Linguistic Perspectives on Endangered Languages

A SKY Symposium

Helsinki August 29 - September 1, 2001


Tatiana Agranat

Relic of Polypredicative Syntax in Votic

The paper will be devoted to the syntax of some polipredicative constructions of Votic language. It is known that Votic language is the most minor of Uralic languages. In our days Votic speaking people live only in the same villages that Izhor speaking people, in addition they all speak Russian, so the fact that the Votic has not yet disappeared is surprising. The good safety of all Votic language levels has been described by P. Ariste, however the safety of ancient polipredicative constructions is surprising too. We will study one type of such constructions.

The author has been to two expeditions to Votic speaking people (at 1995 and 2001 years). During the first expedition the following constructions (1 and 2) and its translation into Russian were said spontaneously:
1.Miä kulin tämä laulu
I hear-imperf.1sg. pron.3sg.nom. song
'I heard that he can sing.'
2.Miä kulin tätä laulumass
I hear-imperf.1sg. pron.3sg.part. sing-inf.iness.
'I heard he sang.'

It was difficult to understand the distribution of these constructions because in Russian translation the phrase a) can mean I heard that he can sing as well as I heard he sang .

During the second expedition the author was told that such constructions were not used, only some people could remember them, but the examples 3 and 4 were received in 2001.
3.Miä näjn tätä laulumass
I see-imperf.1sg. pron.3sg.part. sing-inf.iness.
'I saw he sang.'
4.Miä kulin Mariolta tämä laulu
I hear-imperf.1sg. Maria-abl. pron.3sg.nom. song
'I heard Mary told he sang.'

Studying the four examples we can consider the syntactic category of evidentiality in Votic or, unfortunately, its relic.

So we can see not only the fast loss of Votic syntax and its changing to Russian calques but also the disappearance of a grammatical category.

Gregory Anderson

Switch Reference: A Newly Discovered Vanishing Category in Tofa

Tofa (aka Tofalar, Karagas), is a severely endangered Turkic language spoken by a reindeer-cum-hunting population who eke out a miserable existence in the eastern edge of the Altai-Sayan region of south-central Siberia. Only isolated speakers under the age of sixty are to be found among the total of roughly 40 fluent speakers, perhaps twice that number when considering semi-speakers as well. The remainder of the few hundred ethnic Tofa are monolingual speakers of Russian.

As a result of recent linguistic fieldwork by the Altai-Sayan Language and Ethnography Project (ASLEP) in Tofalaria, a number of new facts about Tofa have emerged. For example, in narrative discourse where superstratal influence is less pronounced, Tofa, like certain varieties of its sister

language Tuvan (Bergel son and Kibrik 1987a/b, Anderson and Harrison 1999) seems to make (or to have originally made) use of a system of switch reference. Formally, this consists of a contrast between a converb in the same subject construction (1), and a case-marked participial predicate in the different subject construction (2).

Unfortunately, although newly discovered (this is the first mention), the system of switch reference in Tofa appears to be vanishing due to a number of factors, including the effects of language contact and language obsolescence, and we may never have a full picture of the true extent of this phenomenon in Tofa. This paper presents an analysis of the system of switch reference operative in the endangered Tofa language in particular, and offers parallels to this phenomenon in other languages of the Altai-Sayan region more generally.

  1. ol bar-GaS-- ''kel bææri!''-- de-yidiri iresaN-nI
    he go-SS.CV come say-NARR bear-ACC
    'he went and told the bear 'come here''
    (ASLEP Field Notes)
  2. kUnzedi IGla-ar-da, kara-a kIz-a ber-gen cry-PRTCPL-LOC, eye-3 INCH-PST
    'they cried the whole day and their eyes turned red'
    (ASLEP Field Notes)

G = gamma, voiced velar fricative
S = esh, voiceless palatal hushing fricative
N =engma, velar nasal
I =barred-i, mid to back high unrounded vowel
U = front-u, high front rounded vowel


Anderson, Gregory D. S. & K. David Harrison. 1999 Tyvan. München: LINCOM. ASLEP Field Notes. Altai-Sayan Language and Ethnography Project.

Bergel'son, M. A. and A. A. Kibrik. 1987a-b. Sistema pereklucenija referencii v tuvinskom jazyke. In Sovetskaja Tjurkologija #2, 16-32; #4, 30-45.

