Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/26136

Heritage linguistics and language activism: A conversation with the Siraya

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Item Summary

Title: Heritage linguistics and language activism: A conversation with the Siraya
Issue Date: 03 Mar 2013
Description: We reveal some of the problems we have encountered in the last few years while attempting to revitalize the Siraya language on the one hand and fighting for official recognition of the people on the other. As our group consists of a linguist, a community leader, and a musician, two of whom Siraya natives and the last a member through marriage, our discussion is particularly relevant to two of the original ideas introduced in ICLDC in 2009, namely, heritage linguistics (Crippen, 2009) and language activism (Florey et al., 2009). Crucially, it corresponds to the actual work that realizes the two ideas through ingenious endeavor (e.g., Leonard, 2008, 2009). In the paper we first celebrate the collective achievements of our community in recent years through recounting them: the publication of a series of storybooks with audio CDs and native illustrations; the producing of new songs in Siraya and using them in language teaching; a short-lived but much appreciated mother tongue program in local schools; a government-sponsored linguistic seminar; and the beginning of a teacher-training program. Then we address the difficulties that have confronted us over the years, including those of linguistic nature and those of political nature. In fact, they are all related: when we sit together studying our heritage language, we often find ourselves planning, organizing, and strategizing our next street protest or court appearance. In addition, we acknowledge that some of these difficulties indeed come from our personal lives, but we also encourage our audience to consider these “personal issues” as probably, unavoidably, social. For example, perhaps many of our personal problems are in reality related to our persons, i.e., our being indigenous persons without an official status in our own country, and a main reason why the government has refused our people an official status is because it considers our language extinct, and thus our culture and race extinct as well. It hence all comes full circle: the personal is social, the social is personal, and the linguistic problems are always truly inseparable from those cultural and sociopolitical. All in all, it is our most sincere hope that, by carrying out Bourdieu’s (1990) call for a “reflexive practice” of social science and through honest conversations, our audience and we can together envision a new breed of indigenous activism that is both theoretically ideal and practically possible, one that which fits the heritage linguist and the non-heritage alike.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/26136
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:3rd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)



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