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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: Kamloops Chinuk Wawa, Chinuk pipa, and the Vitality of Pidgins Add Dissertation
Author: David Robertson Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Victoria, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2011
Linguistic Subfield(s): Historical Linguistics; Language Documentation; Writing Systems; Anthropological Linguistics;
Subject Language(s): Chinook jargon
Director(s): Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins

Abstract: This dissertation presents the first full grammatical description of unprompted (spontaneous) speech in pidgin Chinook Jargon. The data come from a dialect, ‘Kamloops Chinuk Wawa’, used in southern interior BC ca. 1900. I also present the first historical study and structural analysis of the shorthand 'Chinuk pipa' alphabet in which KCW was written, primarily by Salish people. This study emerges from the discovery of several hundred such texts that I have transliterated and analyzed. The Basic Linguistic Theory-inspired (cf. Dixon 2010) framework used here interprets KCW as surprisingly ramified in morphological and syntactic structure, a finding in line with recent studies reviewing the status of pidgins. Among major findings: an unusually successful pidgin literacy included a widely circulated newspaper Kamloops Wawa, and language planning by the missionary JMR Le Jeune, OMI. He planned both for the use of KCW and this alphabet, and for their replacement by English. Sociolinguistic factors determining how Chinuk pipa was written included Salish preferences for whole-word learning (rather than letter by letter), and for informal intra-community teaching of this first group literacy. In addition to compounding and conversion of lexical roots, KCW morphology exploited three types of preposed grammatical morphemes—affixes, clitics, and particles. Virtually all are homonymous with and grammaticalized from demonstrably lexical morphs. Newly identified categories include 'out-of-control' transitivity marking and discourse markers including 'admirative' and 'inferred'. Contrary to previous claims about CJ, no overt passive voice exists in KCW, but a previously unknown 'passivization strategy' of implied agent demotion is brought to light. A realis-irrealis modality distinction is reflected at several scopal levels: phrase, clause and sentence. Functional differences are observed between irrealis clauses before vs. after main clauses. Polar questions are restricted to subordinate clauses, while alternative questions are formed by simple juxtaposition of irrealis clauses. Main-clause interrogatives are limited to content-question forms, optionally with irrealis marking. Positive imperatives are normally signaled by a mood particle on a realis clause, negative ones by a negative particle. Aspect is marked in a three-part ingressive-imperfective-completive system, with a marginal fourth 'conative'. One negative operator has characteristically clausal, and another phrasal, scope. One copula is newly attested. Degree marking is largely confined to 'predicative' adjectives. Several novel features of pronoun use possibly reflect Salish L1 grammatical habits: a consistent animacy distinction in third-person pronouns, where pan-CJ 'iaka' (animate singular) and 'klaska' (animate plural) contrast with a null inanimate object/patient; non-specification for number of this null and 'iaka'; in intransitives, double exponence (repetition) of pronominal subjects; and pan-CJ 'klaksta' (originally ‘who?’) and 'klaska' (originally ‘they’) varying freely. Certain etymologically content-question forms are used also as determiners. KCW’s numeral system is unusually regular and small for a pidgin; numerals are also used ordinally in a distinct type of personal name. There is a null allomorph of preposition 'kopa'. This preposition has additionally a realis complementizer function (with nominalized predicates) distinct from irrealis 'pus' (with verbal ones). Conjunction 'pi' also has a function in a syntactic focus-increasing and -reducing system.