[X] Anthropological Linguistics

[ Index of Recent Volumes | Previous Issue | Next Issue | Order ]

Vol. 52, no. 2 (Summer 2010)


Special Issue:
The Sociolinguistics of Language Endangerment


Contents

Introduction David Bradley 119

Language Endangerment and Resilience Linguistics: Case Studies of Gong and Lisu David Bradley 123

Take Care of the Poets! Verbal Art Performances as Key Factors in the Preservation of Kalasha Language and Culture Pierpaolo Di Carlo 141

"Brainwash from English"? Barunga Kriol Speakers' Views on Their Own Language Maïa Ponsonnet 160

The Role of Social Networks in Endangered Language Maintenance and Revitalization: The Case of Guernesiais in the Channel Islands Julia Sallabank 184

Recollecting Words and Expressions in Aasá, a Dead Language in Tanzania Sara Petrollino and Maarten Mous 206

Cultural Ecologies of Endangered Languages: The Cases of Wawa and Njanga Sascha Sebastian Griffiths and Laura Robson 217


Abstracts

Language Endangerment and Resilience Linguistics: Case Studies of Gong and Lisu

David Bradley
La Trobe University

Abstract. Resilience thinking is a new approach to the understanding of complex ecological and social interactions and changes that is also relevant for our response to the processes of change that occur in language endangerment. Many communities around the world are in or approaching a tip phase of language endangerment, involving drastic changes in language ability, structure, and use, as well as the loss of a great deal of other traditional knowledge. A resilience approach, empowering the community and giving it the respect, control, and resources to document and use its traditional knowledge and make its own decisions about language, may allow many groups to achieve a new stability in the face of linguistic and cultural globalization and top-down language policies. Case studies from the Gong community in Thailand and the Lisu community in China, Burma, Thailand, and India illustrate the processes involved. Local initiative, with support from linguists and local authorities, appropriate training and facilitation, and provision of appropriate materials, can stabilize or even reverse an apparently terminal situation.

Take Care of the Poets! Verbal Art Performances as Key Factors in the Preservation of Kalasha Language and Culture

Pierpaolo Di Carlo
University at Buffalo, State University of New York

Abstract. Unlike all the neighboring societies within the Hindu Kush region, the Kalasha still practice a pre-Islamic religion of Vedic origin. The process of culture maintenance finds in the ancestral language an irreplaceable symbolic resource for identity purposes. This, in turn, determines that those Kalasha who convert to Islam are inclined to repudiate their fathers’ language. Culture and language maintenance are clearly interdependent processes; hence, it is important to identify the loci of reproduction of Kalasha culture. Ritual and verbal art performances occupy a central role in this perspective. This unsurprising result is accompanied by a much less predictable suggestion—a contrastive analysis of topic coding devices in ordinary and poetic discourses indicates that it is during verbal art performances that Kalasha poets reframe their traditional eschatology, thus providing an essential motivation for an endangered enclave to continue bearing the burden of being unique.

“Brainwash from English”? Barunga Kriol Speakers’ Views on Their Own Language

Maïa Ponsonnet
Australian National University Centre de recherche et de documentation sur l’Océanie, Marseille

Abstract. This article deals with the sociolinguistics of Kriol, an English-lexifier creole widely used among Aboriginal people in the north of the Northern Territory in Australia. Some views and ideologies about their own language expressed by four first-language Barunga Kriol speakers in a series of speech interactions are presented, and possible interpretations are suggested, based on understanding of speakers’ local and personal backgrounds as well as sociolinguistic and historical clues. While the youngest speaker was somewhat critical of Kriol, older and middle-aged speakers expressed affection and pride for it, even though their depiction of Kriol as “in between” English and traditional Aboriginal languages was in line with the youngest speaker’s views. One must be cautious about drawing general conclusions from such a small number of cases, but two possible factors triggering the discrepant evaluations may be the older speakers’ greater awareness of the history of Kriol and of its recognition as a respectable language and their mastery of ancestral Aboriginal languages.

The Role of Social Networks in Endangered Language Maintenance and Revitalization: The Case of Guernesiais in the Channel Islands

Julia Sallabank
School of Oriental and African Studies, London

Abstract. Numerous studies have found that high-density, “traditional” social networks correlate with the use of low-status or local language varieties. Why some people maintain an ancestral language and transmit it to their children, while others abandon it, is a major issue in the study of language endangerment. This study focuses on Guernesiais, the endangered indigenous language of Guernsey, Channel Islands. Baseline data were collected using a questionnaire and semistructured interviews; ethnographic methods then shed light on ideologies, attitudes, and the processes of language shift. Availability of interlocutors correlates strongly with fluency, for both native speakers and learners, but the increasing age and linguistic isolation of many native speakers contributes to both individual and societal language loss, along with other factors. Options for supporting (or reconstituting) social networks through language planning are examined.

Recollecting Words and Expressions in Aasá, a Dead Language in Tanzania

Sara Petrollino
Leiden University

Maarten Mous
Leiden University

Abstract. Aasá, a Cushitic language, was formerly spoken by a hunter-gatherer community that constitutes a servant group to the Maasai in northern Tanzania. Given that none of the ethnic Aasá surveyed in this study had ever spoken this language, their memory of it is remarkable and raises questions about how it is remembered. In this article, we consider what our corpus of collected data reveals about the patterns of recollection of Aasá and compare these patterns with similar instances of lexical retrieval in second-language attrition. The divergent recollection patterns identified in our study can be explained within the context of the historical reconstruction of language shift from Aasá to Maasai. We conclude that the data collected represent the vestiges of a stage of the shift at which Aasá was no longer a full-fledged language.

Cultural Ecologies of Endangered Languages: The Cases of Wawa and Njanga

Sascha Sebastian Griffiths
University of Kent

Laura Robson
University of Kent

Abstract. The study of endangered languages can reveal interesting information about how languages adapt to changes in the environment of their speakers and particularly to changes in their culture. This article introduces two understudied Cameroonian languages at different stages of endangerment: Wawa (endangered) and Njanga (moribund). Njanga has been replaced by a related dialect (Sundani) and Wawa is threatened by the dominant Fulfulde language and is undergoing gradual and unexpected changes in reaction to the threat. A language ecology perspective is employed to examine data on numerals, color terms, and days of the week.


Last updated: 1 Mar 2011
URL: http://www.indiana.edu/~anthling/v52-2.html
Comments: anthling@indiana.edu
Copyright © 2011 Anthropological Linguistics.