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Acquisition in the Context of Language Revitalization: Adult L2 Learner Varieties of Chickasaw

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Title:Acquisition in the Context of Language Revitalization: Adult L2 Learner Varieties of Chickasaw
Authors:Morgan, Juliet
Contributors:Morgan, Juliet (speaker)
Date Issued:03 Mar 2017
Description:Hinton (2008; 2011) describes endangered language acquisition as a “bottleneck,” a process where the language undergoes major changes resulting in a new variety. The process involves changes due to simplification and first language interference, with the likelihood that any changes in the language will become permanent features of the resulting new variety, possibly to the point of pidginization (Sasse 1992; Goodfellow 2002). This paper describes the learner varieties developing in the “bottleneck” for Chickasaw, as the language is being acquired by adult learners in an immersion program. Chickasaw is a Muskogean language spoken in southeastern Oklahoma by approximately 60 speakers. In the Chikashsha Academy, multiple second language (L2) learners of various levels meet daily with native speakers for recorded immersion sessions. This paper describes the novice and intermediate learner varieties of L2 Chickasaw based on an analysis of one year of the program’s recordings. Six learners currently participate in the program, five of whom are at different sublevels of novice while one is at the intermediate-low level. In describing learner varieties, I discuss the specific grammatical features that distinguish the novice and intermediate levels, and the sublevels of novice (low, mid, and high). For example, novice-low learners prefer temporal adverbs (e.g. oblaashaash ‘yesterday’) over tense-aspect suffixes (-tok past tense) and SVO word order over SOV word order and/or case marking (e.g. - at nominative, -a̱ accusative). Novice-mid learners become productive with pronominal affixes and tense suffixes, but still prefer SOV word order over case marking; free-standing connective words (e.g. haatokoot/haatoko̱ ‘and then’ same-subject/different-subject) over switch-reference suffixes (e.g. -kat/-ka̱ subbordinating or -cha/-na conjunctive); rising intonation over question suffixes; and auxiliary negation over a complex negation process. These features show signs of simplification and first language interference. Other studies of Native American languages have found similar trends. Wyman (2004) and Holton (2009) found a reduction of inflectional morphology and a preference for periphrastic expressions and analytic sentence structure. While novice learners of Chickasaw have similar preferences, the intermediate level is marked by a more productive command of cohesive devices, including nominal case marking and verbal switch-reference. Describing the learner varieties indicates the changes likely to occur in Chickasaw after going through the “bottleneck” of language acquisition in the context of language revitalization. Additionally, studying the developing new learner varieties aids the Chickasaw program, and other programs that focus on adult endangered language acquisition, by helping them to mediate the ongoing language change. Goodfellow, Anne. 2002. The Development of “new” Languages in Native American Communities. American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 27(2), 41-59. Hinton, Leanne. 2008. Learning and Teaching Endangered Indigenous Languages. In Volume 4: Second and Foreign Language Education. Nelleke van Deusen-Scholl and Nancy H Hornberger, eds. Pp. 157–167. New York, NY: Springer. Hinton, Leanne. 2011. Language Revitalization and Language Pedagogy: New Teaching and Learning Strategies. Language and Education 25(4): 307–318. Holton, Gary. 2009. Relearning Athabascan Languages in Alaska: Creating Sustainable Language Communities through Creolization. In Speaking of Endangered Languages: Issues in Revitalization. Anne Goodfellow, ed. Pp. 238–265. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Sasse, Hans-Jurgen. 1992. Language Decay and Contact-Induced Change: Similarities and Differences. In Language Death: Factual and Theoretical Explorations with Special Reference to East Africa Pp. 59–80. Wyman, Leisy. 2004. Language Shift, Youth Culture, and Ideology: A Yup’ik Example. Dissertation. Stanford University.
Appears in Collections: 5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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