Tag Archives: Socio/LingAnth
7/07 Examples in Revitalization Fieldwork – Anishinaabemowin in the Great Lakes

July 7, 2013, 10 am – 1 pm
2407 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Meg Noori (mnoori@umich.edu)

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This workshop will focus on the tools and techniques of language revitalization. The workshop will focus on Anishinaabemowin, an endangered North American language.  Used in several provinces and states in the US and Canada, Anishinaabemowin is the heritage language of over 200 native nations.  Although there are numerous dialects, it provides the structural core of language shared by Potawatomi, Ojibwe and Odawa people, also known as the Three Fires Confederacy.  For hundreds of years, the language has been written by traders, translators and teachers.  Despite its widespread history and level of literacy, Anishinaabemowin declined in use during colonization and only recently has the younger generation begun seeking ways to incorporate it into their daily lives.

Fieldwork in Anishinaabemowin requires a strong awareness of dialect similarities and differences as well as generational variance in use and support.  All contacts need to be placed in historical and cultural context in order to maximize the potential use of any linguistic data gathered.  We will talk about phonological, as well as ethnographic data.  We will also look at how to best capture important information while meeting both the linguists’ needs as well as the cultural and curricular needs of the community.

With a particular emphasis on song, ceremony and poetics, we will listen to lyrics from the early 1900s, mid 1900s and the present and attempt to document important linguistic and cultural detail.  Questions for discussion will include: What meta-data is important to gather about recordings?  How can data not volunteered be surmised and respected? What phonological elements vary and how does linguistic and folk representation of sound impact an archive? How can speakers and scholars combine their knowledge of morphological elements?

Lastly, we will talk about the politics of representation and preservation and explore some of the ways Anishinaabemowin is archived at the University of Michigan in Deep Blue, the Bentley Library, in linguistics and language curriculum and on www.ojibwe.net and Facebook.

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7/13-14 Globalization and the End of Linguistic Diversity: Historical, Legal and Sociolinguistic Aspects of Cultural Genocide

July 13-14, 2013
2353 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Viola Miglio (miglio@spanport.ucsb.edu)

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UNESCO considers the loss of cultural and linguistic diversity as serious a danger for future generations as the loss of bio-­diversity is for nature (2003, 8). The rate of language extinction has increased enormously over the past 200 years, and even more since the middle of the past century (Krauss 2007, Salminen 1993). Globalization is seen as the loss of relevance of national borders, especially through technical means, as such it can be seen as promoting intercultural contact. Globalization, however, also entails the support of first world economies, through the efficient export of goods from industrialized countries and the management of cultural diversity in terms of potential markets for the consumption of those goods -­‐ thus a ‘global culture’ means in fact a culture of consumption (Banerjee & Linstead 2001). As such, it is a threat to cultural and linguistic diversity and it can accelerate language attrition and death.

This workshop aims at examining the social, historical, political factors and legal practices that have led to the attrition and endangerment of a number of languages in Europe and other parts of the world. The situation of Basque, Breton, Friulian, and Gallo-­‐Italic languages will be analyzed in depth, highlighting the combined effect of language policy on the demographic, and socio-­‐cultural development of these language communities over the past 200 years. Part of the workshop will be devoted to studying policies and practices aimed at reversing language attrition, and comparing the European cases with Canada and the USA.

The legal history of linguistic rights shows that while the right to speak and receive an education in one’s own language has been recognized since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations (1948), the everyday reality of such a basic human right varies widely from country to country, or even within countries. Particularly striking, moreover, is the fact that despite the variability inherent in the socio-­‐cultural conditions of different linguistic communities, the legal instruments of repression, the philosophical arguments that support it and the practices of marginalization that lead to ‘cultural genocide’ are very similar regardless of the time and place where they are applied. So are their sinister results.

These similarities arise out of the recognition that language is one of the supporting pillars of ethnic and cultural identity: by analyzing the role of language in this context, this workshop also conceives of ‘the study of language as a central component of human cultures, social action and perception,’ a theme highlighted by the 2013 LSA Institute.



Banerjee, S. B. and S. Linstead. 2001. Globalization, Multiculturalism, and Other Fictions: Colonialism for the New Millenium? Organization, vol. 8(4):683-­722.

Krauss, M. E. 2007. “Keynote -­‐ Mass Language Extinction and Documentation: The Race Against Time”. In Miyaoka, O., O. Sakiyama, and M. E. Krauss (eds.). The Vanishing Languages of the Pacific Rim. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 3–24.  

Salminen, T. 1993-­‐9. UNESCO Red Book on Endangered Languages: Europe. http://www.helsinki.fi/~tasalmin/europe_report.html

UNESCO 2003 Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in the Information Society (CI-­‐2003/WS/7)

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Ethnolinguistic Repertoires in American English

Elaine Chun – University of South Carolina
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-3:20 pm
2347 Mason Hall

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This course explores the relationship between the English language and ethnicity in the United States by merging anthropological understandings of race and ethnicity with sociolinguistic methods of description and analysis. In doing so, it introduces students to both traditional and current models of language and ethno-racial identity. Specifically, the course explores sociolinguistic assumptions that may equate “race/ethnicity” with “non-whiteness,” that overlook the inherent relationships between racial categories, and that treat race as isolatable dimension. It will also question conceptions of ethno-racial language as an objective set of features by considering how language is a sociocultural set of practices and resources that produce meanings, identities, and ideologies.

The course will introduce students to a range of ethnolectal models that have been traditionally adopted as well as the problems and politics inherent in them. In particular, it will explore sites across the United States that complicate traditional models, including communities in which groups defy easy categorization in a black-white racial paradigm, cases in which speakers use features associated with racial outgroups, and speakers who simultaneously index gendered, classed, and racialized meanings. The course will additionally emphasize the real-world relevance of studying language and race, namely be considering racist and anti-racist language practices in institutional and media contexts.

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Standard English, Prescriptivism, and Language Ideology

Anne Curzan – University of Michigan
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 am
2407 Mason Hall

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The prescriptive-descriptive binary, a commonplace in most introductory linguistics textbooks, can make it seem like prescriptivism lies outside the purview of serious linguistic study. This course puts prescriptivism at its center, as an important sociolinguistic factor in the development of Modern English as well as a key challenge to linguists in engaging the public in dialogue about linguistic diversity. In this course we will briefly cover the rise of standardization and Standard English in the history of English, and discuss the ways that morality—discourses of good and bad, right and wrong, pure and corrupt—has become entangled with grammar over the past three centuries. The course will tackle the definitions of Standard English and prescriptivism, as well as the nature of standard language ideology and authority. We’ll read a few key theoretical pieces as background and then address: (a) evolving attitudes about the prescriptive authority of usages guides and dictionaries; and (b) “grammar teaching” and Standard English in the educational system. At the end of the course, we will examine recent debates in the national media about language and “correctness” to think through how linguists can most productively engage in public discussions about language given the prescriptive language ideologies in widespread circulation.

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