chapter  2
13 Pages

Historical review of the PRC’s minority/indigenous language policy and practice: nation-state building and identity construction

The PRC has a minority population of over 106 million, most of whom are indi-

genous. How have the PRC’s language policy and practice for this minority pop-

ulation evolved in the past six decades? This question essentially concerns what

minority communities have experienced in their language use in school, at work,

and even at home in a multilingual China, where over 129 languages are spoken

(Sun, Hu, & Huang, 2007). Further, the answer to this question involves the rela-

tionship between the PRC’s language policy and identity construction, that is, the

role the PRC has expected language to play in the state’s efforts at shaping lin-

guistic and ethnic minorities’ awareness of who they are in this multicultural and

multilingual land. To answer this question critically and meaningfully, the chap-

ter examines how the PRC’s adoption of the Soviet model of multinational state

building and its home-grown model of an inclusive Chinese nation with diversity

(zhonghua minzu duoyuan yiti) have supported certain language ideologies and

orders in identity construction.