While ethnic prejudices can be expressed in and through language, they are not, however, intrinsically linguistic in nature. They are, instead, supralinguistic concepts that become disguised as linguistic ones and imported into the theater of language. The pathways that facilitate this importation have been made by the repeated interconnections between the concept of language and the concept of race. In other words, language in the service of racism and ethnocentrism cannot occur without conceptualizing language and race in similar ways. Accordingly, the identification of language with race is not possible without the genetic misprisions that create the myth of race in the first place; thus a folkish notion of genetic ownership of language lies at the root of all ethnocentric linguistic prejudice: "our native" language, which is "our birthright", is seen as endangered by the presence of an other who is perceived as a biological contaminant and thus a threat to the matrix of nation, ethnicity, and language.
Bonfiglio, Thomas Paul. "Language, Racism, and Ethnicity." In Handbook of Language and Communication: Diversity and Change, edited by Marlis Hellinger and Anne Pauwels, 619-50. De Gruyter Mouton, 2007.
Copyright © 2007 De Gruyter Mouton. This chapter first appeared in Handbook of Language and Communication: Diversity and Change.
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