Rusudan Asatiani, Oriental Institute, Georgian Acad. of Sciences

Some Peculiarities of Ergative Construction in the Batsbi Language CANCELLED

The Batsbi language (or Tsova-Tush, the designation now preferred by native speakers) is one of the North-east Caucasian Languages, which is spread in Axmeta region of Georgia. The 'Batsbi' population is approximately 3 000.

The verb forms in Batsbi are changed according to grammatical classes: transitive verb triggers object class prefixes, while intransitive verb triggers subject class prefixes. The verb form distinguishes also subject's person: if subject is either I or II person, the verb has suffixes originated from pronouns either in ergative or nominative case. Ergative form of suffixes usually mark the S of transitive verb, but at the same time it could represent the S of intransitive verbs, if these verbs denote active, dynamic actions and S acts according to its 'free will': E.g. ac voze 'I fall down (by freewill, voluntarily)'; co voze 'I fall down (involuntarily, by chance)'.

On the basis of semantic and functional analysis of the constructions with ergative subjects the following generalization could be concluded: Subjects in Batsbi are represented by the ergative case if they satisfy such conditions:

  1. The verb must be transitive: or
  2. (a) S must be either I or II person; (b) The verb must denote active, dynamic actions; (c) S must act according to its 'free will'

Generation of the verb form could be considered as hierarchical stages of formalization of above constraints:
marked by object class prefixes
marked by subject class prefixes
+free will -free will +free will -free will
marked by
ergative suffixes
marked by
nominative suffixes
marked by
ergative suffixes
marked by
nominative suffixes

By examination of the syntaxes of related languages we can suggest that Batsbi developed a fluid-S pattern (according to Dixon's classification) from an original ergative pattern, which is preserved in other languages of the Nakh subgroup of North-east Caucasian languages. Presumably this might be the result of the Georgian language influence, as far as the Georgian language strives for formal markedness of I/II-III

Paul M. Austin, McGill University

Karelian since 1991

Until the end of the USSR in 1991 Karelian existed as an unwritten vernacular historically spoken largely in rural areas of the Karelian Autonomous Republic. Scholars, many Finnish, investigated its dialects, structure, history, contacts with other languages, mainly Russian, and recorded songs, sayings, etc. In steady decline for decades, according to the 1989 census Karelians numbered only 79,000 or ca.10% of the population of 790,000 of the Karelian Republic in the Russian Federation.

Only ca.40,663 (51.5%) spoke Karelian as their native language.

Except for a few pre-Revolutionary religious texts, practical grammars and glossaries and materials produced in a Cyrillic-alphabet attempt at creating a literary language in 1939-40, there was no written language. Although there have always been few Finns, after the Revolution Finnish was declared an official language (with Russian) of the Karelians. It has been in decline since 1956 when the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic lost its union status and was renamed the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.

Since 1991 there has been wide-ranging attempts to revitalize Karelian and to establish it as a literary language. At the political level a bill to give Karelian official status lost by two votes. Practical measures include: the production of grammars and readers, teaching of Karelian established in schools, the publication of "Oma Mua," a weekly newspaper, and radio and TV programmes in Karelian. The goal of these measures is to establish Karelian as the symbol of the national identity. Countervailing factors include: the desperate economic conditions in post-Soviet society, the paucity of surviving native speakers, steady migration away from rural areas, intermarriage, and indifference.

On the sociolinguistic level a major factor has the inability of the Karelian élites to agree on a single Karelian language based on the major dialects, the most obvious example of which is the use of different letters to indicate the same sound: ü vs y; e.g "hyvä" vs "hüvä" good . As a result there are two written versions, each of which is often referred to as a "dialect." This inability to agree on a single standard for "Karelian" cannot but work against other attempts to promulgate a revitalized language in the Karelian Republic.

