September 8, 2021 in Language Translation, Localization, Translation

Language Discrimination: Facts and History

Discrimination in language
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The World is all about the shifting of power. When one country gains power over another country, the other country automatically loses all of it. This is synonymous with Colonization but colonization is not similar to it. Colonization is the ultimate rule by usurping the sovereignty of another country. This usurps of a nation’s sovereignty results in the utter domination of Western or Colonial Supremacy in the minds of the colonized reseluting in somehow language discrimination.

On the other side, invading a country and including it into your one territory is a completely different thing. Nevertheless, both of these measures are oppressive and result in different injustices, such as Language Oppression (also known as Language Discrimination). When dominant countries or empires, step into another country (preferably the one which is in political turmoil), they bring forth new ideas, culture, traditions, art, and language with the intention of colonization.

The preservation and promotion of indigenous languages are at the heart of discussions on language policy, seeking to overcome the language barrier that often hinders effective communication. In regions where Spanish accent predominates, English speakers may face challenges, sometimes encountering language-based discrimination.

Establishing a common language becomes crucial for fostering inclusivity and understanding. Linguistic rights, emphasizing the right to speak and preserve one’s native language, are pivotal in addressing such concerns. Striking a balance between major languages and ensuring the protection of indigenous languages is essential for creating a society where no one faces discrimination based on their spoken language. The recognition of linguistic diversity contributes to the cultivation of a world where each language, regardless of its status as a major or target language, is valued and respected.

Gradually, after having a strong grip over their colony’s politics, they enforce their religion, language, and beliefs into the minds of people. One of these beliefs that leaves a very drastic effect on the minds of colonized people is inferiority. This inferiority makes them believe that the culture, language, and beliefs of their colonizers are superior and they should adopt them. This also includes forced adoption of the new language, which we term as “Language Discrimination”.

The Slovak language law, reflecting efforts to standardize linguistic norms, parallels the challenges faced by other minority languages, such as Kurdish, in maintaining their distinctiveness. Regional accents, often markers of cultural identity, face potential standardization pressures.

The relationship between regional languages and government policies is a complex terrain, evident in the approaches of the Chinese and French governments. The recognition of linguistic rights as a part of human rights is crucial, as it safeguards the linguistic community from linguistic profiling and promotes diversity.

In places like Hong Kong, linguistic diversity is a sensitive issue amid political changes. Linguists like John McWhorter have critiqued linguistic imperialism, emphasizing the importance of preserving and respecting local languages. The punitive damages of colonial histories often manifest in language dynamics, as seen in the persistence of Standard English and colonial languages, reflecting the intricate interplay between language, power, and identity.

Minoritized speakers encounter linguistic complexities, a concern echoed globally, including in Japan, where the government navigates language policies. Examining historical linguistic shifts from the 16th to the 19th century, scholars like Jane H. Hill, published by Walter de Gruyter, shed light on language dynamics. In contemporary contexts, the medical community addresses language-related issues, with innovations like cochlear implants impacting linguistic experiences and expressions. These intersections of language, policy, and technology underscore the intricate tapestry of linguistic landscapes in diverse sociocultural settings.


Before we get into details about language discrimination, let us tell you some of its basics. The replacement of the native language of a nation by some other dominant language, by unethical means, is known as Language Discrimination.

causes language discrimination
effects language discrimination

Language discrimination can be frustrating. It is just another type of injustice upon which many people usually do not speak. A large number of Immigrants (especially Asian and African) face language discrimination in the Western world. It is very similar to Racial Injustice but it is in terms of linguistic expression instead of skin color. To know more, let’s dig in further about Language discrimination.

What Is Language Discrimination?

In simple words, Language Discrimination is when someone tries to impose his/her language onto others who don’t want to learn it. This unethical enforcement of one’s native language on to another person, such as an Immigrant from a non-English speaking country, as Language Discrimination.

General Americanis an exception; standard American is based on the speech of the upper Midwest. Urban dialects in the area have diverged somewhat from this standard in recent years; but the upper Midwestern dialect fans out and is the baseline speech for the entire West Coast, including California. This version of English, broadly defined, is the one heard from California-based media.

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eaking country, as Language Discrimination.

The most common example would be English being imposed on non-English speaking nations like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and aboriginal Australians, etc. This enforcement can either be physical or verbal. There are many cases where native speakers try to force their language on immigrants from foreign lands. For instance, if an immigrant comes from China, he will probably have only Chinese friends and family members in that country.

Linguistic discrimination, often manifested as accent discrimination, is a significant issue that affects individuals whose primary language is not the dominant one in a given area. When people are judged or treated unfairly because of their accent or their use of foreign languages, it can lead to severe personal and professional repercussions. In some jurisdictions, victims of such discrimination may seek punitive damages if the discriminatory acts are particularly malicious or reckless. This legal recourse aims to deter discriminators and address the injustices faced by those penalized for their linguistic characteristics.

Further Discussion

Language Discrimination is synonymous with linguistic discrimination, glottophobia, linguicism, and languagism. It is the unfair treatment of non-native speakers of a language. Language oppression is related to other types of national origin discriminations. To avoid language discrimination, before getting on board for international education, students are obliged to pass professional English tests. 

In the context of India, the linguistic diversity among non-Hindi speaking states has been a significant factor shaping the nation’s language policies. Drawing parallels, the historical influence of the Russian Empire and the contemporary dominance of American English reflect how language can be a tool of power. Carolyn McKinley’s work delves into the impact of linguistic ideologies, examining the consequences of a controversial amendment or the imposition of a standard language ideology.

