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Week 15: (April 11 – April 17) Language Death

by: Ricardo Rauseo

Week 15: (April 11 – April 17) Language Death ANT3620

Marketplace > University of Florida > anthropology, evolution, sphr > ANT3620 > Week 15 April 11 April 17 Language Death
Ricardo Rauseo
GPA 3.8

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These notes cover what we saw on Week 15: Language Death
Language and Culture
Sean King
Class Notes
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This 8 page Class Notes was uploaded by Ricardo Rauseo on Sunday April 17, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to ANT3620 at University of Florida taught by Sean King in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 11 views. For similar materials see Language and Culture in anthropology, evolution, sphr at University of Florida.

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Date Created: 04/17/16
Monday, April 11, 2016 Recap  Foucault Discipline & Punish: how the West changed its relations of disciplinary power o Technologies and techniques of power increased with scientific understanding o Soul/body binary underwent serious change public spectacle of discipline to private concealment of discipline  Christian theory of person in the West o Body is prison of soul o Criminal behavior seen as a moral sickness of the body that had to be cured o Prison/discipline must be centered on curing the soul, or mind, so the body will not act out in criminal ways Bourdieu — Language and Symbolic Power  Of course, he begins with a major critique: o Linguistic models are used in social sciences because language thought of as a symbolic code to read. o Nope! o Language needs to be thought of as a vehicle for action and power  Linguistic exchanges reveal the social/power differences but also constitute and reinforce them discourse.  The asymmetry is what causes the discourse. Economy of Symbolic Exchange — The “Market”  Bourdieu uses the term “economy” to refer to the circulation of discourse and linguistic symbols in a society  2 aspects to this symbolic power market o There are proper ways of speaking o These proper ways are mediated by social classes that have their own censorships and rules  Bourdieu believes knowing the grammar of a language is only half of it you must know the social fields  The market shapes not only symbolic value of words and meanings, but the discourse surrounding them. o Prescriptions on how to talk about symbols, values, moral codes, etc.  Style: o Exactly the same as “speech genre” o Refers to local distinctions of saying and doing The Market and Discourse  It is not just language that circulates within a society, but discourse.  There are multiple meanings for each sign in the market: polysemy. o E.g. family, love, etc. can have opposite meanings in the same market o Major reason polysemy develops: social distinctions, a.k.a. social classes. o “There are no innocent words” Hidden Correspondence (Bourdieu’s Absence)  Symbolic efficacy why does language fail?  Bourdieu sees symbolic efficacy failing when there is a discontinuity between the social structure (class) and social field (profession, age group, peer group, etc.)  Exactly like absence! o Difference between Derrida and Bourdieu is communication (Derr.) vs. social class (Bour.)  Political and religious discourses similar in that they: o “produce statement formally impeccable but semantically empty.” o Cultures view “law” and “right forms of speech” as synonymous phenomena.  “The right utterance claims what ought to be right”  People begin to misrecognize that their verbal repertoires are both “low class” and criminal o “the most rigorously rationalized law is never anything more than an act of social magic which works”. Wednesday, April 13, 2016 The Linguistic Situation  Basic problems with knowledge: o What defines “language”? o Hegemony of “official languages” o Many of those deemed “endangered” only found in remote places o Lack of written scripts past 500 years saw massive language death Numbers of Language Death  About 10 languages constitute half the world’s speaking population o These are “native” speakers only  94% of world’s languages spoken by less than 6% of human population  Approximations  different figures depending  Linguistic “hotspots”: o Refers to spaces of intense linguistic diversity o Example: Saudi Arabia (9 Semitic languages) vs. Papua New Guinea (approx. 860 languages, multiple language families. Why do Languages Die? o Sometimes natural causes (volcanic eruptions, famine, disease) wipe out communities of speakers o Political and cultural reasons: dominant forms of discourse create a negative language ideology o Native American and US Bureau of Indian Affairs “schools” o Welsh school flogging “Welsh not” badges o “Ideology of contempt”: how speakers view a less-dominant language. What Happens to Language When it “Dies”?  Most languages in the face of extinction tend towards grammatical simplification  Speakers have fewer opportunities to use syntax and morphology become simplified o E.g. Dyitbal (Australian) pre-colonial had 4-part noun classification  now just has 2  Creolization usually takes place as well, with large number of loan words. Categories/Stages of Language Extinction  Michael Krauss: o Safe: languages that have official recognition and/or more than 100,000 speakers o Endangered: Learned by children but not likely to be passed on in the next generation o Moribund: Children no longer learning language o Extinct: No longer spoken  Only 10% of world’s languages considered “safe”. Critiquing Language Death  Problematic assumptions about language death  Use of numbers creates a colonial agenda technology of domination (Foucault). o Conveniently “leaving out” certain languages in the count furthers marginalization  Enumeration: o How to define language and death? o What is the metric of “partial” or “bilingual” and its relation to the statistics on rates of death?  E.g. is a person who is considered by the researcher “partial” counted among native speakers? Or left out? Why?  Research agendas: example o Ethnologue widely cited for its counting and recognition of different languages o But their primary purpose its to create Bibles in all said languages! o Ultimate index to their “ethnologue” is American English.  English dominates as the ultimate source of translation  Multiculturalism problems: o “Saving culture” but for whom? Does their language “belong” to you? Language Extinction: What Happens?  Harrison and Crystal: o Human knowledge loss  Knowledge of natural world: species unknown to biologists known to native speakers.  