Angela Bartens, University of Helsinki

Creoles as Endangered Languages: the Case of the two Creole Languages of Colombia

According to some observants, Creolistics or the study of pidgins and creoles is coming of age. Although no longer considered "marginal languages" (Reineck 1937), it seems justified to claim that pidgin and creole languages as well as the corresponding speech communities are nevertheless marginalized not only "on the terrain" but also in academia, for example by those working on endangered languages although many communities are menaced by linguicide and some even by genocide (e.g. Fa d Ambú). I would like to make a contribution to the debate by discussing the cases of the two creole languages and communities of Colombia of which I have first hand experience: Islander (San Andrés and Old Providence Creole English) and Palenquero. I will discuss the current sociolinguistic situation and language revitalization and promotion measures largely made possible by the 1991 national constitution as well as future prospects. Marked differences arise from the specific sociohistoric and sociocultural ecologies. I will also report on my on-going research on Islander (1999: a sociolinguistic survey of San Andrés; 2001-2002: a contrastive grammar Islander - Caribbean Standard English - Spanish).

Sonya Bird, University of Arizona

Acoustic Properties of Lheidli Ejectives and their Effect on Documentation Work CANCELLED

My paper focuses on the phonetics of the Lheidli ejective series, and on how the difficulty in distinguishing them from voiced stops affects through errors in their transcription documentation and consequently language preservation efforts.

Lheidli is a dialect of Dakelh (Carrier) Athabaskan, spoken fluently by only 4 elders in the northern interior of British Columbia. Although there currently exists hardly any written material on Lheidli, a project is under way to train a group of semi-speakers to record interviews, transcribe and translate them, and eventually use the materials collected as the basis of a dictionary, grammar, and other resources. One of the issues that has come up in training the semi-speakers is the lack of systematicity in their transcriptions: words are often misspelled, or spelled differently from one token to the next. This is due at least in part to the nature of the sounds involved.

Like other Athabaskan languages, Lheidli has an ejective series ([t], [k], [kw], [tl],[ ts], [tsh]). However, the acoustic and articulatory properties of these sounds differ from those in other languages. As a result of their unique features, Lheidli ejectives are perceptually very similar to their voiced, non-ejective counterparts. For example, it is often difficult to distinguish [t] from [d]. In this paper I describe the Lheidli ejectives, and compare them to their Navajo counterparts, which are more typical. Using acoustic data, I show that Navajo ejectives involve larynx raising as well as glottal closure, resulting in a clear ejective sound as the pressure behind the closure in the oral cavity is released. In contrast to this, Lheidli ejectives do not involve larynx raising, such that when the closure is released, the effect is limited to some creaky-voicing at the onset of the vowel. I account for the differences in the ejectives in these two languages within current phonetic and phonological theory.

Having discussed the acoustic properties of Lheidli ejectives, I present transcription data showing that the difficulty in perceiving ejectives often leads to their being transcribed as voiced stops instead. This has serious consequences for documentation work (and language preservation) because many of the words in question are being written down for the first time, to be used as a basis for the creation of written resources on the language. If all ejectives end up being transcribed as voiced stops, it will appear to future language learners and researchers that Lheidli never had an ejective series. This raises important questions about the goal of documentation work. Should it be descriptive - i.e. capture only those distinctions that are perceived by the remaining Lheidli semi-speakers - or should it be prescriptive - i.e. capture the distinctions that we know have always existed in the language? If we choose a prescriptive approach, how can the semi-speakers be trained to distinguish between ejective and voiced stops in their transcription? In the second part of my presentation, I consider answers to such questions.

N. Dobrushina, Moscow and S. Merdanova, Moscow-Makhachkala

Imperative forms in Daghestanian Languages CANCELLED

In this paper, we explore the systems of imperative forms in Daghestanian languages, that is, the set of three main forms used with directive force: imperative (command addressed to the 2nd person - Engl. Sing! Fr. Chante!), hortative (command exhorting the speaker and the 2nd person to a common action - Engl. Let us sing! Fr. Chantons!) and jussive (command addressed to the 3rd person - Engl. Let him sing! Fr. Qu'il chante!). The paper is also purposed to demonstrate the ways of Russian influence on the usage of Daghestanian imperative forms.

Many languages use morphologically non-dedicated forms to express these meanings (e.g. present indicative for hortative and subjunctive for jussive in French).

The majority of Daghestanian languages also use non-dedicated forms for 1st and 3rd persons. We surveyed five languages in order to determine the set of formal means regularly used to express the meanings of hortative, imperative and jussive. The results are shown in the table.

