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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Variety of Vietnamese Czech as an Example of Transcultural Communication in the Czech Republic Add Dissertation
Author: Jitka Slezáková Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Charles University in Prague, Linguistic Anthropology
Completed in: 2007
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics; Anthropological Linguistics; Language Acquisition;
Subject Language(s): Czech
Director(s): Petr Zima

Abstract: The subject of ethnic minorities represents an actual topic in today's
society. Vietnamese merchants were chosen as an example for several
reasons. They are one of the largest foreign minorities in the Czech
Republic, they are in everyday contact with the Czechs and their native
language is typologically completely different from the language of their
host country.

The aim of my project was to create a corpus, which would provide data for
linguistic description, analysis and sociolinguistic characterization of
the outcome of such a specific contact situation in the Czech Republic.
More accurately, in which way the typological differences are reflected in
Vietnamese Czech. Sources of particular morphological as well as phonetic
features are detected and explained. In particular, I deal with the
question whether the Vietnamese Czech could be regarded as an autonomous
language code (pidgin or creole) or rather as a case of an incomplete
second language acquisition (SLA) process. For this purpose, the text is
divided into three sections.

In Part I, the Vietnamese Czech is classified within the scope of contact
linguistics, whereas possible linguistic results of the contact are
introduced. A depiction of Vietnamese communicative situation is provided
by comparing the conditions before and after the political change in 1989.
Special attention is paid to linguistic analysis in subsequent two
sections. Part II deals with the Vietnamese Czech as a specific case of SLA
and methodology of this field is applied. Specifically, it was desirable to
examine the individual variability of language proficiency from the
viewpoint of mastering the Czech target language. On the contrary, Part III
focuses on unifying characteristics and stabilization of the Vietnamese
Czech as necessary conditions for creating a new sovereign language.

The data are based on a survey conducted among the Vietnamese merchants in
several cities with large residing Vietnamese communities (Praha, Cheb, and
Jihlava). Border regions were excluded for the expected influence of other
languages (German). While questioned individuals were chosen randomly in
Praha and Cheb, the entire community was mapped in Jihlava. The sample
includes 37 different speakers of all important social categories: sex, age
and length of stay in the Czech Republic. Interviews were digitally
recorded and subsequently transcribed according to the Czech version of the
International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The total length of the transcribed
text is about 12 hours. Personal experiences and statements from a Czech
informant (a former spokesperson of the Vietnamese community in Jihlava)
are added to the official data concerning the numbers of Vietnamese
immigrants in the Czech Republic.

Summary: Although Vietnamese Czech resembles in several linguistic features
a pidgin at first glance, it has to be characterized - after more elaborate
analysis - as a specific case of second language acquisition.
Sociolinguistic facts give support to this statement. The collected data
also build up an inexhaustible base for further research.