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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: Cognitive Patterns of Linguistic Perceptions Add Dissertation
Author: Susan Tamasi Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Georgia, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2003
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics; Anthropological Linguistics;
Subject Language(s): English
Director(s): William Kretzschmar

Abstract: This research explores the attitudes and perceptions that nonlinguists have about variation in language and analyzes how this knowledge is cognitively organized.

I created an innovative, inter-disciplinary methodology to reveal folk perceptions, such as the types and number of American dialects and the social traits (i.e. issues of status and solidarity) that are associated with speech. I then placed this information within a cognitive framework in order to explore the ways in which people understand and utilize linguistic variation.

Sixty informants from two different locations (North Georgia and Central New Jersey) participated in a series of tasks developed to elicit their perceptions toward variation in American English. Participants were given a set of index cards with state names written on them and were asked to divide them into piles according to where people speak differently from one another. Participants were then given a stack of cards which listed social traits (e.g. intelligent, trustworthy, pleasant) and linguistic traits (e.g. nasal) and were asked to describe the speech of the dialect communities they created in the first task. Next, participants listened to four voice samples from four different locations around the U. S. (Georgia, New Jersey, Illinois, and Missouri) and were asked to use the cards from the first two tasks to describe the speech samples geographically, socially, and linguistically. Finally, participants were asked a short series of questions to clarify, confirm, and develop their earlier responses.

Using qualitative and quantitative data, I show that people categorize their knowledge of language in patterned, culturally-determined ways and that the conceptual organization of language reveals a complex, interrelated network of social, regional, and personal information.