(< Tsez)


(< Andian)


(< Lezgian)


(< Lezgian)


(< Lezgian)

Hortative particles + infinitive  particle + infinitive  particles + potential (particle) + dedicated form particle +

bare stem / infinitive 

Imperative dedicated form dedicated form dedicated form dedicated form dedicated form
Jussive optative optative dedicated form optative optative

Thus, the hortative construction is most often expressed by means of infinitive and particles (obligatory or optional). Particles meaning come and/or let s go are used in Tsakhur, Lezgian and Agul:

]a(w) xin mQ¹ni q'-a-s(-e)
come.HORT we.INCL song make-IPF-INF-(fut)
'Let us sing!'

'Come! / Let s go!'

Optative is the most frequent source of Daghestanian jussive. Note that particles are never used in jussive.

Daghestanian languages are strongly influenced by Russian language. Russian influence is also evidenced by the usage of imperative constructions.

Russian makes use of particles both in hortative and jussive constructions, while 2nd person imperative is expressed by dedicated morphological form. Hortative is formed by means of present or future indicative combined with particle davaj(te) (< imperative of davat to give ). Jussive construction is formed with present or future indicative plus particle pust (puskaj) (< pustit to let ).

Davaj spoj-em!
give.IMP sing.FUT-1.PL
'Let us sing!'


Pust spoj-et!
PART sing.FUT-3.PL
'Let him sing!'

The particle davaj(te) can be used as an optional particle with 2nd person imperative as well. In this case, it is often marked by intonation and forms a separate syntactic unit.

Davaj-te poj-te!
give.IMP-PL sing.IMP-PL
'Do sing!'

However, davaj(te) cannot be used in jussive constructions.

Russian particle davaj is widely used in the most of Daghestanian languages (Bagvalal, Tsakhur, Agul) in hortative constructions in place of original Daghestanian particles, cf. in Agul:

dawaj xin mQ¹ni q -a-s(-e)
davaj we.INCL song make-IPF-INF(-FUT)
'Let us sing!'

The particle davaj can be used in these languages with imperative and jussive as well:

davaj mQ¹ni q -u-raj!
davaj song make-PF-OPT
'Let him sing!'

Note that the usage of Russian jussive particle pust was not registered in any Daghestanian language. In this paper we will offer the functional explanation of the aforementioned facts concerning Russian influence on the usage of Daghestanian imperative forms.

Michael Dunn, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen

Chukchi and Russian-Speaking Chukchis: a Case Study of Language Shift and Cognition

This paper reports on investigations of Chukchi patterns of usage in the language Russian-speaking Chukchis.

Chukchi is a highly endangered language spoken in the province of Chukotka in the Russian Arctic. Although there are still several thousand speakers, there was an abrupt break in the transmission of the language over the 1960s, meaning that there are now extremely few Chukchis younger than 30 with any appreciable Chukchi language skill. Older speakers are mostly bilingual in Russian and Chukchi, although their Russian was usually learnt once they started attending school.

There is no evidence of structural change in Chukchi between the contemporary language and texts recorded a century ago. During fieldwork in Chukchi villages in 2000 I investigated Chukchi frames of reference systems. Three basic types of frame of reference system are observed in the languages of the world

The investigation was carried out using an experimental task (the 'Man and Tree' methodology), described in Levinson 1996. In this task, a pair of consultants each have an identical set of 16 photographs representing a man and a tree in different orientations with respect to each other and the viewer. One consultant describes each of the photos in turn to the other consultant, who must find the corresponding picture from the set arrayed in front of him.

In this task, Chukchi speakers consistently used an intrinsic frame of reference system. As Chukchi speakers are usually bilingual in Russian, the same task was carried out in Russian, both with bilingual Chukchis and monolingual Russians. As expected, monolingual Russians used a relative frame of reference system. However, Chukchi bilinguals tended to use the same intrinsic frame of reference system in Russian as they did in Chukchi. Further experiments with monolingual Russian-speaking Chukchis, showed that at least some people born after the generation of language shift also use an intrinsic system rather than a relative system in Russian.

The results of this study suggest that the aspects of cognition underlying frame of reference systems may be preserved across generations despite language shift to a language of a different type. Thus, in a sense the 'ghost' of a lost language may be visible in covert grammatical systems of the replacement language.

