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2- Causes of language endangerment Assessing the degree of endangerment.pdf

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Linguistics and Language Studies
LIN 3619
Bruce Connell

2- Causes of language endangerment ; Assessing the degree of endangerment Thursday, September 13, 23:03 PM 1. Causes of languageendangermentand death - Extinction of a population ○ Disease, famine, warfare, genocide  Exx: disease in the Americas, genocide in Tasmania, drought and famine in Ethiopia, war in Sudan, etc.  [A Fair Country by J. Ralston Saul]  [Language is lost comparatively quickly] - Changes in language ecology ○ What is 'language ecology'? (See Haugen 1972)  "The study of the totality of relations that obtain between language and environment, i.e. between the factors and conditions which make language possible or which affect or influence language." Raith (1984: 6) □ Changes in cultural/social setting parallel the effect of environmental changes on biological species □ Understanding the local language ecology is essential to understanding the changing fortunes of a language □ Language ecology must be understood in a broad sense ○ [Pidgin language-- a mixed language] - Culture clash ○ "A speech community comes into economic cultural or political contact with another community or population speaking a different language and which is economically stronger and more advanced than the first speech community, or culturally aggressive, or politically more powerful and mighty." Wurm (1991: 5) ○ [Cultural assimilation - in North America, Australia] ○ [Through cultural assimilation by direct contact or indirect contact, e.g. media exposure] ○ [To what extent does globalization play a role in language endangerment?- "Glocalization"] - Economic influences ○ Knowledge of the language of the economically stronger population felt to be advantageous; only a serious threat when accompanied by cultural/political influence ○ [If one language will allow you to get a better job, you will learn that language] - Cultural influences: cultural dominance and assimilation ○ Language may be replaced by the new, dominant language ○ May be relegated to less important or specialist domains ○ [A different vocabulary or grammatical structure may be used] ○ May be influenced structurally; vocabulary and grammatical influences from dominant language ○ Undergo loss of traditional cultural roots; no longer reflect the worldview of its community (Wurm: 'pseudo-death') - Political influence ○ Conquest and colonization  Language shift may go in either direction ○ Internal domination: exx Castilian vs. Basque, Catalan [in Spain]; Swahili in east Africa vs. other local languages - These various factors don't operate in isolation, one from another ○ All tend to loss of prestige [What speakers think of their language] - Bilingualism lead
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