Joseph Lo Bianco is Professor Emeritus at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. Prior to his current role, he was Chief Executive of the National Languages and Literacy Institute of Australia.
From 2011-2017, Joseph served as Research Director of the UNICEF Language and Peacebuilding initiative in Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand, and as Senior Research Advisor for the European Commission project Languages in urban communities: Integration and Diversity for Europe (LUCIDE).
In his work he supports international research projects in several countries on language planning, multiculturalism and intercultural education and also advises on language, culture and literacy education, the integration of indigenous and immigrant children into mainstream schools, and reconciliation and peace through education.
Joseph combines research studies with practical intervention to help people affected by conflict to promote social cohesion and peace-building. He has published extensively, with over 32 books and 130 articles and chapters. His research interests also include Asian studies and Italian language and cultural history.
Prof. Lo Bianco brought to attention the wide array of what is encompassed by DLC, and develops material illuminating DLC in language policy and planning, script/orthography, and related areas. Prof. Lo Bianco supervises the research on DLC in Malaysia, Tunisia and Australia , but also in North America.
Excerpts from Joseph Lo Bianco's works on DLC:
"The Dominant Language Constellation is an important notion that should be applied to such settings to build a more accurate picture of communicative life in contemporary societies. It can replace obsolete ideas that nations and individuals are monolingual or that ordinary communication is typified by use of rigidly discrete and separately bounded languages. The DLC can build a shared stock of concepts about language in society between public officials and scholars whereas other analytical approaches to multilingualism have less traction of this sort" (Lo Bianco 2020, p. 266).
"It [DLC]now robustly includes individuals but also groups, institutions within societies as well as whole societies, and sub-national parts or regions, of states. These overlap in the organic way that all human organization functions, but not in predictable or uniform ways, since any specific DLC is the outcome of historical processes of particular societies, and biographical ones for individuals. As the outcome of new linguistic dispensations, forged by pressure between past processes and current pressures, a DLC is always unique and at the same time intimately connected to the diachronic flow from which it emerges and the synchronic context in which it currently functions. A DLC has valency to the extent and for as long as its user, the individual or group, finds practical effect in its whole structure (Lo Bianco 2020, p.274).
"A DLC does not simply account for the observable presence of a cluster of tightly connected languages in the lives of individuals and institutions. Rather, as an analytical unit within multilingual studies, the DLC concept empirically studies the behaviors of groups who construct clusters of the most important vehicle languages for themselves and forge these into a coherent meaningful whole. This allows analysts to discuss the impact of multilingualism on social arrangements in ways that are politically realistic, and linked to how policy makers intuitively imagine such arrangements through their own forms of praxis as power-holding officials responsible for the management of public affairs"(Lo Bianco 2020, p.38).
Joseph Lo Bianco on Language Policy and DLC
discusses the theory and practice of language policy and its connections, actual and potential, with the DLC. He explores policy making as forms of argument and policy as political action and reveals two sets of DLCs in dynamic tension: the policy makers intended ‘ideal state’ and the policy makers’ perceived ‘problem state’. The difference between what socio-linguistically empirically exists in the demography, as perceived by different interests, is the problem state. The intended, resolved, linguistic dispensation is the ideal state. These vary in the perception, political ideology, and level of information according to different interests. He argues that the concept of DLC holds the promise of aligning academic understandings of DLC more closely with those more commonly found among public officials and the wider non-specialist community, and argues that DLCs offer a potential increase in the traction that multilingualism research could have in the realm of public policy.
Joseph Lo Bianco on Extending the DLC (Lo Bianco 2020, pp.48-49)
Lo Bianco proposes the extension of the DLC concept to incorporate script and orthography issues.
An examination of the history of the Vietnamese orthography reform and repudiation of colonial language imposition is explored briefly to provide a diachronic account of a DLC as it was historically constructed, and to recommend the expansion of the concept of DLC to incorporate orthography.
The three writing systems that were in play in the final centuries of this period were Chu nho or Chu Han; Chu Nom or Nom; and the Chu Quoc Ngu or Quoc Ngu, and the effective sequencing between them is as follows:
• Chu Han was based on traditional Han Chinese characters, and originated in southern China. It was introduced into northern modern-day Vietnam through the expansion of Chinese rule, and then dominated for hundreds of years under the local dynastic monarchies that succeeded it;
• The Chu Nom rival was developed as an indigenous form of the Chu Han, the two were used concurrently, often in opposition to each other, for a period of 800 years;
• The Quoc Ngu romanized script was devised by Portuguese and French Catholic missionaries in the mid 1700s, originally devised as a tool to assist their learning of the Vietnamese language, especially noted for its extensive diacritics as tone pronunciation guides. Since 1945 Quoc Ngu has been broadly accepted as the national script and employed in all levels of education.
These scripts are associated variously with spoken languages, Classical Chinese and later Mandarin Chinese, with various vintages of standard northern and also later central and southern varieties of spoken Vietnamese, and with French. In effect a DLC extended in time and was asymmetrically acquired by educated administrators, court officials and literati, and others, but not beyond these elite circles. The patterns of communication under colonial rule, Chinese or French, were always diglossic with Vietnamese forms as L and the imposed foreign spoken languages H. Within this however the historical record shows an orthographic nested arrangement (a “script cluster”) of the 3 different writing systems (Lo Bianco 2001), that at various stages of history have occupied usage in different areas of society, and have served distinctive and often antagonistic socio-political, religious and cultural interests.