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Discourses of speakerhood in Iyasa: Linguistic identity and authenticity in an endangered language

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Title:Discourses of speakerhood in Iyasa: Linguistic identity and authenticity in an endangered language
Authors:Belew, Anna
Keywords:Iyasa
linguistic identity
endangered languages
discourse
Date Issued:Jun 2018
Publisher:University of Hawaii Press
Citation:Belew, Anna. 2018. Discourses of speakerhood in Iyasa: Linguistic identity and authenticity in an endangered language. Language Documentation & Conservation 12: 235-273.
Abstract:Within most subfields of linguistics, the term “speaker” is often used in a shorthand, nonspecific way. In referring simply to “speakers” of endangered languages, the nuances of proficiency, language use, self-identification, and local language ideologies are collapsed into a binary: speaker vs. non-speaker. Despite the central role of local language ideologies in shaping patterns of language shift and maintenance, insiders’ perceptions of speaker status are not often investigated as part of language documentation projects. This paper approaches the issue of speaker status in Iyasa, a threatened Coastal Bantu language of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, through the firsthand accounts of self-identified Iyasa speakers. Using a discourse-analytic approach and the framework of identity and interaction (Bucholtz & Hall 2005), this paper examines the ways Iyasa speakers construct “speakerhood” in discourse, respond to researchers’ language ideologies, and position their own and others’ proficiency in Iyasa. Local language ideologies which equate ruralness, elderliness, and authenticity are discussed, as well as their links to similar ideologies in linguistics. Finally, the implications for language documentation and maintenance work in the Iyasa community are discussed.
Pages/Duration:39 pages
URI/DOI:http://hdl.handle.net/10125/24769
ISSN:1934-5275
Rights:Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International
Appears in Collections: Volume 12 : Language Documentation & Conservation


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