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THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE DEATH

THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE DEATH

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THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE DEATH

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  1. THE NATURE OF LANGUAGE DEATH Summary of David Crystal (2000). Language death. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dr. Alicia Pousada 2007

  2. I. What is language death? • The language pool • The size of the problem • Levels of danger

  3. II. Why should we care? • Because we need diversity • Because languages express identity • Because languages are repositories of history • Because languages contribute to the sum of human knowledge • Because languages are interesting in themselves

  4. III. Why do languages die? • Factors which put people in physical danger • Natural disasters leading to death or destruction of habitat • Disease (especially AIDS) • Economic exploitation • Political conflict leading to civil war, ethnic murder, or genocide

  5. Factors which change the people’s culture • Cultural assimilation • Military dominance • Urbanization • Media • Bilingualism • Opposition

  6. Stages of assimilation • Immense pressure on people to speak dominant language • Emerging bilingualism (point at which L1 can be saved) • Shift on part of younger generation • L2 along with shame at using L1 • self-conscious semilingualism L2 monolingualism

  7. Bilingualism as salvation • Dominant language used for outward movement • Dominated language used for inward identity (preserves pedigree) • Healthy bilingualism has 2 languages as complementary not competing • Requires changes in attitudes

  8. Forms of opposition • Open antipathy from governments that see linguistic diversity as divisive-suppression and punishment • Indifference • Folklorization of indigenous languages • Language murder vs. language suicide

  9. Australian aborigines 1910

  10. Australian “lost generation” (1912-1969)

  11. Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls Training Home

  12. IV. Where do we begin?

  13. Establishing top priorities • Information gathering • Establishing of general theoretical framework • Bottom-up and top-down initiatives • Long term campaign on many fronts simultaneously

  14. Language protests in India

  15. Fostering positive community attitudes • Negative attitudes very common among small language speakers • Need to understand reasons for these

  16. Vital to deal with basic physical needs of people before language issues

  17. Role of outsiders • Outsiders have important role in seeing more objectively the language issues and bringing linguistic expertise—also training native linguists

  18. Need for language awareness efforts & preventive linguistics to annihilate linguistic apathy (cf. disease prevention) • Dispelling of myths about language learning • Raising of morale, prestige, self-esteem without falling into elitism

  19. Promoting authenticity of community • All varieties must be recognized • Native speakers must be prepared for changes to language as it expands and takes in outside influences—if not, younger generations won’t continue to use it • Unyielding traditionalism and purism will lead to death • Core of language rescue must be in community and families

  20. Seeing language as part of culture • Issues of group membership and role of language in same • Possibility of cultural continuity despite language shift • Language as pre-eminent but not exclusive badge of ethnicity • Important to provide support for cultural milieu of language

  21. Above all--Need for careful planning

  22. V. What can be done? • Factors which contribute to minority language maintenance • Vary from community to community • Most common • Geographical isolation • Economic self-sufficiency • Little intermarriage • Strong community involvement in education

  23. Most common factors cont… • Strong government policies regarding language protection • Sympathy from language majority population • Presence of professional linguists to render assistance Professor Juan de Dios Yapita Moya, Bolivian linguist and Aymara speaker.

  24. Crystal’s postulates for theory of language revitalization Endangered languages progress if speakers: • Increase prestige within dominant community • Increase wealth relative to dominant community • Increase legitimate power in eyes of dominant community • Have strong presence in educational system • Can write language down • Can make use of electronic technology

  25. Akira Yamamoto’s factors that help maintain and promote small languages (see pp. 143-4)

  26. Lynn Landweer’s indicators of ethnolinguistic vitality ( p. 144 )

  27. Role of linguist • Diagnosis and assessment—determination of priorities • Description and analysis—creation of corpus • Intervention and re-assessment • Consideration of people, not just language • Problems of physical danger and interference from opposing forces—very political act

  28. Revitalization team • Only community can ultimately save language • Steps to take (see p. 155-6) • Teamwork necessary • Care to protect and not exploit ownership of language materials

  29. Recent demonstrations on Mother Tongue Day by speakers of the Hindko language in Peshawar, Pakistan, a population of 3,000,000 speakers as of 1993.

  30. Cases of exemplary language revival • Hebrew in Israel • Kaurna in Australia • Cornish in the U.K.

  31. Hebrew Eliezer ben Yehudah, Jerusalem, 1921

  32. Kaurna

  33. German missionaries, Clamor Schürmann and Christian Teichelmann, learned and described the Kaurna language. In 1839, they published a grammar, vocabulary of about 2,000 words, and about 200 translated sentences.

  34. Cornish Reduction of Cornish-speaking areas 1300-1750

  35. Types of Cornish • “Unified Cornish” (1935)-- drawn from Robert Morton Nance’s first full set of grammars anddictionaries • “Kemmyn” (1986)—revisions made by Ken George which dealt with spelling, pronunciation and lexical problems--utilized by Cornish Language Board which has produced most language activity—most common today • “Late Cornish” (1990)– developed by Richard Gendall based on modern vernacular and written forms.

  36. Conclusion • Need for linguistics departments to make language rescue an intrinsic part of training of students • Need for funds to be raised and allocated • Time is running out