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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 Social Distribution of Uruguayan Portuguese in a Bilingual Border Town Add Dissertation
Author: Ana Carvalho Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of California, Berkeley, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Completed in: 1998
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): Portuguese
Director(s): Milton Azevedo

Abstract: Although the presence of Portuguese in Uruguay has been the subject of several studies, issues related to social and stylistic variation in Uruguayan Portuguese as well as the social significance of choice between Portuguese and Spanish have not been investigated. This dissertation considers such issues in the bilingual speech community of Rivera, Uruguay, based on sociolinguistic interviews with 54 bilinguals and intense participant-observation. The analysis focuses first on the distribution of two phonological variables, namely the quantification of vocalization of the palatal liquid /ʎ/, and failure to apply the palatalization rule to the dental stops /d/ and /t/ followed by /i/, both typical of border Portuguese. It was found that new phonological variants, borrowed from Brazilian Portuguese, are being incorporated into the speech of certain social groups in formal styles, in an ongoing process of dialectal diffusion leading to linguistic change from rural, mixed, extremely stigmatized varieties of border Portuguese to less stigmatized urban varieties closer to an ideal standard. Such diffusion does not affect local Portuguese categorically or uniformly, rather it suggests attitudes held by different social groups toward border culture. The analysis of the choice between Spanish and Portuguese in social interactions reveals that dialect diffusion in Portuguese is accompanied by language shift. By exploring the roles of gender, socioeconomic status and age groups, it suggests that the same groups that show dialectal diffusion also tend to use Spanish in situations that would traditionally call for Portuguese, as an adoption of the national, prestigious Spanish-speaking model. The maintenance of border Portuguese among other groups are means by which they cultivate in-group solidarity, thus maintaining the traditional border culture alive. Both opposite tendencies are 'acts of identity' with the social groups with whom speakers want to identify. Changes in this community's linguistic and cultural patterns have been instigated by recent urbanization and the presence of Brazilian television. The sociolinguistic stratification attested by this study is, thus, the result of a juxtaposition of languages, dialects, and sociocultural models.