorities(abstract)
 
Lu Wenlong

 Associate Professor of Dongbei University of Finance and Economics
 
Abstract: Philosophical studies on "language issue" have become a central concern of modern Western philosophy. Language essentially is the basis on which the historical being of human beings is founded. Studying the nature and significance of the languages of ethnic minorities from the perspective of philosophy can offer some guidance on the macro level to the protection of such languages. The existence of an ethnic minority hinges on the language of that ethnic minority, which is the basis of the historical being of the minority, andthe very symbol by which the minority group becomes what it is. In a sense, the being of ethnic minorities lies in their languages. If the language of an ethnic language becomes extinct, then any talk about protecting its language will become totally irrelevant. 
 
While the protection of political, economic, and social rights as well as other cultural rights of minority ethnic groups can be guaranteed by constitutions and laws, preferential policies, and properly designed institutional structures, the protection of language rights of minorities is drastically different in that with the steady increase in social productivity, the protection of most rights of ethnic minorities has been generally improved, but the protection of their language rights has not. Rather, due to the linguistic ecological environment, the worldwide extinction of some languages continues, which poses a dilemma for protecting the language rights of ethnic minorities. 
 
Unified languages (e.g., English and Mandarin) that are highly clear and accurate areadaptable  to economic globalization and urbanization, and therefore have apparently become synonymous with civilization, modernization and science. While such unified languages are used highly frequently, the languages of ethnic minorities are becoming increasingly less used. As the status of unified languages are dramatically elevated, such languages have acquired a certain degree of superiority or even dominance over other languages. Such overwhelming superiority or dominance have become so prevailing that all nations, including minority ethnic groups, have been converted into followers of language fetishism, so to speak. As language fetishism becomes more and more widespread in contemporary world, the process by which languages of minorities become rejected objectively and abandoned subjectively are accelerated. The dominance of unified languages will inevitably lead to the demise of minority languages, that is the essence of the dilemma faced by the bid to protect the languages of minority groups in the contemporary world..
 
In the face of such a dilemma, two approaches, one external, and the other internal, may be adopted to explore the protection of the language rights of ethnic minorities. The internal approach involves cultivating the cultural self-confidence of minority ethnic groups, especially their love for and willingness to inherit and develop their own languages, boosting their awareness of their rights to their own languages, so that they will actively resist fetishism of unified languages. The external approach, on the other hand, calls for the government to step up the protection for the language rights of ethnic minorities through Constitution, laws, preferential policies and specifically designed institutions. 
 
Key words: ethnic minorities; language rights; philosophy
 
Lu Wenlong, Associate Professor, Dongbei University of Finance & Economics.