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9. Publications of Interest

Some Encouraging Readings on Language Maintenance, by Nancy Dorian of Bryn Mawr College, Depts of German and Anthropology wrote in the LG-SHIFT mailing list on 22 November 1996:

The literature of language maintenance and language shift is a lot heavier on the shift end than on the maintenance end, as I expect everybody's well aware. For that reason I wanted to mention some literature that bears on the possibilities for maintenance, just to highlight it a bit.

· Roger Keesing, 1992, "Custom and confrontation: The Kwaio struggle for cultural autonomy" (U. of Chicago), details a case of determined retention of ancestral lifeways & language, but at tremendous cost to the people concerned.

Some less costly cases, then:
· Paul Kroskrity, 1993, "Language, history, & identity: Ethnolinguistic studies of the Arizona Tewa" (U. of Arizona).

· Juliana Flinn, 1992, "Diplomas & thatched houses: Asserting tradition in a changing Micronesia" (U. of Michigan).

· Asher Stern, 1990, 'Educational policy towards the Circassian minority in Israel', in Koen Jaspaert & Sjaak Kroon, "Ethnic minority lgs and education" (Swets & Zeitlinger, Amsterdam).

These cases are of interest because they involve indigenous peoples who've managed to retain their languages without major changes in their economic fortunes.

The next pair of cases involve peoples who've managed to turn sharply improving economic fortunes to their advantage:

· Rita Decime, 1994, 'Un projet de trilanguisme intÈgrÈ pour les enfants des Ècoles maternelles de la VallÈe d' Ayas', International Journal of the Sociology of Language 109; and

· Thomas Markey, 1988, 'Ladin and other relic language forms in the eastern Alpine region', in Jacek Fisiak, "Historical Dialectology" (Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin).

At the economically very high end:
· Kathryn Woolard & Tae Joong Gahng, 1990, 'Changing lg policies and attitudes in autonomous Catalonia, Language in Society 19.

And at the politically very high end:
· Per Langgaard, 1992, "Greenlandic is not an ideology, it is a language", in Nelson Graburn & Roy Iutzi-Mitchell, eds., "Language & educational policy in the North" (Berkeley Working Papers of the Canadian Studies Program, U. of California, Berkeley).

I should also mention:
· Leanne Hinton's paper, 'Survival of endangered languages: The California master-apprentice program' will appear in the first 1997 issue of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language, in the section on Small Languages & Small Language Communities. It's an excellent introduction to the program, since it doesn't assume any background in the languages involved and goes into a fair bit of detail about the teaching and learning methods used by masters and apprentices. MITWPL Papers on Endangered Languages

MIT Working Papers in Linguistics is pleased to announce the publication of its 28th volume of Working Papers, "Papers on Language Endangerment and the Maintenance of Linguistic Diversity". This volume, edited by Jonathan David Bobaljik, Rob Pensalfini, and Luciana Storto, grew out of a workshop series held at MIT in January 1995. The workshop placed a particular emphasis on the thorny question of 'what works in language maintenance?', and in addition to papers presented at the workshop the editors have collected papers from other authors recommended by presenters and a preliminary bibliography drawn from the extensive bibliographies provided by members of this list.

The contents of the volume are:
· Introduction (general questions of endangerment and survival) - Jonathan Bobaljik & Rob Pensalfini
· Can Senior Secondary Studies Help to Maintain and Strengthen Indigenous Languages ? - Antonio Mercurio and Rob Amery
· The Ulwa language wakes up - Thomas Green
· A report on language endangerment in Brazil - Luciana Storto
· Modern Irish: A Case Study in Language Revival Failure - Andrew Carnie
· Explaining and Reversing the Failure of the Irish Language Revival - Peter Slomanson
· Universal grammar and the roots of linguistic diversity - Ken Hale
· Language Endangerment & the Non-indigenous Minority Languages in the UK - Mahendra K. Verma
· Policy Statement: the need for the documentation of linguistic diversity - Linguistic Society of America
· A Preliminary Bibliography on Language Endangerment and Preservation - Jonathan Bobaljik, Rob Pensalfini & Luciana Storto

 

 

The volume costs US$12 (+postage/handling of $2-$3 surface, $5-$12 air) and can be ordered from MIT Working Papers in linguistics by writing to them at MITWPL, MIT Room 20D-219, Cambridge MA02139, USA or by sending email to MITWPL(at)MIT.EDU.

Scott Palmer, Jaap Feenstra: on the Dynamics of Language Shift

On 20 Sep 1996, Robert_Jackson(at)SIL.ORG wrote to the LG-SHIFT Mailing List:

Scott Palmer has written an important paper on the subject of language shift and decline. The paper, "The Language of Work, and the Decline of North American Languages", "explores the possibility that, for North America, there is a general, external pattern of events which is setting the stage for language shift. It is catalytic to a change with regard to language, but it does not have as its central focus the issue of language."

It presents "The language-of-work hypothesis" which proposes "that the widespread pattern of language shift among indigenous communities in North America has its roots in a change in the language of work for these communities. "This change in the language of work has been the result of key developments in the economic structure of the dominant society, changes in how indigenous community members relate to that structure, and ultimately changes in the ways in which the community organizes work. "This change in the structure of work has a direct bearing on the lives and thoughts of the parents of young children. Their desire and role is to prepare their children for life. As it becomes increasingly necessary for community members to work at jobs that require the use of the dominant language, this results in revised perceptions on the part of parents regarding what training their children need in order to survive. So they talk to them in the national language instead of the indigenous language, and the children grow up as first-language speakers of the national language.

You can obtain it in either the RTF (Rich Text Format) format. In order to get the full article you need to send a message to:
mailserv(at)sil.org

You should NOT put anything in the Subject: window. In the TEXT window place the following command

send [LG-SHIFT]49PLMER.rtf

Then on 21 Jan 1997, Bob came back with the following offer:

Things have quieted down on the Language Shift List after the activity that Scott's paper introduced. Shortly after Scott's paper was made available, Jaap Feenstra sent a paper to me in response to Scott's paper which is equally interesting. The title is Language Shift_a Value-driven Complex in a Changing Environment. You may down-load it by sending to the address:
MAILSERV(at)SIL.ORG
the command:
send [lg-shift]jaapfe97.rtf

The introduction to the paper reads as follows:

This paper is written as a result of reading Scott Palmer's paper, The Language of Work, and the Decline of the North American Languages, and it evolved from my reactions to his earlier drafts. Time has not allowed me to do extensive research on the subject, but over the years I have given this whole issue considerable thought, and the experience of having been raised in a bilingual Frisian-Dutch setting has been of great benefit to me. (I will attach a write-up on the Frisian language situation as an appendix.)

In explaining the phenomenon of language shift many people have looked for a dominant factor, be it the residential school system, modern media (radio, TV, etc.) or the language of the economy. There are advantages in postulating hypotheses that relate everything to one factor, as it brings some order into the complexity of language shift. However, I believe that in the end it is more beneficial to look at the whole complex of value and environmental change. In essence I believe that language shift is a value-driven complex_a value-driven complex in a changing environment. I admit, in looking at language shift, there is a continual interplay of environmental factors and value factors and I believe that in the majority of cases the value factors carry the greater weight.

Contents.