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LINGUIST List 21.716

Thu Feb 11 2010

Diss: Socioling: Ravindranath: 'Language Shift and the Speech...'

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        1.    Maya Ravindranath, Language Shift and the Speech Community: Sociolinguistic change in a Garifuna community in Belize

Message 1: Language Shift and the Speech Community: Sociolinguistic change in a Garifuna community in Belize
Date: 10-Feb-2010
From: Maya Ravindranath <maya.ravindranathgmail.com>
Subject: Language Shift and the Speech Community: Sociolinguistic change in a Garifuna community in Belize
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Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Maya Ravindranath

Dissertation Title: Language Shift and the Speech Community: Sociolinguistic change in a Garifuna community in Belize

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Subject Language(s): Garifuna (cab)

Dissertation Director:
David Embick
Gillian Sankoff
William Labov

Dissertation Abstract:

Language shift is the process by which a speech community in a contact
situation (i.e. consisting of bilingual speakers) gradually stops using one
of its two languages in favor of the other. The causal factors of language
shift are generally considered to be social, and researchers have focused
on speakers' attitudes (both explicit and unstated) toward a language and
domains of language use in the community, as well as other macro social
factors. Additional research has focused on the effects of language shift,
generally on the (changing) structure of the language itself. The goal of
this thesis is to examine the relationship between social and linguistic
factors in considering the causes and effects of language shift, focusing
on age-based variation in the speech community. Hopkins is a multilingual
speech community in Belize where complete language shift from the heritage
language, Garifuna, to the dominant national languages, English and
Belizean Creole (BC), has not yet occurred, despite the fact that Garifuna
is no longer spoken in similar nearby communities. This dissertation
examines the linguistic and social correlates of early language shift in
Hopkins using an apparent-time perspective. The thesis employs interview
data from fifty-two (52) speakers aged five to eighty-one, surveys
collected from teachers in the rural Garifuna communities in Belize, and
participant observation of caregiver-child and peer interactions in Hopkins
to examine two phonological changes in progress in the language, as well as
generational differences in language attitudes toward Garifuna and BC. An
apparent time analysis shows an externally-motivated change in the status
of the sociolinguistic variable (ch) that is evidence for a shift in the
dominant language in the community. A second change in progress, variable
deletion of intervocalic r, is described for the first time as an
internally-motivated change, albeit progressing alongside contact-induced
changes. Evidence is also presented to propose that the behavior of the
transitional generation (speakers aged 30-49) shows interesting
characteristics with regard to these two variables as a result of shifting
language ideologies in the village. These ideological shifts are examined
along with changing attitudes in the community toward English, BC, and
Garifuna.



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