Fatima Eloeva, St.Petersburg University

Ossetian on the synchronic level - endangered language? CANCELLED

Ossetian is the official language of the Northern Republic of Ossetia ( Russian Federation) and is spoken in Southern Ossetia (Georgia) It is divided in two dialects - Iron , on which the literary standard is based, and Digor, spoken in the district of Mozdok. The written literary tradition started developing rather late in the second half of the XIX c. but the oral tradition based on folklore is extremely rich.

At the moment Ossetian is being taught in secondary schools and at Vladikavkaz university, and there is a number of newspapers and literary journal published in Ossetian , apparently nothingproves that Ossetian can be classified as endangered. Still it seems that in the frame of studies on endangered languages, Ossetian presents certain interest. One should take into consideration that in the epoque of the Soviet Union official Soviet statistics was giving the example of Ossetia as the extreme point of language assimilation. The phenomenon seems to have profound historic background, that has to be commented on. The acquaintance of Ossetians with Russian culture and language took place in the second half of the XYIII century after Ossetia joined Russian Empire in the period of reign of Elisabeth II. In the first half of the XIX century after settling of Ossetians on the plain begins the development of school education, based on Russian language.

The prestige of the Russian language becomes very high, many parish schools and so called ministry schools were being formed. The Seminary of Ardon started playing a very important role inthe education of the school teachers. So relatively early orientation towards Russian language became characteristic for Ossetians and in particular for the Ossetian intelligentsia. After the revolution this tendency intensified and acquired a certain political context.

Soviet Ossetian administration tended to limit to a great extent the use of Ossetian languageand was evidently aiming at russification. The last Ossetian school was closed in the 70-s. All these factors lead to unfortunate results - in the last three decades the tendency for language assimilation becomes even more obvious and the number of native speakers is getting rapidly reduced. So at the moment people feeling at ease within the literary standard of Ossetian (Iron dialect) are very rare. It should be also mentioned that it is easier to find native speakers for Tual (Southern Idiom of Iron) or Digor Dialects than for Iron one ( the latter is adopted as literary standard).In the milieu of Ossetian intelligentsia it is extremely difficult to find native speakers of Ossetian, Ossetian continues to be spoken in the villages while population of Vladikavkaz ( the capital of Republic) prefers speaking Russian and in many cases simply cannot speak Ossetian.

Still in the last ten years there can be traced a very evident tendency of revival of the interest to the national culture and language. Many representatives of Ossetian intelligentsia are making efforts to speak Ossetian and simply to learn it. Ossetians have realized at last that Their mother tongue is undergoing the danger of assimilation and total russification. Ossetian language suddenly becomes very prestigious, this is somehow connected with the political changes which took place in the last ten years in the post-Soviet society. Ossetian language again became part of the compulsory program of the secondary school. In spite of these new tendencies of language politics in Ossetia the process of assimilation and interference in Ossetian seems far too evident.

In this context in the colloquial use can be traced certain features characteristic for endangered languages - overall change of hypotactic constructions by parataxis, simplification of the verbal and case systems , disappearance of construction with very specific Ossetian form of Gerund and use of Russian infinitive in the combination with Ossetian verb to do, change of stress laws. (Under the influence of Russian) Very interesting conclusions concerning the processes of simplification and language change were drawn while the analysis of several parallel translations of the text of the Old Testament in Ossetian in the frame of the project of translating Old Testament into Ossetian.

Agurtzane Elordui, The University of the Basque Country

Variability on the Grammar of Endangered Languages: The Case of Basque

In this communication I want to turn the attention to the problem of variation, probably the most visible linguistic characteristic of endangered languages and one of the most striking research issues for studies interested in understanding the linguistic reality of these languages and their mechanisms of change.

In order to contribute to the study of the nature of linguistic variability in endangered languages, I will consider the case of two dying dialects of Basque: the Northwest and Southwest Biscayan dialects. Despite the restriction in contexts of usage and the reduction in the number of speakers, a great deal of internal variation remains in these Basque dialects. However, this variation does not carry the social meaning one finds in healthier speech communities. Variation in these communities is characterised by the lack of established model and by absence of social evaluation of the different structures used by speakers (Dorian 1985, King 1989).

In this work, I will address the problem of synchronic variation in Basque dialects from two perspectives. On the one hand, I will explain the social and sociolinguistic factors that are promoting linguistic variation in Basque. In particular, I will deal with two factors characteristics of diglossic bilingual communities: the low level of literacy of the speakers of Basque and the lack of a firmly established standard model.

