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Linguistic Ecology
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  1. Linguistic Ecology • Today environmental isolation is no longer the linguistic force it once was • Inhospitable lands and islands are reachable by airplanes • Marshes and forests are being drained and cleared by farmers • The world is interactive

  2. The environment guides migration • Migrants were often attracted to new lands that seemed environmentally similar to their homelands • They could pursue adaptive strategies known to them • Germanic Indo-Europeans chose familiar temperate zones in America, New Zealand, and Australia • Semitic peoples rarely spread outside arid and semiarid climates • Ancestors of modern Hungarians left grasslands of inner Eurasia for new homes in the grassy Alföld, one of the few prairie areas of Europe

  3. The environment guides migration • Environmental barriers and natural routeways guided linguistic groups along certain paths • Indo-Europeans traveled through low mountain passes to the Indian subcontinent, avoiding the Himalayas and barren Deccan Plateau • In India today, the Indo-European/Dravidian language boundary seems to approximate an ecological boundary

  4. The environment guides migration • Mountain barriers frequently serve as linguistic borders • In part of the Alps, speakers of German and Italian live on opposite sides of a major ridge • Portions of mountain rim along the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent form the border between Semitic and Indo-European tongues

  5. The environment guides migration • Linguistic borders that follow such physical features tend to be stable and endure for thousands of years • Language borders that cross plains and major routes of communication are frequently unstable — Germanic-Slavic boundary on the North European Plain

  6. The Mosaic of Languages • Linguistic Culture Regions • Linguistic Diffusion • Linguistic Ecology • Culturo-Linguistic Integration • Linguistic Landscapes

  7. Urumchi, China • Urumchi is the capital of Xinjian Uyghur Autonomous Region. • Uyghurs are one of China’s 55 minority groups. • Because this resource-rich area is also a strategically significant borderland,

  8. Urumchi, China • official policy has been one of Sinicization whereby Chinese have been encouraged to move to the region. • However, most of the Chinese are concentrated in the capital city where

  9. Urumchi, China • sinage is in two languages. • Ugyhur, written in Arabic script, belongs to the Altaic language family while Chinese, written in characters is part of the Sino-Tibetan language family. • Together, they produce an alien linguistic landscape for most visitors.

  10. Language is intertwined with all aspects of culture • Comparative social, demographic, political, and technological characteristics groups are needed to understand the linguistic map • Linguistic cultural integration can reflect the dominance of one group over another — a dominance based in culture

  11. Technology and linguistic dominance • Technological superiority is usually involved in allowing one group to gain dominance over another • Importance of the development of alphabets • Certain cultures became more complex and dominant • Written languages advanced at the expense of illiterate cultures • Were invariably the invention of agricultural societies • Greek, Latin, and Chinese, along with other tongues, enjoyed early advantages because of literacy

  12. Technology and linguistic dominance • Importance of the development of alphabets • Facilitated record keeping, allowing government to develop • With empire building, languages tend to spread with imperial expansion • Imperial expansion of European and U.S. power altered the linguistic patterns among millions of people • Superimposed Indo-European tongues in the tropics and subtropics • Areas most affected were Asia, Africa, and the Austronesian island world

  13. Technology and linguistic dominance • In South America, the expanding empires of Spain and Portugal clashed in the fifteenth century • Signed the Treaty of Tordesillas in 1494 • Spain received control over all colonial lands west of a certain meridian • Portugal gained control over lands east of the line • Brazil eventually became Portuguese speaking • In most of the rest of South America Spanish prevailed

  14. Technology and linguistic dominance • When imperial nations gave up their colonial empires, their languages remained • English is still spoken in much of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the Philippines, and certain areas of the Pacific islands • French persists in north, west and central Africa, Madagascar, and Polynesia • In most areas English and French function as languages of the educated elite and of government, commerce, and higher education • Often hold status as legal languages, serving has link languages • Help hold countries together where native languages are multiple and divisive

