Language ecology


Albert Bastardas-Boada

Human linguistic phenomenon is at one and the same time an individual, social, and political fact. As such, its study should bear in mind these complex interrelations, which are produced inside the framework of the sociocultural and historical ecosystem of each human community.

Understanding this phenomenon is often no easy task, due to the range of elements involved and their interrelations. The absence of valid, clearly developed paradigms adds to the problem and means that the theoretical conclusions that emerge may be unclear on certain points. It is true that in the last fifty years sociolinguistic studies have advanced considerably, and today we have access to an impressive set of data and a wide variety of theoretical reflections. But as a discipline sociolinguistics does not yet have unified, powerful theoretical models able to account rigorously and clearly for the phenomena it studies.  Sociolinguistic studies are today a diverse set of contributions in which certain and theoretical schools and lines of research emerged; but as is to be expected in a relatively new field, there is not enough communication between the various schools and they cannot yet be said to be integrated in terms of their conceptual and theoretical postulates.

Against this background, our work aims to contribute to the overall, integrated understanding of the processes of language contact. Via an interdisciplinary, eclectic approach, it also aims to aid the theoretical grounding and integration of a unified, common sociolinguistic paradigm. Our strategy will not be merely to combine the contributions from ongoing research lines, but to address the question from a more global viewpoint which, together with the more innovative contemporary scientific disciplines, permits a harmonious integration of the various sociolinguistic perspectives in a broad, deep and unitary approach to the reality. The materials used to construct this unified approach are taken from many sources: Theoretical physics, ecology, the philosophy of science and mind, anthropology, phenomenological and process sociology, cognitive sciences, political science, pragmatics, history, systems theory, approaches to complexity and obviously sociolinguistics, are all involved in a dialogue in this desire for integration.

Unlike the traditional perspective that separates linguistic varieties from their bio-psycho-socio-politico-cultural contexts and makes of them specialized objects existing in a vacuum, the eco-sociolinguistic perspective is based on the fact that linguistic structures do not live in isolation from their social functions – the existence of matter is indissoluble from its activity, says Einstein. Equally, linguistic structures must be situated ecologically in relation with the sub- and supra-systems that determine their existence if we are to understand their vicissitudes – the unit of survival is the organism-in-its-environment, says Bateson. So our proposal aims to provide the basis of an integrative focus from the perspective of complexity – distinguer sans disjoindre (Morin) – which draws on the contributions of traditional approaches to the study of language systems, but goes beyond them to establish a vision that is more interrelated with the other coexisting sociocultural factors, thus permitting a better understanding of the linguistic  phenomenon as a whole.


Bastardas-Boada, Albert. Towards a complex-figurational socio-linguistics: Some contributions from physics, ecology and the sciences of complexity.

Bastardas Boada, Albert. Ecología y sostenibilidad lingüísticas: una aproximación desde la (socio)complejidad.

Bastardas-Boada, Albert. Complexitat i fenomen (socio)lingüístic

Bastardas-Boada, Albert. Ecodinámica sociolingüística: comparaciones y analogías entre la diversidad lingüística y la diversidad biológica.

Bastardas-Boada, Albert. Sociolinguistics: Towards a Complex Ecological View.

Bastardas-Boada, Albert. Linguistic sustainability for a multilingual humanity.


Bastardas-Boada, Albert. Towards a global model of linguistic ecology.

Bastardas-Boada, Albert. Biological and linguistic diversity: Transdisciplinary explorations for a socioecology of languages.

Bastardas-Boada, Albert.  Ecologia de les llengües. Medi, contactes i dinàmica sociolingüística.