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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 Role of Social Networks on Language Maintenance and on Language Shift: Focusing on the Afro-Costa Rican women in two bilingual communities in the Province of Limon, Costa Rica Add Dissertation
Author: Lisbeth Philip Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Tulane University, Interdisciplinary Program in Linguistics
Completed in: 2011
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics;
Director(s): Thomas Klinger
Judith Maxwell
Olanike Orie
Harry Howard
Patricia Kissinger

Abstract: This study compares traditional methods of sociolinguistic analysis to Milroy's (1987) theory of social network analysis to analyze language maintenance and shift (LMLS) in a group of 127 Afro-Costa Rican women in two bilingual (Spanish-English) communities, Puerto Limón and Siquirres, in the province of Limón, Costa Rica. Since the publication of Milroy's work, a more recent trend has been to determine whether relationships among
individuals exert normative pressures that affect their choice to maintain or alter the standard linguistic practices of their community. This study situates itself within this trend and so attempts to determine whether social network organization explains LMLS better than traditional methods of sociolinguistic analysis. This objective is accomplished by applying each approach to analyze LMLS of the English spoken by the sample of Afro-Costa Rican women and their maintenance of four Creole phonological
variables. The traditional sociolinguistic method of analysis is implemented by the examination of data collected through a questionnaire, complemented by interviews. Milroy's theory is implemented by delineating the network structure of the participants through the types of relations that bind them in order to define a measure of multiplexity and thus centrality. Both approaches were also applied to the examination of phonological variables based on the narration of 104 (of the 127) women of a picture story-task. The data suggest that traditional sociolinguistic analysis is more reliable in explaining factors associated with LMLS than the social network approach. The latter did not prove useful in explaining patterns of language behavior as norm enforcement mechanisms in the maintenance of the linguistic practices of the members in the network. Neither traditional methods of sociolinguistic analysis nor the social network model were associated with the maintenance of the phonological features of the Creole variety.