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Language Death and Globalization

Presentation of: "Spread Your Asscheeks": And other things that should not be said in indigenous languages (Muehmann, Shaylih. 2008). "Expert Rhetorics" in Advocacy for Endangered Languages: Who is Listening and What Do They Hear? (Hill, Jane. 2002).

Mimi Shih

on 21 January 2014

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Transcript of Language Death and Globalization

Language Death and Globalization
Alessandro Perello
Camille Wang
Lawrence Lau
Stephanie Shih
An SA 368 Presentation
Week 3 Readings
Muehlmann, Shaylih. 2008. "Spread Your Ass cheeks": And other thing that should not be said in indigenous languages.
American Ethnologist
35 (1): 34-48

Hill, Jane. (2002) '"Expert Rhetorics" in Advocacy for Endangered Languages: Who Is Listening, and What Do They Hear?
Journal of Linguistic Anthropology
12(2): 119-133.
"Expert Rhetorics" in Advocacy for Endangered Languages: Who Is Listening, and What Do They Hear?
"With every language that dies we lose an enormous cultural heritage ...we lose the testimony of centuries of life."
-Endangered Languages Project
A critique of the ways "experts" undermine their own advocacy of endangered languages by a failure to think carefully about the multiple audience who may hear and read advocacy rhetoric” (Hill, 119).
"Spread your ass cheeks": And other things that should not be said in indigenous languages.
Jane Hill's 'Excercise in Self-Criticism'

I have in my own writing and public speaking repeatedly used locutions identical to those that I quote...
" (120).

In 2001, she was a professor of anthropology and linguistics at the University of Arizona. Former President of the American Anthropological Association (1998-1999).

Specialized in:
History, grammar, structure of Uzo-Aztecan languages namely: Cupeño, Nahuatl and Tohono O'odham
Language ideology, and the construction of ideology and identity in narrative and other discourse forms.
Universal Ownership
“Endangered languages in some sense “belong” to everyone in the world” (120).
“Over half of the worlds languages are endangered” (120).
The Gameplan...

1. Introduction
2. Expert Rhetoric
-Questions on Readings
3. Spread Your Ass Cheeks
- Questions on Readings
4. Comparing & Contrasting
5. Critiques
6. Personal Experiences
7. Discussion (CANDY!)
Compare and Contrast
"Expert Rhetoric"
"Spread Your Ass Cheeks"
How does a language become endangered?
Background Information
Educational Attainment
Main areas of research
Cucapa Language
What is and is Not Said
The Great Contradiction: “Now they want us to act like Indians”
Do you speak your language? Language Capacity as a Criterion for Participation
What Should and Should not be said in Indigenous Languages
Unlearning Cucapa: Last words
Cucapa Language
Endangerment of Languages Around the World
Past and Present Struggle
Incompetence to Speak their own Language
What is and is not said in Cucapa
Groserias (Swearwords)
Boundary Marker to show Insider and Outsider Status
The Great Contradiction: “Now they want us to act like Indians”
Shift to Recognize “Indigenous People”
Corrupt Government
Cucapa Identity and Indigenous People
What are the consequences of certain languages disappearing? To what extent is the loss of language good or bad for future generations?
What Should and Should not be said in Indigenous Languages
Assumptions and Stereotypes
Swearwords as a Claim to Indignity
Subverting Authority
Unlearning Cucapa: Last Words
Cucapa Language slowly Disappearing
Swearwords as Meaningful and Valuable
When Language Dies, a Culture Dies
What will the ramifications of the insistence on the language-culture link be in 100 years, when the majority of indigenous people will not speak indigenous languages?

Can you think of examples where you've used languages to undermine people in authority?
Hyperbolic Valorization
“Endangered languages are priceless treasures" (120).

I seek to bring to the reader a sense of urgency about the impending loss of our great linguistic treasure, and a sense of the priceless value the languages have, not only to the first Californians and to linguists, but to all of us
" (Hinton qtd in Hill, 121)

Everyone should be concerned, because it is everyone's loss
" (Crystal qtd in Hill, 121).
Her Critique
There's some nuance. With the loss of language the world loses an important part of the "sum of human knowledge" (Hinton qtd in Hill, 121). Linguists largely agree.

Speakers of endangered languages
1. Rhetoric can sound like a threat to expropriate a resource.

2. The discourse of local control of language, intellectual property, and of theft by indigenous groups all challenge the theme of universal ownership. (ex. Hopi Tribe dictionary).
A critique using ethnographic case study.
Language is not a repository for culture.
Language capacity ≠ indigenous authenticity
Hill offers solutions and replacements.
Critique analyzing the “rhetoric of advocacy for endangered languages” .
Largely analyzes other scholarly works and some of her own.
First hand accounts and stories straight from the source.
Critiques offering critical perspectives
Globalization and universal ownership.
Seek to better advocate endangered languages and indigenous rights.
Deliberate extermination or assimilation.
Urgency and call to action.
Is language one of the greatest repositories of culture? As immigrants or first, second and etc. generations, do you believe you lose your culture or heritage as each generation progresses?
Should endangered languages be globalized and made a priority during efforts to 'revitalize' indigenous identity?
Languages Matter
Language death and culture loss
Language ties with identity
language tells history
songs, etc.
Language Death
language affects one's way of thinking and enlightens knowledge

example (given by Patricia Ryan)
The Catalogue of Endangered Languages on this site shows that more than 40% of all languages are endangered and at risk of extinction.
Language Imperialsm
Linguistic Imperialism
Is "Globalish" possible? And what do you think the statement says that some languages are dying inevitably due to developments?
language death has been occurring throughout history
speakers choose to let them die
an inevitable step for development
languages are used to draw ring around groups
different languages slow the flow of knowledge
Major Talking Points
Her Critique
Is Jane Hill helping or hurting the cause of language protection with her critique? Why or why not?

Is there a particular point in her argument you identify with?

After watching the Endangered Languages clip which of Hill's themes arise?

Endangered languages as "priceless" and "treasures"

"[T]he loss of local languages . . . has meant irretrievable loss of diverse and interesting intellectual wealth, the priceless products of human mental industry" (Hale qtd. in Hall, 124)

Hinton calls the endangered languages of indigenous California "our great cultural treasure" (qtd. in Hall, 123)

This discourse is linguists' attempt to challenge views that indigenous languages are"barbarous and deficient" (123).

This theme "effects a conversion of such languages into elite goods in a stratified linguistic economy" (124).

Among language custodians this theme appears, but minimally and mostly among those in the late stage of language shifts.
Her Critique
Krauss, often cited in textbooks suggests that "only 10 percent of the approximately 6,000 languages spoken today are likely to survive into the end of the next century" (128).
[C]ensus is an important gesture of power (127). It's about governing people, and was a major form knowledge in
colonial regimes.

It assumes languages
be atomized and individualized into a sort of unit.

Issue of dialects and language designation. New claims of language autonomy.

Her conclusion

- human specifics over numbers.
- human intellect over "treasure", "price"

Rhetoric of human rights useful for advocacy, avoids commodifcation. It makes them practical properties of human beings.
Full transcript