Officiality and strategic ambiguity in language policy: Exploring migrant experiences in Andorra and Luxembourg

James W Hawkey, Kristine Horner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines de jure language officialization policies in Andorra and Luxembourg, and addresses how these are discursively reproduced, sustained or challenged by members of resident migrant communities in the two countries. Although the two countries bear similarities in their small size, extensive multilingualism and the pride of place accorded to the ‘small’ languages of Catalan and Luxembourgish respectively, they have adopted different strategies as regards according official status to the languages spoken there. We start by undertaking a close reading of language policy documents and highlight the ways that they are informed by ‘strategic ambiguity’, wherein certain key elements are deliberately left open to interpretation via a range of textual strategies. We then conduct a thematic analysis of individual speaker testimonies to understand how this strategic ambiguity impacts on the ways that speakers negotiate fluid multilingual practices while also having to navigate rigid monolingual regimes. In given contexts, these hierarchies privilege Catalan in Andorra and Luxembourgish in Luxembourg, particularly in relation to the regimentation of migrants' linguistic behaviour. In this way, the paper provides insights into the complex ideological fields in which small languages are situated and demonstrates the ways in which language policy is intertwined with issues of power and dominance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-215
Number of pages21
JournalLanguage Policy
Issue number2
Early online date7 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2022


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