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SEMINAR: 'You gotta have a purpose'

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Today's date is Thursday, August 06, 2020
'You gotta have a purpose' : Complex motivations for reinstating the intergenerational transmission of Australian Aboriginal Languages Other events...
If, as argued by Joshua Fishman (1991), intergenerational language transmission within the family is the ‘unexpendable bulwark’ of language revitalization efforts, then what are the perspectives of learners and semi-speakers of Australian Aboriginal languages regarding the reinstatement of language transmission in their own families and communities where this process has been disrupted?

Using qualitative interviews with 32 semi-speakers across four Western Australian language communities - Noongar, Wajarri, Wangkatha, and Miriwoong - my research examines people’s motivations for learning and teaching their heritage languages to children; their beliefs about how children and adults learn language; and the range of influences on these beliefs and perspectives. In this presentation I will present some of the main findings of this research, focusing on what motivates semi-speakers’ to learn and transmit their heritage languages to children, if indeed this is desired.

According to Gardner (eg 2006), motivation comprises not just motives (purposes), but other attributes of the motivated individual, such as self-confidence and expectations. A thematic analysis of 32 transcribed interviews similarly revealed that speakers’ motivations for language revitalization comprised of their reasons, but also their perceived agency, and their beliefs about who has ‘linguistic responsibility’ (Chew 2015) for children learning language.

Speakers’ reasons for learning and teaching – or having children learn – language included those that focused on revitalizing the language itself, and those that benefited the child/caregiver relationship. Speakers assigned responsibility for ensuring that children learn language to a range of agents, including themselves as individuals, the broader family, schools, and the government. Finally, speakers’ motives and their sense of linguistic responsibility influenced their perspectives on their own agency and power to affect their children’s language acquisition.

These complex motivations have practical implications for language revitalization efforts generally, and specifically for the question of what place intergenerational language transmission holds as a method of language revitalization within endangered language communities.
Speaker(s) Amy Budrikis
Location Social Sciences 2.63
Contact Karen Eichorn <[email protected]>
Start Fri, 01 Mar 2019 11:00
End Fri, 01 Mar 2019 12:30
Submitted by Karen Eichorn <[email protected]>
Last Updated Mon, 25 Feb 2019 13:54
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