Consequences of Contact: Language Ideologies and Sociocultural Transformations in Pacific Societies

Consequences of Contact: Language Ideologies and Sociocultural Transformations in Pacific Societies

Consequences of Contact: Language Ideologies and Sociocultural Transformations in Pacific Societies

Consequences of Contact: Language Ideologies and Sociocultural Transformations in Pacific Societies

Synopsis

The Pacific is historically an area of enormous linguistic diversity, where talk figures as a central component of social life. Pacific communities also represent diverse contact zones, where between indigenous and introduced institutions and ideas; between local actors and outsiders; and involving different lingua franca, colonial, and local language varieties. Contact between colonial and post-colonial governments, religious institutions, and indigenous communities has spurred profound social change, irrevocably transforming linguistic ideologies and practices.

Drawing on ethnographic and linguistic analyses, this edited volume examines situations of intertwined linguistic and cultural change unfolding in specific Pacific locations in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Its overarching concern is with the multiple ways that processes of historical change have shaped and been shaped by linguistic ideologies reflexive sensibilities about languages and language useheld by Pacific peoples and other agents of change. The essays demonstrate that language and linguistic practices are linked to changing consciousness of self and community through notions of agency, morality, affect, authority, and authenticity.

In times of cultural contact, communities often experience language change at an accelerated rate. This is particularly so in small-scale communities where innovations and continuity routinely depend on the imagination, creativity, and charisma of fewer individuals. The essays in this volume provide evidence of this potential and a record of their voices, as they document new types of local actors, e.g., pastors, Bible translators, teachers, political activists, spirit mediums, and tour guides, some of whom introduce, innovate, legitimate, or resist new ideas and ways to express them through language. Drawing on and transforming metalinguistic concepts, local actors (re)shape language, reproducing and changing the communicative economy. In the process, they cultivate new cultural conceptions of language, for example, as a medium for communicating religious knowledge and political authority, and for constructing social boundaries and transforming relationships of domination.

Excerpt

Miki Makihara and Bambi B. Schieffelin

The contemporary Pacific is culturally and linguistically diverse, a complex, interrelated socioecological zone composed of islands with a variety of polities, including nation states (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga), and overseas collectivities (French Polynesia) and provinces (Rapa Nui or Easter Island, Papua) of nations. These political designations have shifted over at least three centuries as these islands were taken, traded, and governed by various colonial and then postcolonial states. Though some achieved independence, issues of self-governance continue to be raised by others, as is the case of the West Papua independence movement.

No one can ignore the profound historical changes that contact with colonial and postcolonial governments and religious institutions have spurred throughout indigenous language communities of the Pacific. in recent years, large-scale socioeconomic transformations linked to globalization, urbanization, militarization, and environmental changes have reshaped communities through the movement of people, ideas, and commodities. However, the effects of contact on languages and their speakers, though no less pervasive, have proved easier to overlook—especially given characterizations of language still prevalent in the West as a transparent, culturally indifferent referential medium. Contemporary cross-cultural contact brought about by activities ranging from missionization, education, and tourism to conservation efforts, sustainable agriculture, the extraction of resources (timber, minerals, petroleum and fish), and nuclear testing continue to influence local language communities in both predictable and unpredictable ways.

The essays collected in this volume examine situations of intertwined linguistic and cultural change unfolding in specific Pacific locations in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. They have in common a basic concern with the multiple . . .

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