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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Discussion Details

Title: Prestige and Language Maintenance
Submitter: Ronald Cosper
Description: But don't Anonby's observations support in a sense the idea of prestige and
language maintenance, though. It is probably not the prestige of the
speakers, so much as it is the prestige of the languages themselves, in the
larger cultural sense, that affect language maintenance. For example, in
the American examples he mentions, it is probably the prestige of the
dominant language, relative to that of the minority language, that leads to
its being adopted by minority speakers. And it is the most educated
speakers who (correctly) perceive that the dominant language is of greater
prestige and use than is the minority language. Perhaps these observations
support the idea of language hierarchy, where people learn languages up the
hierarchy, and not down. It is those villagers most in touch with outside
culture, who are most aware of this hierarchy. In Africa this hierarchy
can include as many as 4 or more languages. For example, in Bauchi State,
Nigeria, I have noted that the hierarchy can consist of English
(international), Hausa, Jarawan Bantu, and Dot, with people learning second
languages above them, but not below. Actually, there can be as many 6
languages in this hierarchy, if one includes dialects (the Bauchi dialect
of Hausa, ''Bausanci'', and the Bankalawa dialect of Bantu ''Bankalanci'').
Date Posted: 16-Jan-2006
Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
Anthropological Linguistics
LL Issue: 17.130
Posted: 16-Jan-2006

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