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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 Viability of Official Malagasy in the Language Ecology of Southern Madagascar with Particular Reference to the Bara Speech Community Add Dissertation
Author: Leoni Bouwer Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of South Africa, DLitt et Phil
Completed in: 2003
Linguistic Subfield(s): Sociolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): Malagasy, Tandroy-Mahafaly
Language Family(ies): Malagasy
Director(s): Lawrie Barnes

Abstract: It is traditionally believed that one language is spoken by all the people of Madagascar. This implies that the standardised form of the Merina variety of Malagasy, also referred to as Official Malagasy, can adequately be used and understood by all Malagasy speakers in every social situation - including educational, health, cultural, domestic, economic, political and religious contexts.

The thesis presents empirical research that challenges this belief, confronts the assumption of Malagasy monolingualism as a prerequisite for national unity, and demonstrates that the question of Malagasy linguistic diversity remains unresolved.

Both quantitative and qualitative methods were implemented to investigate the viability of Official Malagasy in the language ecology of Southern Madagascar, and to explore the vitality of Southern Malagasy speech varieties, with particular focus on the Bara speech community. A language ecological view is taken of the region under study, firstly of the general sociolinguistic situation of Southern Madagascar, then of Ibara, an area within Southern Madagascar, and finally of the Mikoboke, a secluded area in Western Ibara.

The study argues that significant linguistic diversity exists in Southern Madagascar and that Southern Malagasy speakers are not adequately served by the official language due to language variation, ethnolinguistic vitality, insufficient intelligibility, poor proficiency in Official Malagasy, and language attitudes. If all regions of Madagascar are to have equal opportunity for educational and economic development, regional speech forms need to be given a recognized place at the local level.

As far as could be established, no similar research has previously been undertaken in Southern Madagascar, nor anywhere else in Madagascar, and this study therefore takes on an initiatory and exploratory role as to its focus of study.