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Reflections of an observant linguist regarding the orthography of A Fala de Us Tres Lugaris

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Title: Reflections of an observant linguist regarding the orthography of A Fala de Us Tres Lugaris
Authors: Miroslav Valeš
Issue Date: Feb 2016
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Citation: Valeš, Miroslav. 2016. Reflections of an observant linguist regarding the orthography of A Fala de Us Tres Lugaris. In Vera Ferreira and Peter Bouda (eds.). Language Documentation and Conservation in Europe. 115-120. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
Series/Report no.: LD&C Special Publication
Abstract: A Fala has never had a standardized orthography as it is a language of oral tradition and almost all written documents have always been produced only in Spanish. The few documents which exist in A Fala use orthographies that vary considerably, especially when indicating the phonemes which are absent in standard Spanish. However, in the past decades there have been signs of an increasing interest regarding the language and cultural identity in the three villages and there have also been attempts to establish organizations to promote the language, such as A Fala y Cultura, U Lagartu Verdi, and A Nosa Fala. This increase in language awareness leads inevitably to situations, when the speakers want to express their linguistic identity in written form and the lack of written standard makes this task rather difficult. The objective of this paper is to analyze the public inscriptions, direction signs and street names written in A Fala. The appearance of these signs expresses the willingness of the speakers of A Fala to claim their linguistic identity. At the same time, their inconsistent orthography reveals the problems that arise in the course of writing their language. There are two main causes of these difficulties: The influence of Spanish, as all the speakers are bilingual in Spanish, and variation within the language itself. Regarding the first cause, the main issues include the uncertainty how to write the phonemes that do not exist in standard Spanish, and also whether the phonemes that do exist in Spanish should be written in the same way or not. In respect of the second cause, the signposts and street names reflect the three main varieties: Valverdeñu, Lagarteiru and Mañegu. They also partially reflect the ideas of those who created them and testify to a certain evolution in time. In general, the linguistic data in the form of street names and direction signs provide relevant information about the options for writing those phonemes which do not have an equivalent in Spanish, as well as geographical (diatopic) variation, and the changes of ideas regarding the orthography. This paper will use this valuable linguistic material to reflect on the issues that are involved in the establishment of an orthographical standard.
Sponsor: National Foreign Language Resource Center
ISBN: 978-0-9856211-5-5
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License
Appears in Collections:LD&C Special Publication No. 9: Language Documentation and Conservation in Europe

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