Linguistic death

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  • 1. Linguistic Death - a result the teaching of English as a second language poses to learners with Fiji-Hindi as their first language.
  • 2. Fiji-Hindi
    • Also known as Fijian Hindi.
    • Spoken by Fijian citizens of Indian descent .
    • Contains words borrowed from Fijian, Hindi and English language.
    • Indian Indentured labourers brought into Fiji from many parts of India, to work on plantations, brought their own languages and dialects with them.
    • Thus a new language developed in Fiji; Fiji-Hindi
    • Fiji-Hindi became the lingua franca. There are some who speak Gujarati, Tamil, Punjabi or Urdu (mainly at home) but will use Fiji-Hindi as a standard language.
    • Due to the political upheavals in Fiji and other reasons, vast migration resulted.
    • Fiji-Hindi is a minority language AND faces great danger.
  • 3. ARE WE WORKING TOWARDS ANOTHER LANGUAGE DEATH?
    • The impression is that speakers give up their heritage language at their will.
    • Most speakers are faced with the dilemma of choosing the right one for the right occasion.
    • Do I use my vernacular as I am surrounded by English speakers?
    • Will I offend someone or my friends if I talk to Fiji-Hindi speakers in our own language?
    • Less and less young learners are using Fiji-Hindi; not even at home, at Indian weddings and functions. Most do not understand the language well (especially teenagers) and seldom take responsibility or try to learn/use it.
  • 4. So what is Linguistic Death?
    • The worry that a “global or more powerful language will hasten the disappearance of the minor language, causing language death”(Crystal, 1997).
    • A tragedy!
    • Together with the language, the cultural identity and linkage is lost.
    • A language dies when nobody speaks it.
    • Endangered.
    • Language shift occurs gradually and most often insidiously, noticed only after the process is quite advanced or complete.
    • Young speakers of Fiji-Hindi can no longer speak the language, resort to and borrow English vocabulary to make meaningful communication.
    • The language is slowly dying.
    • Together with it, the young no longer value and know their culture, folktales, mythology, proverbs, saga.
    • Instead know more of English and prefer it.
  • 5. English teaching classroom scenario:
    • Culture of learning-both by the learners and the teacher
    • Use of everyday resources, newspapers, internet, magazines.
    • Formative assessments, informal assessments
    • Learning strategies chosen by teacher/learner
    • Needs of learners-addressed or not
    • Environment-natural or artificial
    • Literature vs Language
    • Learning activities aimed at producing results.
    • Promotion to next level-pass or fail.
    • Teacher may not be a native speaker or may be excellent, trained and fluent in the language.
    • Literacy requirements-NCEA curriculum focused
    • Use of course books and text books.
    • Four strands
    • Peers of same age and proficiency.
  • 6. So what happens to a Fiji-Hindi speaking student in a English learning classroom?
    • Beliefs and ideologies inherent through the language and its associated culture clash with that of English, its culture.
    • The language (target) poses a threat to Fiji-Hindi as the student is surrounded by English speakers.
    • Teaching context may be entirely different.
    • Some learners “prefer to learn the language by studying it, while others prefer to learn through exposure and use” (Tomlinson, 2005).
    • Learning styles are influenced by culture.
    • Culture stretching/style stretching: learning through styles that are not necessarily their own preferred dominant styles. (Reid, 1987)
    • Language classes often incorporate the teaching of culture as part of their content. Does the new culture impose a threat? To what?
    • Students select language available in their repertoire.
    • Situations often constraint their choices
  • 7. Continued…
    • Pressure grows with mixed, integrated population.
    • Friends-socialisation
    • Introduction to culture (new), integration
    • Motivation, age
    • Learner autonomy
    • A new language, global/international-enthusiasm, excitement.
    • Minority languages lose their vernacular functions.
    • Many children are learning English at school as a foreign language endanger their fluency in Fiji-Hindi.
    • Children are no longer socialised into Fiji-Hindi as their primary language.
    • Thus the language does not/will not survive.
    • A slow process of each generation learning less and less of the language.
  • 8. The POWER of English Language
    • Globalisation
    • Industrialisation
    • Urbanisation
    • Spreading as an economically powerful lingua franca, hardly as a vernacular.
    • Job market, demand for the language, academic subjects in English, entertainment…
    • Socio-cultural influences
    • Media/technology
    • Greater utility
    • Prestigious
  • 9. Simply
    • Most commonly when a community of speakers (learners) of one language become bilingual in another language and gradually shift allegiance to the second language until they cease to use their original language.
    • This is a common situation as Fiji-Hindi speaking learners are constantly found communicating in English, even at Fiji-Hindi speaking functions and occasions.
    • Why do the young prefer English? What is the reason?
            • Its convenient-no need to switch codes!
            • They speak in English in school, use it whole day!
            • There does not seem to be a problem (not for them at least)
  • 10. Impact on the first language and its culture?
    • As said, young learners do not see any difference or problem with talking in English than in Fiji-Hindi. To them, it’s easier and has become part of life and lifestyle.
    • Elders can sense the danger the “ foreign language ” has on their own. Leading to:
        • Insecurity
        • Loss of identity
        • Panic
        • Culture and language shock
        • Language loss
        • Language extinction
        • May no longer be their native language
        • Thus a need for language revitalisation
  • 11. Is there a need to neglect the first language? Or are the speakers forced by the POWER of the L2 language?
    • Do Fiji-Hindi speakers need to neglect their own language in the midst of learning a more recognised global language?
    • Why hasten to adopt?
    • Is English really powerful that even minor languages such as Fiji-Hindi get drastically affected?
    • The POWER of the language, its DOMINANCE over other languages and its STATUS as THE language will end up many minor languages in the bin! Dead! Non-existing!
    • OR
  • 12. Should the right question be: Why is English replacing Fiji-Hindi or in that case, any other language? Can this aspect of language evolution be a result of globalisation? The agents of language shift need to be identified so that minor languages do not fear language death.
  • 13. English being the global and most recognised language in itself is powerful. Its power and importance is incomparable but cannot be ignored. Minor languages such as Fiji-Hindi also have their own rights and advantages. They are a mirror to their associated cultures. This also can not be ignored.
  • 14. References:
    • Crystal, D. (1997). English as a global language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 5-20.
    • Crystal, D. (2000). Language Death. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press.
    • Reid, J. (1987). The learning styles and preferences of ESL students. TESOL Quarterly 21, 87-111.
    • Tomlinson, B. (2005). English as a foreign language: Matching procedures to the context of learning. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning (pp. 137-153). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.