The language situation in Timor-Leste

Taylor-Leech, Kerry (2009) The language situation in Timor-Leste. Current Issues in Language Planning, 10 (1). pp. 1-68. ISSN 1466-4208


Timor-Leste celebrated its formal political independence on 20th May 2002. The National Constitution of the new nation declared the endogenous lingua franca (Tetum) and the former colonial language (Portuguese) to be co-official. The remaining local languages were given the status of national languages. Indonesian and English were designated as working languages ‘for as long as is deemed necessary’. In this monograph, I consider the origins and implications of these constitutional provisions. The paper consists of five parts.

1. A social and economic profile of the polity. This section also discusses migration, communications and the media in relation to language policy and practice.
2. A language profile of the country, followed by a discussion of diglossia, multilingualism, literacy and official language choice.
3. An account of the sociolinguistic consequences of language contact and an historical analysis of social policies and practices that have shaped the habitus.
4. A discussion and analysis of current language policy development in terms of goals, motives and orientations.
5. An assessment of the prospects for language maintenance with special reference to policy outcomes and options.

I advocate a rights-oriented approach to language management, arguing that in the absence of such an approach, ad hoc power relationships between languages will
continue to dominate social discourse and language politics.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Author version not held. Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher's copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Education (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2010 00:50
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2014 03:02
Uncontrolled Keywords: Timor Leste; language policy; language practices; literacy; multilingualism; diglossia; official languages; national languages
Fields of Research (2008): 16 Studies in Human Society > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160512 Social Policy
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2003 Language Studies > 200313 Indonesian Languages
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2004 Linguistics > 200405 Language in Culture and Society (Sociolinguistics)
Fields of Research (2020): 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4407 Policy and administration > 440712 Social policy
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4703 Language studies > 470312 Indonesian languages
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4704 Linguistics > 470411 Sociolinguistics
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture
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