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1 Standards, Dialects and Technology Matt Mac Cárthaigh Fios Feasa.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Standards, Dialects and Technology Matt Mac Cárthaigh Fios Feasa."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Standards, Dialects and Technology Matt Mac Cárthaigh Fios Feasa

2 2 Standards, Dialects and Technology Standardisation: What is it? Why should we want it? Conflict: Standardisers vs Native Speaker Communities Role of Technology Multimedia for Adult Learners

3 3 Standardisation: What is it? Standardising spelling Standardising grammar Standardising lexicon (corpus development) Terminology Public vernacular

4 4 Standardisation: What do we want it for? Facilitates language use in the following areas: Nationwide communication Education and development of literacy Second language learning High-domain usage Increases prestige of Xish, for both Xish and Yish speakers Maintains integrity of Xish as its own language, with its own grammar and its own orthographic system

5 5 Standardisation: What do we want it for? “Bíonn brú ar na ar na húdaráis chuí an teanga a chaighdeánú ionas go mbeidh cainteoirí sa phobal nua aontaithe i n ‑ ann labhairt lena chéile agus scríbhinní éagsúla sa teanga a léamh.” “Appropriate authorities are under pressure to standardise the language so that speakers in the new unified community will be able to speak with each other and to read various writings in the language.” Michael Cronin

6 6 Standardisation: What do we want it for? “Questionnaire item number two specifically requested input regarding dialectal use. The item read, ‘What dialect or mix of dialects would you like to see an Irish language textbook have?’ Eighteen instructors, 67% of the respondents, referred to some type of standard or compromise dialect. Sixteen of these specifically mentioned Standard, caighdeán, or lárchanúint.” Thomas Ihde

7 7 Conflict Standardisation of major languages tied to prestige dialects If not to prestige dialects, at least to language use by prestige groups Xish languages tend not to have such dialects or groups: the prestige group speaks Yish Various dialects of Xish have equal prestige, and equal practical claim to recognition

8 8 Conflict Standardisation work in Xish languages tends to be done by language activists, who are primarily second language learners This has linguistic implications: Learner language errors Stealth linguistic influence of Yish Suitability for learners prioritised Learners prioritised as a community

9 9 Conflict: Quotes “Murach na foghlaimeoirí, is beag atá i ndán don teanga. Níl aon mhaitheas teanga náisiúnta a bheith ann mura bhfuil teacht ag saoránaigh an náisúin ar an teanga de bharr constaicí gramadaí. Is follas go bhfuil géarghá le leasú radacach ar an teanga féin.” “If it weren’t for learners, the language would have no prospects. It’s no use having a national language if the nation’s citizens can’t access the language because of grammatical impediments. It is clear that there is a dire need for radical reform of the language itself.” Michael Cronin

10 10 Conflict: Quotes “By the end of the 19 th Century, this drive for linguistic purification and isolation had probably gone too far; native Basque speakers couldn’t understand the language that the Basque purists were advocating.” R. Marie Thatcher (Basque)

11 11 Conflict: Quotes “In addition to difficult orthography, unfamiliar words are another obstacle to popular acceptance of the new standard varieties. In standardised Quechua and Aymara, Spanish borrowings are purged. Lexical gaps are filled by archaic terms, metaphorical extension, or neologisms.” Aurolyn Luykx (Quechua)

12 12 Conflict: Quotes “The Commission has brought a Trojan horse into the semantic citadel, and in the name of protecting the purity of the language in effect hastened its colonisation:” “I still tend to use words like Hanuere for January rather than Kohitatea when I write letters, because it’s more familiar to me... I’m not denying the place of these new words, but it’s a form of Māori that I’m not comfortable with. I suppose I’ll get used to it and start saying them. When we lose our old people who are native speakers, this form of Māori language will eventually be used more widely. This is the Māori langauge of the days ahead. ” (Māori)

13 13 Conflict The fact that second language learners do most standardisation work also has sociolinguistic implications. Who owns the language? Who has the authority to say what’s “right” and “wrong”, “better” or “worse”? Who has control over the process? Who is the prestige group?

