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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Music in Endangered Languages
by Garcia, Marie S., M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2011, 55; 10305694
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis is a multi-faceted exploratory work employing research in the fields of linguistics, anthropology and musicology and includes two case studies based on field research. Language endangerment is a problem for thousands of linguistic communities in the world today. It can be brought about by a multitude of forces, including natural or manmade disasters and geographical displacement and migration. The most common cause is gradual language shift that comes about as the result of assimilation secondary to or independently of any of these aforementioned causes.

With language loss comes diminished cultural diversity and a loss of human knowledge. Language preservation and revitalization efforts can help to stave off the effects of language shift and decline. Preservation generally involves documenting and cataloging information about the language, whereas revitalization involves an active attempt to increase the number of native speakers.

Music contributes to the success of language revitalization efforts because it provides a method of transmission for cultural information, evokes emotional and motivational responses in the people who interact with it, and acts as an effective tool for language pedagogy. In some situations where endangered languages have been revitalized or in which revitalization efforts are currently being undertaken, music has played an integral part. Psycholinguistic research shows that music is particularly effective in reinforcing language lessons by positive association and repetition.

The two case studies contained in this thesis, the first on Gnawa music and the second on Inari-Sámi rap, provide specific examples of how music is being used to promote cultural and linguistic revitalization. These case studies show the importance of employing consistent and well-organized efforts in the process of language revitalization if it is to be successful.

Keywords or phrases: Music in endangered languages Endangered Languages Language Preservation Language Revitalization Music in Language Pedagogy

Indexing (document details)
School: The American University of Paris (France)
Department: Cultural Translation
School Location: France
Source: MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Music, Language
Keywords: Endangered languages, Gnawa, Inari-Sami, Language preservation, Language revitalization, Music
Publication Number: 10305694
ISBN: 978-1-369-49258-3
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