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B. Nahkala deBlij Chapter 6 Notes
Field Note: What Should I say?
Brussels, Belgium - extremely bilingual, using English, Flemish and French.
Two signs were everywhere(for different languages).
Maps at a global scale hide the underlying complexities.
Flemish to the north, French to the south.
The capital is in the north, yet 85% of the people speak French.
In the 19th century, French speakers controlled industry and government.
A partition in the 1960's made it able for northerners to speak their language and limited French influences.
This caused a major political turmoil but eventually the economy shifted to the north, and unemployment rates soared in the south.
Now decisions are made within the individual governments (mostly).
Brussels is now the capital of the European Union.
Question: Distribution, how they diffuse, change and become extinct, and how they make places unique.
Why are languages distributed the way they are?
Before mapping, geographers classify languages into families and subfamilies based on how related they are.
Subfamilies connect more common languages with more recent origins.
6.7 - Map of world languages - PIE is most widely dispersed, Chinese holds the most speakers.
Many language families are dwindling, remoteness helps keep them alive.
Many oddities are shown by the map. Madagascar belongs to the Austronesian family because people crossed the Indian Ocean to live there.
When classifying, linguists look for similarities and differences, such as sound shifts.
French, Italian and Spanish all share a Latin background and linguists look for similar words.
Milk - Lacte (Latta, leche, lait)
Jakob Grimm found that consonants softened as they progressed through time.
William Jones found similarities between Sanskrit, Greek and Latin (2 centuries ago).
Combined with Grimm's theory, the Proto-Indo-European language was starting to take form.
Reconstructing the vocab of P-I-E and its ancient ancestor
Linguists use backward reconstruction to an extinct language, then use deep reconstruction.
Russian linguists Vladislav Illich-Svitych and Aharon Dolgopolsky found key characteristics of the PIE and also its ancestor, the Nostratic language.
Nostratic - also ancestor of the Karvelian, uralic-Altaic, Dravidian, and Afro-Asiatic languages.
Locating the hearth of P-I-E
August Schleicher first introduced language divergence and by following the tree back you can find the hearth.
However, languages also converge, making it harder to find the hearth of the family.
This causes rules to be unreliable or they might not even apply.
PIE is theorized to have started around the Black Sea or in east-central Europe.
People used horses, had a wheel, and traded widely in many goods.
Diffusion took 5000 to 9000 years, following agricultural roots.
Colin Renfrew - hypothesized the Fertile crescent as the center of the diffusion routes.
Stephen Oppenheimer - and many other believe it diffused from central Africa and eventually from India 50,000 years ago.
Tracing the Routes of diffusion of P-I-E
Many theories how, why and where languages diffuse, and a common aspect of the PIE is Europe.
One main theory of diffusion of PIE was the conquest theory.
The majority of geographers support this theory.
Agricultural theory - took 1500 years which matches the time period, but left pockets of languages.
Luca Cavalli-Sforza and Albert Ammerman
Gained support in 1991 - study of genes showed farmers mixed with the native people.
Many geographers prefer the dispersal theory as well.
The Languages of Europe
About half of the world speaks Indo-European languages.
The Indo-European family is broken into subfamiles such as Romance. Germanic, and Slavic.
Romance languages are in areas the the Roman Empire controlled but did not overwhelm.
Germanic reflect the expansion of people from northern to west and south Europe.
Slavic was born in present day Ukraine and spread outward.
It came to dominate eastern Europe.
Strong correlation between languages and the political organization of space.
Exceptions: French extends into Belgium, Switzerland and Italy.
Eastern Europe has a strong mix and is complex.
Uralic and Alaic also thrive in languages such as Finnish, Estonian, and Hungarian.
The Basque language survived on the boundary between France and Spain, not combining with other languages and was given autonomy in 1979 in the Spanish constitution.
Languages of Subsaharan Africa
Niger-Congo family dominates most of Subsaharan Africa.
The oldest languages in Subsaharan Africa are the Khoisan languages which include a "click" sound.
Those languages shrunk when Bantu languages invaded.
Nigeria has more than 100 million people speaking more than 400 languages.
The three main ones are: Hausa(north 35 million), Yoruba(sw 25 million), and Ibo(se 20 million).
The rest are spoken by usuaully less than 1 million, yet survive because of the connection of their own local culture.
If not for the British, Nigeria would never have been a country.
Nigerian children are forced to learn English, but some think it could be spent learning more important things and
it would be better to get rid of English because many of them wont need it to function in society.
What role does language play in making places?
Geographer Yi-Fu Tuan researched the importance of languages in making places, and how it is a tool in making places.
By naming a place people give that place character(name called toponym).
By knowing the name you can get a glimpse at the history.
George Stewart recognized 10 different types of place names:
descriptive, associative, commemorative, commendatory, possession
incidents, folk culture, manufactured, shift names, mistakes
Reveals many clusters of migrants.
