Language and Human Rights

The details
Language and Linguistics
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 14 January 2019
Friday 22 March 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module articulates empirical, comparative sociolinguistic views of language use and conflicts within speech communities, contextualizing them within a human rights perspective.
We problematize the ways in which broad social categories (including ethnicity, class, nationality, gender, race, indigenous and regional origin) intersect with ways in which language is used to claim statuses and negotiate conflicts. Such associations are problematic – both practically for speakers (and signers) asserting or negotiating their social identity, access to services, and human rights (political, civil, social, cultural and economic); and theoretically for scholars investigating areas such as citizenship and political participation, (im)migration, indigenous peoples and cultures, language extinction, globalization, maintenance/crossing of ethnic boundaries, mass media discourse, the construction of gender ideologies, literacy and development, equal opportunity in the workplace, etc.
This module surveys important topics in human rights, focusing on the types of conflicts which occur around language, considering the principles upon which they can be understood and investigated, and examining efforts at solutions, as well as locating attempts to identify and make language rights manifest within a broad context of national and international agreements.


This module aims to introduce and address key questions within the field, including:
* What are language rights/linguistic human rights?
* Can they be grouped around key concepts such as diversity? Identity? Vitality?
* What sorts of conflicts occur around language? Why?
* What sorts of resolutions are often attempted? What are the roles of language planning and language policy in such efforts?
* Do language rights qualify as (basic) human rights? Which ones? Why?
* Are human rights essentially linguistic in nature? How? In whole or in part?
* How are language rights negotiated in institutional contexts such as the courts? Government policy? Legislation? Schools? Healthcare providers? National and international bodies and organisations?

Learning Outcomes:

1. For Linguistic & other students: control basic concepts and resources in studying Human Rights, as far as they interact with language issues
2. For Human Rights & other students: basic understanding of socio-linguistic perspectives and principles, as far as they interact with language rights
3. Identify, document and explore common types of language conflicts that potentially involve human rights violations
4. Investigate language policy, planning and other attempts at resolving language issues which impinge on individual and group human rights
5. Familiarise students with basic documents and resources concerning the nature of language rights vis-à-vis other human rights

Module aims

No information available.

Module learning outcomes

No information available.

Module information

Module is designed for students who have some knowledge of either linguistics or human rights; nobody is expected to be familiar with both areas. Advanced technical linguistic or HR/legal knowledge is not required for this interdisciplinary module.
Coursepage to contain all key materials: http://orb.essex.ac.uk/lg/lg674/

Learning and teaching methods

Lecture and seminar formats, 2 hours per week over 10 weeks in Term 2. Occasional guest lecturer as appropriate.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay - 3000 words  18/04/2019  100% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
0% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Peter Patrick, email: patrickp@essex.ac.uk.
Professor Peter Patrick
Professor Peter Patrick, Email: patrickp@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

Prof Jane Helen Stuart-Smith
The University of Glasgow
Professor Phonetics and Sociolinguistics
Dr Maciej Baranowski
University of Manchester
Senior Lecturer in English Sociolinguistics
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Language and Linguistics

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