Language ideologies and discourses of national identity in Canadian newspapers: a cross-linguistic corpus-assisted discourse study
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The idea that Canada consists of “two solitudes” (MacLennan, 1945), according to which the two dominant (English and French) linguistic groups live in separate worlds with little interaction or communication, has also received attention in sociolinguistic circles (e.g. Heller, 1999). This thesis examines this claim further, by comparing the content of English and French Canadian newspapers. More specifically, the thesis compares how English and French serve different purposes in three coexisting conceptualisations of national identity in Canada: Quebec national identity, English Canadian national identity, and pan-Canadian national identity. In each corresponding national identity discourse, the nation and its language(s) are imagined differently. With a corpus of 7.5 million words in English and 3.5 million words in French, the thesis employs corpus linguistics and discourse analysis tools to test the salience of these ideologies and discourses, as well as to compare and contrast findings across languages. Adopting the theoretical framework of language ideologies (e.g. Woolard, 1998; Milani and Johnson, 2008), it seeks to contextualise languages with regard to discourses of national identity. In other words, the thesis compares and contrasts language ideology findings within the three discourses examined. More specifically, three research questions are addressed: (1) How do the French and English Canadian media discursively represent languages and language issues in the news? (2) How do these representations differ? (3) How do the different representations relate to understandings of national identity in Canada? The findings indicate that French and English serve predominantly different purposes, thus helping to reinforce the image of a Canada comprising “two solitudes”.
- Theses