The power of top-down language planning: a comparative investigation of three European regions
The early research in language planning (LP), focusing on state-sponsored LP, has received justified criticism in the past decades: much of the investigation had presupposed a direct influence of LP decisions on language use, oversimplifying the complex notion of power. Much of the research therefore became oriented to micro-level LP, where researchers could first observe and then explain actual changes in linguistic behaviour. In this paper, I will argue that the state-sponsored LP is still a valuable research object and that, at this stage, it would be relevant to apply the comparative perspective. To abandon this state-sponsored LP without a proper comparative body of research would mean to leave the related fields without a clear picture of their scope and power in different countries. In this paper, this is illustrated with a comparison of the three Baltic, three Scandinavian, and four ex-Yugoslavian countries. The results show huge differences in power of state-sponsored LP, leading to the conclusion that more comparative research is necessary to fully grasp its scope and influence.