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'Speak correct, write correct, read dorrect': Fataluku perceptions on language documentation (Timor-Leste)

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Title: 'Speak correct, write correct, read dorrect': Fataluku perceptions on language documentation (Timor-Leste)
Authors: van Engelenhoven, Aone
Issue Date: 14 Mar 2009
Description: This paper focuses on language attitutes in the Fataluku Language Project (FLP), a documentation project funded by the Netherlands Science Foundation from 2005 till 2008. The name Fataluku (literally “to speak correctly”) epitomizes how, according to local foklore, after centuries of warfare, the ethnolinguistically diverse clans in the region united under ‘one correct speech’ (Fatalukunu) into one uniform society, naturally fading the original clan languages into oblivion. Consequently, Fataluku speakers are obsessed with the ‘correctness’ of their speech and perceive their language and everything related to it as sacred. Notwithstanding its status as national language, Fataluku speakers are quite aware of the dangers that lurk behind the rapid and aggressive spread of Portuguese and Tetum in their society. Attempts to standardize and document their language are therefore generally agreed with. The problem is rather that the instruments with which one attempts to safeguard Fataluku are considered by most people as kapare (‘bad’). It is obvious that Fataluku should become a written language like Portuguese and Tetum, however the national standard spelling by decree is generally rejected for Fataluku. It is obvious too that Fataluku should be introduced in the school’s curriculum, but the Portuguese and Indonesian linguistic terminology is considered inappropriate for Fataluku by teachers. It is obvious that Fataluku oral traditions should be recorded and written down, but there is no consensus on how to implement this. Whereas its sacredness is already a difficult element to tackle in the documentation and standardization of the Fataluku language, the requirements imposed by the responsible national body meant to protect the local languages may also severely complicate the progress of a program. This paper describes the efforts of the FLP team in cooperation with several stakeholders in the region (Radio Communidade Vox Populi, Ausaid, Timor Lorosa’e-Nippon Culture Centre, United Bible Societies, Instituto Nacional de Linguística) to standardize and document the Fataluku language.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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