In Between Resignation and Revitalization : Case Studies of Endangered Languages at the Fin de Millénaire.

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Title: In Between Resignation and Revitalization : Case Studies of Endangered Languages at the Fin de Millénaire.
Author: Hallamaa, Panu
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Humanistinen tiedekunta, Nykykielten laitos 2010-2017
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Department of Modern Languages 2010-2017
Helsingfors universitet, Humanistiska fakulteten, Institutionen för moderna språk 2010-2017
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: yleinen kielitiede
General Linguistics
Allmän språkvetenskap
Abstract: This is a report on linguistic fieldwork I have conducted mainly during 1993–1999 in three settings, in Alaska, Finnish Lapland and the Karelian Republic in Russia. The focus of this study is the sociology of language, and the research question has been: in community x with regard to language y, what is the viability of the Native language there. The results are given primarily in the form of “linguistic profiles”, i.e. population pyramids, from which the state of the language can be seen, and secondarily, in the form of “language viability indices”, of which there are two, one with regard to the transmission of the language to new generations, and one which will describe the absolute viability of the language. The study has been conducted in Alaska with regard to Unangam tunuu, better known as the Aleut language (in three communities) in 1994–95, and Sugt’stun, also known as Alutiiq or Pacific Eskimo (in four communities), in 1993–95, in Finland with regard to the Skolt Sámi (three communities, 1996) and Inari Sámi (four communities, 1996–99) languages, with some additions in 2007, with regard to the Inari Sámi language immersion programme in the so-called Kielâpiervâl day care centre, and in 1996–97 in the Karelian Republic with regard to the Veps, the Olonets Karelian and the Central Karelian languages. For the Alaskan villages and for the Če´vetjäu´rr settlement of the Skolt Sámi, several retrospective language situation surveys are also presented. The surveys have been conducted with a method that I have developed on the basis of the methods of the Finnish linguist Pekka Sammallahti and the Russian linguist Nikolaĭ Vakhtin. The method was first used by myself in Alaska, then in Finnish Lapland, and finally it was tested on large populations in Russian Karelia, where during the summers of 1996 and 1997 I applied it to three different geographical locations with regard to a total population of 5660 persons, all of whom were given short interviews by myself. The language viability indices were developed by myself, based on a system that had been worked out by the Alaskan linguist Michael E. Krauss. I gave an exact definition for his viability index, and then I worked out an index for language transmission, which is perhaps the real innovation of this study. Previously, linguists had been asking the question, “how old are the youngest speakers of language x”, but in addition to this, I pose the question, “how old are the youngest people who have transmitted the language on to a new generation”. Having asked this question (i.e. “if you speak the language, have you spoken the native language to your children or have you spoken the majority language to them”), I have been able to extract the language transmission index from my data. On the basis of the language viability indices, I have been able to make projections on the language viability for 2020 for the Alaskan and Sámi communities that I have surveyed. In addition to this the concepts of “language resuscitation”, “bilingual education” and social advocacy are discussed in some detail.
Subject: Endangered languages
language attrition
sociology of language
language immersion programmes
Aleut language
Pacific Yup’ik language
Skolt Sámi language
Inari Sámi language
Veps language
Olonets Karelian language
Central Karelian language.

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