Knowledge of sustainable resources management o Cultural heritage loss  Myths, stories, ways of being all unknown without knowing a language o Cognitive research opportunities lost  Some languages so unusual they break with standard/accepted “universals” (Chomsky) Using biology as justification  Analogy of species to language has drawn criticisms  Essentialize nature, language and native speakers o They are valorized, seen as “of the land” and represent a time where man and nature were closer o Exoticized a made simplistic stereotyped about their life patterns and worldviews.  Speaking a language and being a language –a culture- are not always the same, especially in multilingual communities. Language Ideologies  Languages ideologies have a prominent place in discourse surrounding language death  Homogeneity and revitalization efforts: o Assume standard practice when there are none o Natives resist outsider opinion on “true” nature of their language  “Endangered” vs. politics: o Rhetoric of English-Only movement proposes that American English is “endangered”  Over 300 million native speakers o Differences between “change” and “loss”? Language Endangerment Case Studies: China & S.E. Asia  Looks at different endangered languages and their respective places  Major problems: o Classification by national governments o Dominant language ideologies vs. local customs o National boundaries recognize difference when there isn’t one. MK Languages — Aslian Example  Part of the larger Austroasiatic Family o Indigenous to mainland Southeast Asia o Only Vietnamese and Cambodian given national status o All others are endangered to some degree  Aslian Language Group: o Spoken by the Orang Asli ethnic group o Endangered because of Malay migration into their territories. o Continuously dominated by Malay speakers o 2007 church destroyed by the local government sued the state, unresolved.  Animist culture vs. dominant Islam and Christian religious cultures of Malaysia. Austra-Thai Languages — Kadai Example  The Kadai languages are the northern eastern groups in southern China, and northern Vietnam and Laos  These languages are highly endangered: o Communities live in heavily forested, mountainous areas. o Huge populations with very low speaking rates  Hundreds of thousands of people, fewer than a thousand can actually speak indigenous language.  Chinese, Vietnamese of Hmong being spoken instead.  Chinese linguistic authorities don’t recognize their language family. o Mandarin is part of an entirely separate language family! o Historical linguistics losing valuable data o History of state repression by northern Chinese authority Sino-Tibetean Languages — Loloish Example  Loloish forms related to Burma and found in southwest China. o Yunnan area in China holds these highly endangered languages o Spoken by the Yi people o About 50 languages in this group are moribund about to go extinct  Incredible cultural heritage within hegemonic Chinese state: o Produced their own script, based off northern Chinese o Bimo shaman-priests integral part of daily life, preserved in the literacies of these Loloish speakers. Altaic Languages — Manchu Example  The term “Mandarin” actually comes from these people! o Marco Polo’s expedition found China ruled by the ethnic Man peoples (not ethnic Chinese/Han people), hence term “Mandarin” for China o Qing Dynasty overthrown in 1011-1912 led to destruction of Manchu language o Quing Emperors slowly acculturated towards Han Chinese customs  Similar problem like Kadai speakers millions of ethnic Manchu but only a handful (not all over 60) can actually speak the language. o This process is known as “Sinicization” Ainu — Language Isolate of Japan  Ainu peoples of northern Japan structurally similar to Native Americans in the US o Highly marginalized peoples  Through prolonged contact, the language has distinct Japonic features  Ainu represent a unique genetic population of Indigenous people that are distantly related to Mongoloid and New World people  Jomon culture of Japan (approx. 12,000 – 500 BCE) o Created FIRST POTTERY (S. China and E. Russia) o Genetic evidence suggests close link to modern Ainu Friday, April 15, 2016 Recap  Language extinction  what is it?  Biological classification system of endangerment  Change vs. loss Australian Languages in the “51st Millennium” – Evans  Australian peoples occupied continent at least by 50,000 BCE. (mistake in text!)  Peoples remained hunter gatherers in entire history—used as social index for pre-Neolithic peoples.  Languages not documented until the 1970’s o Only the, perhaps 60 or so are properly documented in their grammars (out of 700) o Southeast languages already extinct by this time huge data loss for historical linguistics  Linguistic situation: o By 2088, almost 95% of languages will be extinct o 25 communities have over 1,000 speakers o Only 36 have more than 500 speakers Special Characteristics of Australian Languages  He focuses on Kayardild, a North Australian language with interesting case and tense structures  Clauses are also marked with a special case, and interclasual relation require further case marking  This makes this language, among with its sister, Lardil, are the only modal case system languages in the world.  Case stacking involves more and more case marking when additional clauses are used most extreme form of case marking of all languages  Noun-verb case morphology: Kyaradild example o Modal case: expresses intention, obligation, permission, possibility. o This is what Chomsky believed to be impossible through his own work on Universal Grammar!  Harmonic verbs: o Verbs in some languages express “harmony” with their constituent subjects o Harmony or disharmony involves ideas of kinship “two brothers go” vs “ father and son go” o Harmony in this case involves same generations or every other generation (grandparent to grandchild) Special Registers and Functions  Respect registers: o Used in specific instances of certain types of languages, usually mother-in-law and brother-in-law o These involves intact grammar but different words, from a few to several thousand.  Tri-relational Kinship terms: o Australian languages have a high sensitivity to family relations o These terms relate the different objects within the sentence in terms of family relations, and also the speaker’s family relation to the hearer. o “the one who is mother of one of us and mother-in-law of the other, given that we are husband and wife” o Requires speaker to take on two perspectives at once!  Initiation Registers: o Used by youths who are undergoing religious ceremonial education o Major socializing force within Australian communities o Some of these registers employ some of the most complex phonologies I the world o Use clicks and complex air streams to produce some phonemes seen nowhere else o Some use hand signs as integral parts of the syntax and to convey meaning


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