  15. Technology and linguistic dominance • Affect of transportation technology on geography of languages • Ships, railroads, and highways usually spread languages of cultural groups who build them • Sometimes spells doom for the speech of peoples whose lands are opened to outside contacts • Trans-Siberian Railroad spread Russian language eastward to Pacific Ocean • Presently highway construction into Brazil’s Amazonian interior threatens Indian languages

  16. The social morale model • Model built by geographer Charles Withers • Explains the process of language loss incurred by conquered cultural groups • Placed in a lower social class • Lose pride in their language and culture, eventually abandoning both • Education system based solely on socially dominant language produces bilingualism • Monoglots, or persons speaking one tongue decline

  17. The social morale model • If conquered group literate, they will usually start to become illiterate in their traditional language • Often no legal or religious status is accorded the conquered language • Old way of speech considered primitive and its use socially degrading • Denying the oppressed language access to broadcast facilities can hasten process of decline

  18. United States reveals decline of languages other than English • Native Americans subjected to linguistic assaults from dominant culture • Indian children taken from families and placed in boarding schools • Indian children were forbidden to speak their own languages • In 1910, one out of every four Americans could fluently speak some language other than English (14 percent could in 1990) • Only Spanish speakers have had long-term success in keeping their speech

  19. Morale is not always broken by conquest and subsequent discrimination • Greeks have suffered periods of rule by Romans and Turks • Have kept their language • Remained convinced their culture was superior • Chinese absorbed Mongol invaders and made Chinese out of them • Sometimes languages of conquered and conqueror blend

  20. The economic development model • Also developed by Charles Withers • Industrialization accompanied by urbanization breaks up social structure needed to perpetuate an indigenous language • Transition from subsistence farmer to factory laborer is destructive to minority tongues • Particularly destructive when factory language is not that of the farm

  21. The economic development model • Industrialization tends to draw population from rural linguistic refuge area leaving fewer speakers of minority languages behind —process called the clearance model • If industrial development occurs in refuge area, speakers of dominant language are drawn in producing a changeover model — native speakers are overwhelmed by intrusion of foreigners

  22. The economic development model • Plight of Welsh language in Great Britain • Illustrates Withers’ social morale, economic development, clearance, and changeover models • Now stands at the threshold of extinction • Speakers were long denigrated • British educational system promoted English • Urbanization and industrialization knocked holes in spatial fabric of Welsh • Massive rural emigration followed to English-speaking towns and factories

  23. The economic development model • Geographer Keith Buchanan referred to decline of Welsh and other Celtic languages as a “liquidation” by ruling English to produce a loyal, obedient work force for mines and factories • Recently the Welsh language has been granted educational and media privileges by British government • Social morale of its speakers is broken • Largely aged speakers survive • The day nears when inhabitants may not know what the names of towns, rivers, and mountains mean • The Welsh may not even be able to understand their family names

  24. The economic development model • The ongoing achievement of independence by various linguistic minority groups could rescue some languages previously endangered —examples of Estonia and Latvia

  25. Language and religion • Occasionally a language is linked to a particular religious faith heightening cultural identity • Example of Arabic • Spread from a core area on the Arabian peninsula with the Islamic faith • Without the evangelical fervor of the Muslims, Arabic would not have diffused so widely

  26. Language and religion • Other Semitic languages also correspond to particular religious groups • We can attribute the preservation and revival of Hebrew to the tenacity of the Jewish faith • Amharic speakers in Ethiopia are Coptics, or Eastern Christians

  27. Language and religion Link between speech and faith can be seen within very small areas Example of Pakistan — studied by German geographer Hermann Kneutzmann Studied 17 languages in isolated mountain valleys in northernmost part of country Over 90 percent of speakers of 12 of the languages belonged to one of four local Muslim sects Language a mountain person speaks usually helps determine religious denomination

  28. Language and religion • Latin survived mainly as the ceremonial language of the Roman Catholic Church • In Iran, a non-Arabic Muslim land, Arabic is still used in religious ceremonies

