Language Ideologies Compared


  • Susan Gal


The cultural distinction of public/private is as crucial to capitalism as to liberal politics, as significant in everyday life as in social theory. Analyzing it as a language ideology of differentiation clarifies how it creates separations between contrasting icons of linguistic genres, places, persons, and moralities. Ethnographic and textual materials from the United States are juxtaposed with evidence from Eastern European state socialism, providing a general method for comparing language ideologies. Semiotic properties of fractal recursion and erasure are evident in both cases, yet with telling differences in the metaphors through which the distinction is abstracted from interaction, anchored, and further extended.