What is Language Attitude?
According to the book written by Colin Barker, Attitudes and Language (1992). Attitude is generally defined as ‘a hypothetical construct used to explain the direction and persistence of human behavior’ and it has three distinct aspects; cognitive, affective and behavioral aspects (Barker, 1992).
Cognitive aspect refers to thoughts and beliefs. While affective aspect is related to feelings towards the attitude subjects. Lastly, behavioral aspect is related to behavioral intention or plan of action.
Barker has several approaches to look at the issue of language attitude and in this website two will be examined.
The first one is an input-output approach which place emphasis on the influences of attitude on language in both the input and output stream. Attitude, of course, could influence the status and acceptance of a language in a society. Yet, on the other hand, language could also play a role in influencing people's attitude towards a culture or identity. Therefore, this approach highlights the inter-relations between language and attitudes.
Another approach that suggested by Barker is defined as two components, an instrumental one and integrative one. The former suggests that attitudes with instrumental orientation would concern the pragmatic use of a language. While the latter concerns more on social and interpersonal orientation.
In the interviews we conducted about our subject, the Hakka minority group, one of the participants explicitly stated his language attitude towards his mother tongue in the integrative orientation. He believed that Hakka is a precious language that he wanted his offspring to learn because it is a sign that connect the people in the whole village together. Integrative attitude is a sentimental attachment to a particular language. However, in the opposite, all of the interviewees agreed that Hakka does not acquire any pragmatic value in the contemporary society of Hong Kong and therefore their instrumental attitudes are rather low.