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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: Talking about Space: The Spatial Reference System of Irish English Add Dissertation
Author: Stephen Lucek Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Trinity College Dublin, M.Phil. programmes in Linguistics, Speech and Language Processing, Applied Linguistics, English Language Teaching
Completed in: 2015
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics; Cognitive Science;
Director(s): Jeffrey Kallen

Abstract: This thesis considers three central aims: how Irish people talk about space, what kind of variation is in these data, and why variation occurs. diachronic variation and apparent time variation are both considered, with prospects for future research proposed.

In the Background chapter, spatial cognition is described in detail, concentrating on how the English language deals with space. Conceptual Metaphor Theory is put forward as an analytical tool that bridges the gap between cognition and sociolinguistic variation.

Then, the traditional Irish English Spatial Reference System is derived from extant studies of dialect use in Roscommon, Donegal, and Kilkenny. These data are then paired with data from the general studies of Irish English where competing views of Irish substrate transfer and standardisation are posited, creating a rudimentary Spatial Reference System. The rudimentary system is then tested against the data in the SPICE-Ireland corpus, with further refinements of the system included.

The Methodology chapter details the methods used in similar studies conducted by the Nijmegen researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and those used in broad sociolinguistic studies. The methodological impetus of the current study is presented, and the instruments, protocol, and the recruitment process are described. This chapter with some actual data, showing how these data were collected, coded, and how they are to be reported in the following chapters.

The Results chapter is an exhaustive presentation of the interview data, organised by types of space (e.g. UP, OUT, OR ACROSS) and evaluated for the experiential truth of each statement. These spatial conceptualisations are then organised by the type of motion or orientation represented in the conceptualisation along with other conceptualisations (e.g. professional conceptualisation). The Questionnaire data are also discussed, where the Participants are tested on specific traditional, general, or conceptual features of the Spatial Reference System, with the results explained by each question or image set.

The Analysis chapter takes the spatial conceptualisations of each Participant and plots them on UP/DOWN and OUT/IN maps, which emphasises the difference between physical space and conceptual space. Physical and conceptual metaphors are proposed that offer a way of explaining how physical and conceptual space are related and also what kind of variation exists in the data. This chapter concludes by proposing a Unified Irish English Spatial Reference System.

The Conclusions summarise the findings and how they relate to extant theories of language variation. I describe the potential for replicability of the study, as well as detailing future research.