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chapter 1 Introduction Revealing Native American Language Ideologies margaret c. field and paul v. kroskrity The Idea of the Book All Native American communities have experienced significant changes as a consequence of their contact with European societies and their incorporation into the nation-states of the Americas. These transformations continue today as Native American communities affirm their persistence and attempt to renew their traditions as an expression of their cultural sovereignty. Native American languages and forms of discourse, or ways of speaking, are a critical part of these processes because they provide uniquely important cultural resources for allowing communities to remake themselves, to adapt to transformed social formations, and to recontextualize traditional practices to ever-changing socioeconomic patterns. This is an especially critical time for most Native American communities as far as their heritage languages are concerned (Zepeda and Hill 1991). In many communities highly fluent speakers are limited to a small number of elders, while in others that enjoy a larger number of people who can speak the language many bilinguals are using more English rather than the heritage language even in key arenas of language usage like language socialization. Most tribes and tribal members have become more proactive in regard to devoting time, effort, and resources to various programs of language revitalization. Heritage language maintenance and renewal programs have become a high priority for almost all tribal communities (e.g., McCarty et al. 2001; Platero 2001; Sims 2001; Yamane 2001). But decisions about when to speak heritage and/or other languages in a community’s linguistic repertoire and choices about whether to actively participate in language renewal efforts—or to assiduously avoid them— 4 field and kroskrity are prompted by beliefs and feelings about language and discourse that are possessed by speakers and their speech communities. Beliefs and feelings about language—and those about particular languages—are indeed an acknowledged part of the processes of language shift and language death that threaten many non-state-supported languages. These beliefs and feelings, which linguistic anthropologists term ‘‘language ideologies ,’’ vary dramatically within and across Native cultural groups. Some Native American communities, for example, have inherited traditions for using language that value linguistic purism, while others perpetuate traditions that value the adoption of loanwords from neighboring languages. In some communities speakers have a long history of regarding their languages as indicators of tribal or group identity, while in other communities speakers do not regard their languages as symbolizing the group. Yet despite the cultural variation in language ideologies and their acknowledged importance to understanding language change and language contact , language ideologies have been ignored by researchers until relatively recently. With few exceptions, the dismissal of language ideologies as a kind of folk awareness of language was standard policy in both anthropology and linguistics until the past two decades. Such beliefs and feelings, according to paradigm-setting scholars like the anthropologist Franz Boas (1911) and the linguist Leonard Bloomfield (1933, 1944), were not proper objects for scientific analysis because of their presumed inaccuracy and general lack of scientific authority. Today, however, we can effectively argue, as Michael Silverstein (1979, 1985) has done, that language ideologies are a necessary and critical part of any complete analysis of a language in a speech community. Since the 1990s a growing body of literature in anthropology and adjacent fields has emerged that has examined the importance of language ideologies as key factors in any analysis that would relate the language and discourse of any speech community to the sociocultural worlds of their speakers. Paralleling these developments in anthropology and linguistics are long-standing interests in American Indian studies on self-determination, cultural sovereignty , and more recent emphases on the ‘‘collective’’ perspective of tribal groups and the awareness and agency of Indian people (e.g., Champagne and Goldberg 2005; Deloria 2004). This book, then, is devoted to understanding language ideologies and their role in the sociocultural transformations of Native American com- introduction 5 munities. Though there have been a number of edited collections of research on language ideologies (e.g., Blommaert 1999; Blommaert et al. 2003; Gal and Woolard 2001; Kroskrity 2000c; Schieffelin, Woolard, and Kroskrity 1998), this volume is the first devoted to studies of Native America . This collection samples the language ideologies of Native American communities from a variety of groups. These groups range geographically from the Canadian Yukon in the North to the Kaqchikel Mayan communities of San Antonio in Guatemala in the South. Most of the chapters deal...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780816502219
Print ISBN
9780816529162
MARC Record
OCLC
754718544
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
N
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