READING THE SIGNS

Language Policy and Change in Post-PRC Tibet

Christine Kwon

ABSTRACT


This paper argues that the Tibetan and Chinese languages occupy different educational, economic, and political spaces in contemporary Tibetan society. It focuses on language issues and debates in the contexts of education, commerce and tourism, and government and politics, looking at concrete examples of language as it is used in various spheres - in other words, at functionality. The study examines the contemporary roles and use of Tibetan as compared to Chinese, supplementing a policy-based analysis with fieldwork conducted in July and August of 2009 on public signage in the TAR. The appropriation of the Tibetan language to certain roles has undermined growth more than it has than helped foster its intellectual and social development as a living language. This evaluation can shed light on both the future development of the Tibetan language and the relationship of and interactions between the Tibetans with the majority Han within the People's Republic.

Download this article (PDF)
<< Back to Contents, Volume 3, Spring 2010