Power relations in a context of changing language use

Lead Author Reetta, Toivanen
Institution Contact Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights Faculty of Law Yliopistonkatu 3 00014 University of Helsinki
Co-Authors Janne Saarikivi, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki
Theme Theme 3: Local and Traditional Knowledge
Session Name 3.3 Vulnerability and resilience of Northern Languages: ways to move forward
Datetime Fri, Sep 16, 2016 11:15 AM - 11:30 AM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text The languages of the world represent a complex diversity that reflects human culture, thought, mentality and history in a variety of ways. Generally, linguistics, anthropology, social sciences and law have treated languages as more or less closed systems. At the same time, scholars have been interested in the variation in language and the linguistic behavior of the people that speak particular languages. Some scholars have postulated that all languages are “invented” and questioned the very existence of languages, speech communities and ethnolinguistic groups. This paper argues that denying the existence of a particular language may also represent denying the identity of members of minority communities, many of which fight for recognition as an independent ethnic and linguistic identity and stresses that in order to understand the processes leading to language attrition and loss of minority linguistic heritage, one has to create theoretical models that join the perspectives of contact linguistics and variation studies with a framework of careful ethnographic study of social identity and status position and critical research into power relations in a context of changing language use. The empirical materials stems from interviews in Finnish Lapland.
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