Linguistic death


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In the midst of learning and acquiring English as a second language, Fiji-Hindi speakers are already losing their first language, nearing language death.

Published in: Education, Technology
  • Hi Vikashni,

    You make a good point (slide 3) when you note the misperception that speakers give up their first language from choice.

    It seems to me that governments can play a role in leading the move to retain multilingualism. I think that the revival of the Welsh language is a case in point.

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Linguistic death

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