A Linguistic Anthropology of Praxis and Language Shift: Arvanitika (Albanian) and Greek in Contact

A Linguistic Anthropology of Praxis and Language Shift: Arvanitika (Albanian) and Greek in Contact

A Linguistic Anthropology of Praxis and Language Shift: Arvanitika (Albanian) and Greek in Contact

A Linguistic Anthropology of Praxis and Language Shift: Arvanitika (Albanian) and Greek in Contact

Synopsis

Lukas D. Tsitsipis explores a case of linguistic shift in the Balkans. He focuses on Arvanitika, an Albanian variety spoken in Greece which is under threat through a process of attrition. Various factors relating the linguistic to the non-linguistic aspects of the shift are examined in detail. The emphasis is on both the macro-processes responsible for the shift as they emerge from the broader sociopolitical conditions of the Greek nation-state, and on the local communities' discourse as a complex response to these forces. Pragmatic aspects of discourse, power relations, the surfacing of linguistic ideology, and aspects of performance all figure prominently in a synthesis which shows that speakers are active respondents to social and political pressures. The author derives his inspiration from theoretical and methodological traditions in linguistic anthropology, but with political theory becomes as a central concern. In a period when linguistic anthropology is becoming reflexive and facing its social responsibilities, language shift is a locus for critical reflection: discourse about languages is ultimately discourse about human beings and the political process. Series Information Series Editor: Professor Suzanne Romaine, Merton College, University of Oxford Series ISBN: 0-19-961466-0 Series Description: Most of the world's speech communities are multilingual, and contact between languages is thus an important force in the everyday lives of most people. Studies of language contact should therefore form an integral part of work in theoretical, social, and historical linguistics. This series makes available a collection of research monographs which present case studies of language contact around the world. As well as providing an indispensable source of data for the serious researcher, it contributes significantly to theoretical developments in the field.

Excerpt

As is the case with fluent speakers, with terminal speakers too the study of their sociolinguistic profile cannot be exhausted with a discussion of their grammatical, phonological, and lexical competence. We must turn to their communicative praxis as this takes shape in their interactions with other community members. Such a focus furnishes the necessary links between the broader societal praxis, as discussed in the Introduction and Chapter 2, and locally produced oral discourse.

In the analysis of the clash of communicative goals between fluent and terminal speakers as a feature hindering a performance's coming through we got an idea of terminal-speaker metalinguistic enterprise (example 1 of Chapter 4). This central feature of their discursive conduct will occupy part of our discussion in this chapter too. Emphasis on metalinguistics, however, is not an end in itself. It is one step towards the discovery of a broader strategy adopted by terminal speakers for their communicative survival in a fluid and changing world. Even though social changes of the kind discussed in this book affect more strongly socially and economically active community members who also happen to be for the most part terminal speakers, references to fluent speakers' attitudes and speech will also be made. Language is understood here as an interactive phenomenon, and responses by fluent speakers as well as their ideological complicity serve as the dynamic context surrounding and interacting with terminal-speaker discourse, taken here as the focal event in conversations (see papers in Duranti and Goodwin 1992).

Sweeping restructurings in Kiriáki and Spáta, as will be remembered from the extensive discussion in Chapter 2, have caused a marked urbanization tendency to become a well-established characteristic of the vertical axis, the socioeconomic differentiation of local societies (Mekacha 1994: 103). Most young people from Kiriáki are attracted by the opportunities offered them in the nearby local capital of Livadhiá, which functions as a pull area in addition to the rapid economic transformation caused by the Aluminum company. Spáta, which is itself a pull area, witnesses its gradual turning into an Athenian suburb.

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