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Sallabank, Julia and Marquis, Yan (2018) '"We don’t say it like that”: language ownership and (de)legitimising the new speaker.' In: Hornsby, Michael and Smith-Christmas, Cassandra, (eds.), New Speakers of Minority Languages: Linguistic Ideologies and Practices. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 67-90.

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In Guernsey (Channel Islands) there is a distinct lack of fluent new speakers of the indigenous language, Giernesiei. Examination of debates and unstated ideologies surrounding language teaching and revitalisation reveals that there is a degree of unpreparedness to share the language, since effective learning of Giernesiei might undermine traditional speakers’ language ‘ownership’ and introduce unwelcome language change. Yet older speakers express a desire for younger people to learn Giernesiei, and there is increasing desire among younger people to learn Giernesiei. Learners and new speakers have problems finding native or fluent speakers to practise with. If they can, and they try to use phrases they have learnt, speakers’ reaction is likely to be along the lines of ‘we don’t say it like that’. To an extent this hegemonic model has been internalised by (prospective) new speakers; it demotivates them and thus exacerbates the pressing problem of the lack of new speakers progressing beyond beginner level. Nevertheless, by no means all speakers agree with the ‘traditionalist’ view and there are examples of productive partnerships between older speakers and learners/new speakers. This chapter first reviews our previous findings on language ideologies in Guernsey before presenting a taxonomy of reactions to variation and change in Giernesiei. It then relates the mismatch between ideologies and practices to our research into the motivations, goals and experiences of prospective new speakers. The idealised ‘traditionalist’ perception of Giernesiei conflicts with the unexpectedly rich and complex variation (both dialectal and diachronic) revealed by our documentary research, as well as affecting the prospects for new speakers to develop fluency.

Item Type: Book Chapters
Keywords: Guernsey, Giernesiei, Language ownership, Language variation, Language change, Language ideologies
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics > Department of Linguistics
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of Linguistics
ISBN: 9781137575579
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2015 10:33

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