Negative evaluations of certain linguistic varieties often contribute to discriminatory language practices, including language restrictions that marginalize specific communities. The scrutiny of language levels and the broader exploration of linguistic ideologies offer insights into the complex dynamics that influence language policies and attitudes in diverse sociolinguistic contexts.

The native speaker idealization, a pervasive concept in language learning, often influences language policies and perceptions, as seen in a student interview excerpt. Black students, particularly, may encounter challenges within the framework of language policy, where the native speaker idealization may not align with their linguistic backgrounds.

The imposition of an English-only policy further exacerbates these disparities, marginalizing linguistic diversity. Examining the dynamics between major languages and target languages in educational settings becomes essential to address inclusivity and foster an environment that respects and values linguistic variation among students.

The linguistic landscapes shaped by various governments highlight the complexities of language policies. The Chinese government, for instance, influences language practices within its borders, while the Kurdish language faces challenges in asserting its distinct identity. In Japan, governmental language policies navigate the coexistence of traditional linguistic elements and global influences. The Japanese government implements language policies that balance the preservation of linguistic traditions with the integration of global influences, a dynamic contrasted by the challenges faced by the Kurdish language in asserting its identity amid regional complexities.

Exploring historical contexts, the 16th century witnessed significant linguistic shifts, while the linguistic diversity within the Russian Empire underscores the influence of power dynamics. In contemporary times, the global dominance of American English raises questions about linguistic hegemony and the impact of a major language on diverse linguistic ecosystems. Together, these instances reflect the intricate relationship between political authorities and the languages spoken within their realms.

The Causes of Language Discrimination

Many factors contribute to this discrimination. All of these factors are language-related. To make it easier for you to understand, we have enlisted them below:

  • Accent: Accent plays a huge role in oral communication. The English language alone has many different accents such as the American accent and the British accent. Despite speaking the same language, individuals can be criticized or discriminated against for their accents. People living in countries where the English language is not the Official language, may not be able to produce a foreign accent naturally.
  • Pronunciation of Words: The incorrect pronunciation of some words can lead to language discrimination. Any individual who is a non-native speaker of the English language may sometimes not know which syllables are silent and which are not.
  • Expression: Expression is one of the most important characteristics of speech. The way an individual delivers a speech leaves a very significant effect on the audience. A person’s lack of proper expression may also lead to Language Discrimination.
  • Size of Vocabulary: A person who does not carry expert English communication skills may lack a plethora of words, of formal or commercial use. This person is the one whose primary language is not English. Not speaking the right words at the right time would lead to his linguistic discrimination. A vast vocabulary aids ineffective communication.
  • Grammatical Errors: The scarcity of grammatical errors demands good English skills. An individual should have good English proficiency to avoid grammatical errors. 

When Does It Happen?

Language Discrimination happens when an individual does not show proficiency in a foreign language such as the English language. Many international universities, schools, and colleges have a strict English-only policy.

facts language discrimination
language discrimination

International students that aim to study in such institutions are taught to master tests like IELTS to boost up their English proficiency. At international schools, the staff including the teachers are educated enough not to discriminate against any student based on their skin color, language, or ethnicity.

At the student level, it is not like this. Students, sometimes observe national origin discrimination (especially in terms of language) from their fellow students. We can prevent this. If we educate the younger generation, language discrimination can be minimized.

What Are the Effects of Language Discrimination?

Language discrimination leaves very negative and unpleasant effects on the minds of victims. It leaves long-lasting implications on the mental and emotional well-being of an individual. Minority children who face language discrimination are often distressed and it very harshly affects their academic and co-curricular activities. Children become shy, introverts and tend to speak as little as possible. Language discrimination also makes up a class level in a society based on their national origins.

Facts About Language Discrimination

Here, we are stating some facts about language discrimination that will help you understand it better:

  • Language discrimination is an unlawful and ethical act. It is categorized under bullying and can cause emotional trauma to someone.
  • It makes one language “privileged” and the other “unprivileged”. Language discrimination is the ultimate cause of death in many languages. It has led to the endangerment of some languages.
  • Such discrimination is illegal and condemned in many higher institutions.
  • It leaves a negative impression of the person who did it. A civilized individual avoids such kinds of acts.
  • This discrimination reflects the colonial era; thus, people discourage it.

Is Language Discrimination Illegal?

Yes! Everyone has equal rights concerning employment without being subjected to discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, political opinion, nationality, ethnic group, property, birth, or another status. In addition, Language discrimination categorizes under the class of unlawful discrimination known as national origin discrimination. It is illegal to prefer one language over another.

What To Do If Someone Linguistically Discriminates you? 

If someone linguistically discriminates against you, then there are certain steps you need to take. You must first understand what exactly happened. Then, if necessary, file a complaint against him/her.

How Can One Prevent such discrimination?

The best measure that we can take to prevent language discrimination is educating people about its consequences, especially the younger generation. Some people mimic the accent of a non-native speaker of their language to mock them or just as a joke. We can minimize language discrimination by holding such matters accountable.

Addressing language as a form of discrimination necessitates a nuanced understanding, especially in academic settings such as those found at the University of Chicago, Stanford University, Indiana University, and the University of California. While language studies thrive in diverse environments like Ann Arbor, the importance of language proficiency is often considered a business necessity in the academic world. These esteemed institutions contribute significantly to shaping perspectives on language and discrimination, emphasizing the need for inclusive policies and practices that value linguistic diversity within educational and professional spheres.

Wrap Up

To sum up, everything that we have stated so far, it is an unjust behavior to the minorities. It is unethical and people should not tolerate it at any cost. People should also learn how to treat each other equally regardless of their background. This way they would avoid making others feel inferior because of their language, race, religion, or ethnic origin.

linguistically discrimination

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