Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The narrativization of Kazakh proverbs: College students' language ideologies concerning "community"
by Aasland, Erik Arthur, Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary, School of Intercultural Studies, 2013, 212; 3524435
Abstract (Summary)

Kazakhstan, like other former Soviet states, seeks national self-definition. For Kazakhs, proverbs are the traditional resource for defining problems, making moral judgments, and suggesting remedies. As a result, the Kazakhstani government mandates instruction in Kazakh proverbs to shape the nation. How can anthropological and folkloristic tools be implemented to assess the language ideologies brought into play in this situation without crossing the line into conjecture?

Research into “national traits” using proverbs has validity issues since it relies on small proverb sets, fails to acknowledge the multi-voiced nature of language ideologies, and projects values onto the societies in question. More recent research utilizes larger proverb sets, surveys, and participant observation thus providing examples for addressing these shortcomings.

In my own research, I have incorporated these proverb research methods while also addressing the shortcomings of the “national traits” research by setting three delimitations of my research concerning language ideologies expressed by means of Kazakh proverbs. First, I focus on youth, the societal group most likely to change linguistically in an environment of language revitalization. Second, I only explore language ideologies concerning “community”. Third, I have worked with a speech community rather than attempting nationwide analysis.

My field research was completed at Kazakh National Technical University in Almaty, Kazakhstan. I surveyed students concerning Kazakh proverbs addressing “community”. Students reenacted the most familiar proverbs from the set, thereby narrativizing their language ideologies concerning “community”.

I analyzed the data using an adaptation of Goffman's frame analysis. The language ideology showing the most tension was individualism-collectivism. This cultural theme is best understood as a continuum going from individual to the extended family / friends, and finally to the nation. In their narratives, students grappled with the paradigm of strength in numbers and “elders” in the skits repeatedly opposed individualism. In the reenactments, students' agency received its clearest expression in terms of proverbs about extended family / friends. Thus the language ideologies concerning “community” showed the following frame issues (boundaries): 1. Tension over where the speech community should position itself along the individualism-collectivism continuum; 2. Scripts against individualism; 3. Preponderance of adaptations for smaller-scale collectives.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: King, Roberta R.
Commitee: Shaw, R. Daniel
School: Fuller Theological Seminary, School of Intercultural Studies
Department: School of Intercultural Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Folklore, Sociolinguistics
Keywords: Discourse mapping, Frame analysis, Kazakhstan, Language ideologies, Proverbs, Speech community
Publication Number: 3524435
ISBN: 978-1-267-58901-9
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