chapter  4
Legitimating Limburgish
The Reproduction of Heritage
ByDiana M. J. Camps
Pages 18

This chapter examines the (re)production of heritage discourses in relation to processes of standardization and language legitimation. In 1997, Limburgish, formerly considered a dialect of Dutch, was acknowledged by local and national authorities as a regional language under the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages (ECRML). This treaty, under the auspices of the Council of Europe, provides the main framework for the protection and promotion of regional and minority languages as cultural heritage. The inclusion of Limburgish under the ECRML directed renewed focus to establishing and promoting spelling norms applicable to the various Limburgian dialects. Although the ECRML does not explicitly require standardization for languages protected under level II, this has been an area of significant activity, suggesting it plays a role in the local processes of language legitimation. The interest here is in demonstrating how policies decided at provincial or national level are taken up locally by social actors involved in language promotion. This investigation focuses on how a teacher in a local classroom appropriates an ideology of heritage to create legitimacy both for himself as a person with the authority to speak about prescriptive norms for Limburgish and for the local dialect. The data show that, in contrast to the heritage discourse articulated at European, national, and regional scales which valorizes Limburgish through discourses of shared heritage and language endangerment, at the local level, heritage also articulates with discourses of historicity and difference and is closely linked to a discourse of linguistic expertise. This chapter highlights how discourses entextualized in policy texts are taken up, adapted, and modified at the local scale to create legitimacy for Limburgish as a language.