  29. Language and religion • Religious books can shape languages by providing a standard form • Luther’s translation of the Bible led to standardization of German language • The Koran is the model for written Arabic • Early Welsh translation of a hymnal and the Bible helped the language survive • In Fiji, the Bible published in one of the 15 local dialects elevated it to the dominant native language

  30. Language and religion • Linkage of language and religion increase chance of nationalistic conflict • Greek/Christian - Turkish/Muslim problem in Cyprus • Armenian/Christian - Azeri/Muslim war • Battle against Nio-Saharan/Christian and animist tribal groups in Sudan

  31. The Mosaic of Languages • Linguistic Culture Regions • Linguistic Diffusion • Linguistic Ecology • Culturo-Linguistic Integration • Linguistic Landscapes

  32. Linguistic landscapes • 1. Cultural landscape bears the imprint of language in various ways • Example-road signs, billboards, graffiti, etc. • Can be a visual index to bilingualism or linguistic oppression of minorities • 2. Differences in alphabets render many foreign linguistic landscapes vividly alien

  33. Samoan, a Polynesian language

  34. Were?

  35. Messages • Both friendly and hostile messages are sent by linguistic landscapes • Often have political content—deal with power, domination, subjugation, or freedom (Figure 5.13) • Example of Turkey • Kurdish or Arabic speakers are not allowed any visual display of their languages • Linguistic landscape displays only Turkish • Linguistic minorities are visually reminded of their inferior position • Québec has tried to eliminate English-language signs

  36. Toponyms • Place-names • Often directly reflect spatial patterns of language, dialect, and ethnicity • Become part of the cultural landscape when they appear on signs and placards • Highway signs such as Huntsville, Harrisburg, Ohio River, Newfound Gap, etc. often provide a visible index to distribution of other cultural traits • Many place-names consist of two parts — the generic and the specific • The specific part of the names listed above (#4) would be: Hunts, Harris, Ohio, Newfound, and Hatteras • The generic parts, which tell what kind of place is being described are: • vile, burg, river, gap

  37. Wisconsin

  38. Wisconsin • This is a French toponym meaning “grassland of the dog.” • The French explorers Marquette and Joliet, following natural routeways from Montreal, reached this prairie site at the

  39. Wisconsin • confluence of the Mississipi and Wisconsin Rivers in 1673. • Alim, mean “dog” was the name of the local Indian chief. • “Prairie” is the generic and “du Chien” the

  40. Wisconsin • specific part of this placename. • Developed as a fur trading cener, it indeed became a rendezvous or meeting place, a notion incorporated in the civic boosterism of modern times.

  41. Toponyms • Generic toponyms are of greater value to cultural geographers than specific names • They appear again and again throughout a culture region • Every culture or subculture has its own distinctive set • Can be particularly valuable in tracing the spread of a culture • Often aid in reconstructing past culture regions

  42. Generic toponyms of the United States • New Englanders, speakers of the Northern dialect, frequently used the term center in the name of the town or hamlet near the center of township • Outlying settlements in New England frequently bear the prefix east, west, north, or south — the name of township being the suffix • Using these generic usages peculiar to New England we can locate colonies New Englanders founded as they migrated from their homelands • Westward through upstate New York, Ontario, and into the upper Midwest • Toponymic evidence can be found in Walworth County, Wisconsin

  43. Generic toponyms of the United States • Other generic place names identified with the Northern dialect—brook, notch, and corners • The trace of New England even reaches Seattle, Washington where “center” and “corner” are frequently used • Midland American areas can be identified by such terms as gap, cove, hollow, knob, and burgh • Southern speech is recognized by names as bayou, gully, and store (for rural hamlets)

  44. Toponyms and cultures of the past • Place-names may survive long after a culture has vanished, thereby preserving traces of the past • Australia abounds in Aborigine toponyms—even in areas where the native peoples have long since disappeared • Toponyms identifying physical geographical features seem to last permanently • Study of archaic names has greater value in the Eastern Hemisphere