Revisiting Orientations in Language Planning: Problem, Right, and Resource as an Analytical Heuristic

Francis M. Hult, Nancy H. Hornberger


In 1984, Richard Ruiz set forth three orientations to language planning: language as problem, language as right, and language as resource. Since that time, the orientations have only become more powerful, rising to the level of paradigm in the field of language policy and planning (LPP). In this paper, we revisit Ruiz’s orientations. By drawing upon Ruiz’s own work as well as the work of other scholars who have been inspired by him, we unpack the ideas aligned with each orientation in order to reflect upon the application of the three orientations as a heuristic for LPP. In contrast to critiques that the three orientations do not map onto the political reality of policy situations, we argue that they are analytically useful as both etic concepts that can be used by researchers to guide deductive analysis about the values that emerge from messy policy debate and negotiation and as (latent) emic concepts in situations when people express their beliefs about language.

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