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  • Author or Editor: Bhim Lal Gautam x
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Abstract

This paper presents the relationship among Nepal’s linguistic diversity, multilingualism, and democratic practices by bringing into ideas from the global north and global south. The guiding question for exploring this relationship is, “why is Nepal’s linguistic diversity being squeezed despite the formulation of democratic and inclusive language policies that intended to promote multilingualism?”. To investigate this concern, qualitative data were obtained from semi-structured interviews with two purposively selected high-profile people working in the capacity of language policymaking in the state agencies. In Nepal, although democracy promoted awareness towards the issue of language rights and the need of preservation and promotion of minority languages, the narrowing of multilingual diversity continued in practice. This study concluded that democracy allowed neoliberal ideologies to penetrate sociolinguistic spaces and put greater emphasis on English and Nepali. While there is an intertwined relationship between linguistic diversity, democracy, and multilingualism, the ongoing democratic practices have become counterproductive in maintaining the linguistic diversity leading to the marginalization of minority and lesser-known languages. Also, despite ample literature documenting linguistic diversity as a resource and opportunity, the notions of ‘linguistic diversity’ and ‘multilingualism’ were utilized merely as political agendas and issues of critical discourses which have left negligible impact on changing the conventionalized practices of linguistic domination of Nepali and English. Therefore, we question the co-existence of diversity and democracy and claim that democracy alone does not necessarily contribute to the protection of linguistic diversity. In line with this concept, democratic practices could even be counterproductive in the promotion and protection of linguistic diversity. Our findings suggest future interventions about essentializing the use of minority languages in education and governance, alongside democracy providing the fertile grounds for policy pitches to address micro problems in maintaining multilingualism within a democracy.

Open Access
In: Bandung