Brazil - Portugese and German toponyms - blume=flower=German toponym
Some places have more than one name(Falkalands by British, Malvinas by Argentinians)
United States Board on Geographic Names
By changing the toponym the have the power to wipe out the past and create a new one.
Town in Wales renamed to longest name in the world.
Changes in place-name clarifies the cultural landscape.
Kenai Peninsula - Alaska
After many countries became independent in Africa and Asia they changed the names of many of their countries.
They also changed many of the town names, but did not totally wipe them out.
EX. Gold Coast/Ghana Nyasaland/Malawi East Pakistan/Bangladesh
Mobutu Sese Seko changed Congo to Zaire, as well as the money and river.
Then Laurent Kabila in 1997 changed it to the DRC, and again maps changed.
With the collapse of the Soviet Regime many names are returning to their Czarist-era names.
Many places memorialize an important person or event.
The civil rights movement affected many names in the South, often street names - Derek Alderman
He studied the street names commemorating MLK and found that most were in generally poorer areas with more African Americans.
Commodification of Toponyms
Buying and selling toponyms is growing(popular culture).
Disney created a Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris hoping to use the success of Disneyworld to attract people.
What are Languages, and what role do languages play in our culture?
Globalization of culture and preservation of local and national culture - are they contradictory?
Preserving language is key when trying to keep a culture.
The French have tried since 1635 to preserve the french language - (creation of Academie Francaise)
The French have banned use of foreign words, made french the official language, unless there's no good translation.
Language is an integral part of culture, reflecting and shaping it.
Language and Culture
Language limits our very thoughts.
To lose our thoughts, expressions and dreams is to lose a lot.
To understand the role of a language, look at those who have been forced to lose there's.
For example, the US forced American Indians to learn English.
Clare Swan - Dena'ina Indian(Alaska) - "they became invisible, they had to think with someone's else's words"
Language shows how people view reality.
Some Africans do not have a word for god.
Some Asian languages have no tenses for showing chronological events.
Language is also a source of conflict and political strife.
Spanish speakers argue in the US and in Quebec laws are trying to be passed to preserve their french language.
Not everyone in Quebec speaks french, and call for independence is waning, but yet some still try to remain loyal to the french language.
Advanced societies are likely to have a standard language.
Ireland forces government employees to learn the Irish language.
How the standard language is chosen depends on who has the power.
Variants of a standard language along regional/ethnic lines.
More often, dialects are marked by actual differences in vocabulary.
Isogloss - boundary within which a linguistic feature occurs.
Hans Kurath - published atlases of dialects in the US
North, south and midland
Bert Vaux - more recent survey
Two people can understand each other when speaking.
Some geographers think MI has to be within a dialect, not a language.
Some dialects can not understand another of the same lanugage.
Yet some languages can communicate with other languages(Danish and Norwegian, Serbian and Croatian)
Max Weinreich - "Language is a dialect with an army"
Dialect chains - farther = less similar
Languages are actually an umbrella for a collection of dialects.
How do languages diffuse?
A few thousand years ago there were many many languages, but large, powerful empires helped spread and encourage the use of one language.
Example: Roman empire in Europe and the Han empire in China.
In the Middle Ages the invention of the printing press and rise of nation-states helped spread literacy and stabilize some languages.
Johann Gutenburg perfected the press in 1440, which allowed languages to print texts in their own language (help stabilize).
Nation-States tried to promote common culture/languages.
Increasing spatial interaction/technology is helping bridge barriers.
Lingua Franca - Used among speakers of different languages for trade and commerce.
When two languages combine parts of their language to simplify it, it is called a pidgin language.
The first lingua franca came from the 1200's in the Mediterranean when the Franks began sea trade and mixed with Italian/Greek/Arabic/Spanish.
Arabic was the lingua franca with the spread of Islam, while English was in the colonial era.
Swahili is the lingua franca in East Africa, yet many speak their local language as well.
Creole - pidgin language that developed a complex structure and became the native language of a people.
To have all countries be monolingual we would need more than 3000 independent states.
Japan, Uruguay, Venezuala, Poland, And Lesotho are the only multilingual states, yet even they have small numbers of people that speak other languages.
In multilingual states, the different languages show strong cultural pluralism and divisive forces.
Multilingualism takes several forms: two major languages,
languages that correspond with states, and regional identities.
Multilingual countries usually adopt an official language, usually the one of the colonizers.
Many African countries have adopted English, French, or Portuguese as their official language even thought they have independence.
Some countries take up two languages as their official languages(India, Tanzania, Mauritania).
India has 22 official languages, those in the constitution and those claimed by individual states.
The official language reflects the countries history.
The European Union recognizes 20 official languages and the United Nations has 6.
More and more people are using English (now lingua franca), because of its imprint on popular culture and technology.
There are many examples the English will not become a globalized language, as most places will not just give up their language.
English will, however, most likely be used the the international language for commerce.
Yet, economic and political influences are always in flux, nothing is inevitable.