14 14 Conflict: Quotes “Since the establishment of a standard automatically defines other varieties as non- standard, these varieties (and their speakers) become doubly stigmatized, first in relation to Spanish and then in relation to the standard variety of their own language … Native indigenous language speakers are no longer considered the experts on how their language should be used, or on what constitutes beautiful, powerful, or correct speech.” Aurolyn Luykx (Quechua)

15 15 Conflict: Quotes “When a five year old has his language system treated as inferior from his first day of school, the resulting psychological damage is inevitable. Once this barrier is raised by school officials, the child begins to withdraw and his learning performance suffers.” Plaintiff lawyer in a Detroit court case about AAVE

16 16 Conflict This conflict can even have negative implications for the language revival movement itself. Sitgmatised native speakers aren’t going to switch to standard language, but they may well switch to Yish Native speakers may be excluded from higher domains The value of diversity which underlies efforts to preserve the language is belied by such developments within the language community

17 17 Conflict: Quote “Movements to save minority languages ironically are often structured around the same received notions of language that have led to their oppression. Minority language activists often find themselves imposing standards, elevating literate forms and uses, and negatively sanctioning variability in order to demonstrate the reality, validity and integrity of their languages.” Kathryn Woolard Language Ideology as a Field of Inquiry

18 18 Technology Technology has the capacity to ameliorate many of these problems Technology can and should be developed with the aim of empowering the end user In order to do this, information and choice need to be at the heart of the technology

19 19 Technology: Examples Spelling checkers Grammar checkers Language locales Localisation (of software, websites, ATM machines) at a more local level than state+language

20 20 Technology: Other Views To bind together virtual networks of speakers (Michael Cronin quote) “An endangered language will progress if its speakers can make use of electronic technology.” David Crystal Will o’ the Wisp, if not tied in to intimate Stage 6 domains of home, family, neighbourhood (Joshua Fishman) The Digital Divide

21 21 Technology: Other Views “There is lots of information on Anishinaabemowin on the internet. Some of it is all right, but I think that a lot of it can be misleading at times. You can’t swing a stick without hitting some new ager asking you to translate “Moon Eagle Spirit Walker”. As a result, the “genuine” Indian type of thinking tends to be obscured by new age clichés, manufactured ideas, and strange ways of talking. If you are learning a native language, ask a real native speaker. This is a good thing to keep in mind for anything, but it especially applies to native information posted on the internet. After all, the digital divide ensures that the most knowledgeable of our people (fluent elders) have the least access.” Paul Dearhouse

22 22 Multimedia and Adult Learners What is multimedia, and why is it useful? Same info presented simultaneously in different media (text, image, sound) More effective learning Information occurs naturally in multimedia Information is being repeated three times at the same time, and is thus reinforced

23 23 Multimedia and Adult Learners Anishinaabemowin Word lists on a web page vs. Multimedia CD-ROM

24 24 Multimedia and Adult Learners Best practice internationally: native speakers are the exemplars (slide show) Not always so in Xish There are practical difficulties Ideological reasons (learner prestige) Not in learners’ best interests, either

25 25 Multimedia and Adult Learners In multimedia, it’s problematic to use native speakers and standard text: If the native speaker is made to use “standard”, the speech will be artificial, with text-based phonology, and you’ve lost the benefits of using a native speaker If the native speaker speaks naturally, text and sound do not reinforce each other, they distract from each other, and you’ve lost the benefits of multimedia

26 26 Multimedia and Adult Learners Other approaches: Standard text and non-native speakers Choose one dialect as a prestige dialect Use native speakers, but mix dialects (Séideán Sí) Make dialectical versions (Fios Feasa) With books they have to be alternative versions With technology, they can be offered on the same CD or website, with user choice at the click of a mouse button

27 27 Conclusion What happens with technology in minority languages, therefore, and whether it is successful in making a positive impact on Xish revitalisation, depends not on the technology itself, but rather on the mindset of the people who develop it.


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