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Lost in Kallady: Identity, survival and future of Sri Lanka Creole Portuguese

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Title: Lost in Kallady: Identity, survival and future of Sri Lanka Creole Portuguese
Authors: Bandara, Achinthya
Issue Date: 03 Mar 2017
Description: During its long journey of successive contact with foreign influences, Sri Lanka was exposed to various multicultural experiences. Being a country located in the geographically strategic Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka shares this history of contact with other countries in the region. Recent diachronic historical studies have been revealed that a principal area of contact is language. Hence the academic discourse on colonialism - colonization and decolonization in particular - was colonial-centric and focused mainly on the socio-cultural aspects of colonialism and considered Sri Lankan society as a victim of the process, overlooking other aspects of colonialism. In other words, academia was merely an anti-Eurocentric movement which addressed the post-colonial nationalist thinking. The discussion on Sri Lanka Portuguese Burghers and Sri Lanka Creole Portuguese in particular, was far from the mainstream debates which addressed matters of contemporary society. Within the last three decades, Sri Lanka Creole Portuguese has faced two critical language-external circumstances: a devastating Tsunami (December 26, 2004) and a protracted Civil War (1989-2009). These two events have significantly shaped the ways in which SriLCP is used today by an ever dwindling number of speakers (approximately 6000 in total at most) in their main two speech communities of Batticaloa and Trincomalee). In one case Batticaloa, geographic displacement away from the beach to a more inland location has resulted in significant cultural marginalization and social fracturing. The combined result has triggered the progressive abandonment of the creole, so much so that its survival beyond the next generation or two is now in question. The result of exploratory fieldwork carried out in situ (June of 2014, and repeat visits thereafter) by the author, this article aims to provide an update of the current status of SriLCP. In doing so, this paper hopes to clarify the current social and linguistic dynamics of these two communities. To properly contextualize the description, language-external information and a description of Sri Lanka’s easterly multilingualims will be offered in the introductory sections. This and ensuing information is intended to clarify that today Batticaloa and Trincomalee Portuguese are not only surprisingly “distant and different sisters under the skin”, but are also likely to follow evolutionary paths that within the next generations may produce rather divergent results.
Appears in Collections:5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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