Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Linguistic Value, Speakerhood, and Community in Scottish Gaelic and Breton Language Revitalization
by Patton, Colleen, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2020, 232; 28151388
Abstract (Summary)

Following several decades of dedicated language revitalization efforts, much recent sociolinguistics research in Europe examines on the development of “new speakers” and their role in wider revitalization strategies, and the linguistic practices of children who acquire the language in educational contexts with little complementary linguistic support in their home life. The purpose of this dissertation is to evaluate the impact of powerful institutional structures on the creation and perpetuation of narratives of value, authority, and belonging in Scottish Gaelic and Breton, two minority Celtic languages spoken in Scotland and France, respectively.

Drawing on notes from ethnographic research and participant observation undertaken in Scotland and in Brittany, as well as transcripts from interviews, this dissertation makes three primary claims:

1. Top-down implementation of language revitalization policy, planning, and activities in high prestige power structures can continue to disenfranchise speakers who are not involved in those structures. Moreover, this privileges the particular varieties of Gaelic and Breton that are most closely aligned to the standard used in institutions.

2. Understanding of community membership and refining the description of “new speakers” of Gaelic and Breton can be enriched by elevating the role of pragmatic language use and style instead of focusing primarily on means of language acquisition or proficiency.

3. Geographic and demographic changes to language community boundaries are largely split into enduring perceptions of traditional and non-traditional areas; Because of this, evidence of speakerhood or existence of small local communities of language users in non-traditional language areas can be directly rejected or avoided using a ‘language-as-tool’ discourse.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Carnie, Andrew, Moal, Stefan
Commitee: Zepeda, Ofelia, Combs, Mary Carol, Warner, Natasha
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 82/4(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Sociolinguistics, Language, Bilingual education
Keywords: Breton, Language planning, Language policy, Language revitalization, Linguistic anthropology, Scottish Gaelic
Publication Number: 28151388
ISBN: 9798678199195
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