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Surveying language attitudes among Khroskyabs speakers in rural western Sichuan
|Title:||Surveying language attitudes among Khroskyabs speakers in rural western Sichuan|
|Issue Date:||03 Mar 2017|
|Description:||The topic we will talk about is the linguistic attitude of Khroskyabs speakers. We will discuss not only speakers’ attitudes, which have an impact on the future sustainability of the language, but also discuss the methods by which we determined community members’ language attitude. Khroskyabs, an unwritten Rgyalrongic language (Tibeto-Burman), is spoken in three ethnic Tibetan villages in Rngaba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in western Sichuan, China, with a total population 10,000, most of whom are Khroskyabs speakers. Teenagers and young people who have received a formal education appear to be actively switching to Chinese. The region is dominated by two other language varieties: Amdo Tibetan, the language of the Tibetan Buddhist religion that Khroskyabs speakers practice, and South Western Mandarin, which is the language of education. With its small population size, lack of institutional support, and preference of young people for Chinese, Khroskyabs would appear to be an endangered language. On the other hand, the language is spoken by people of all ages, including the majority of people under 25. Prior to the study presented in this paper, no formal sociolinguistic analysis had been conducted to determine what, in fact, is the case. In the spring of 2016, the authors designed a sociolinguistic survey to determine whether Khroskyabs speakers are optimistic or pessimistic about their language. The survey is divided into two parts. First, we asked 101 participants to fill out an on-line survey, of which 88 responses were ultimately included in the study. The survey, written in Chinese, was then followed up with face-to-face interviews, conducted in Khroskyabs, with 8 participants. The results of the survey suggest a positive attitude over all, which was contradicted by the answers provided in the face-to-face interviews. The study results show that younger speakers, females and villagers with higher education levels seem to have the least positive overall attitude toward Khroskyabs. Fluency in Chinese is ultimately seen to be the key to a better future, followed by fluency (and literacy in) Amdo Tibetan. We will discuss the interpretation of these results and how these results may bear on the future of the language and efforts in maintaining (or revitalizing) the language. The results also highlight the importance of implementing multiple methodologies and strategies when trying to analyze the health of a small language community. A combination of questionnaire and in-person interviews was used. The questionnaire yielded useful information, but produced results that presented a different picture of language attitudes from the interview results. The results of this study therefore highlight the importance of implementing multiple methodologies and strategies when trying to analyze the health of a small language community.|
|Appears in Collections:||5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)|
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