On the other hand, I am interested on the linguistic nature of this variation and, in particular, on the tendencies of change observed in the structures used by different groups of speakers new speakers and old fluent and semi-speakers (Dorian 1972) . The analysis of these tendencies shows that variability in dying languages is totally linked to the lack of homogeneity among speakers. The different sociolinguistic histories and processes of acquisition of the speakers of these dialects are determining the patterns of variation. At the same time, this analysis demonstrates the importance of the study of variation to improve our knowledge about the relationship between language use, language acquisition and linguistic competence in endangered languages.

Alain Fabre, Tampere University of Technology

Kamsá, a Poorly Documented Isolated Language Spoken in South-Western Colombia

The paper considers the typological position of Kamsá, an isolated language spoken by about 4000 persons in the valley of Sibundoy (headwaters of the Putumayo, South-Western Colombia). Three languages are spoken in this small valley enclave: Kamsá (a language isolate), Inga (a variety of Quechua) and Spanish. Although Kamsá, still being spoken by small children in their communities, does not appear to be on the verge of extinction, it has been heavily influenced by Spanish and to a much lesser degree by Inga (Quechua). Most Kamsá speakers are bilingual in Spanish or even trilingual, adding Inga to their repertoire. The data published about the Kamsá language are exceedingly meager and consist of two small vocabularies, a preliminary phonological study and two corpora of texts. No morphological or syntactical sketch have been published, apart from a few notes here and there. I have been engaged in the "reconstruction" of Kamsá s morphology and syntax from two corpora of published texts, the first part of which I presented to the symposium "Languages in the Amazon and its neighbouring areas" at the 50th International Congress of Americanists, held last summer in Warsaw. What makes Kamsá an intriguing language is its geographical position between the Amazonian Lowlands and the Andean highlands. Typologically, Kamsá shows features of both Andean and Amazonian languages. This is all the more interesting since, as is well known, "intermediate" languages i.e. most of the languages formerly spoken on the Eastern slopes of the Andes have almost completely disappeared since the Spanish conquest. Kamsá can thus be considered as one of the important missing links in the chain of languages that formed the transition between typologically quite different language groups. The paper will highlight a small sample of features that will help set up the Kamsá language against the background of Andean and Amazonian languages: noun incorporation, presence of noun/adjective classifiers, and category of dual. Moreover, it will also show that the classifier system of Kamsá is typologically rather unusual.

Bibliography (only referring to Kamsá: further sources to be included in the handout)

Fabre, Alain 1998. Manual de las lenguas indígenas sudamericanas, 2 vol. Munich: Lincom Europa.

______ 2000-2001. Vocabulario español-kamsá con notas morfológicas y etimológicas (MS).

______ 2001. Algunos rasgos tipológicos del kamsá (Valle de Sibundoy, Alto Putumayo, sudoeste de Colombia) vistos desde una perspectiva areal. To appear in: Hein van der Voort et al. (eds.), Indigenous Languages of Latin America, 2. Leiden: Research School of Asian, African, and Amerindian Studies (CNWS).

Juajibioy Chindoy, Alberto 1962. Breve estudio preliminar del grupo aborigen de Sibundoy y su lengua kamsá en el sur de Colombia. Boletín del Instituto de Antropología, 2/8: 3-33. Medellín.

McDowell, John H. 1994. "So wise were our elders", Mythic narratives of the Kamsá. Lexington: University Press of Kentuky.

Monguí-Sánchez, José Raúl 1981. La lengua kame.ntzá. Fonética-fonología-textos. Bogotá: Publicaciones del Instituto Caro y Cuervo.

N. Louanna Furbee, University of Missouri-Columbia and Lori A. Stanley, Luther College

Language Death on the American Great Plains: Chiwere Siouan and Speaker Accommodation

We argue here that both positive, convergent accommodation and negative, divergent accommodation (Giles 1973, 1979) accelerated the demise of Chiwere Siouan. Indeed, the Chiwere data lend support to the social cause for language maintenance and language loss, and may point to a different direction for studies of endangered languages.

We examine two hypotheses about grammatical shifts in Chiwere that appear driven by accommodation of speakers - the collapsing of the consonant system and the restriction of second person pronoun forms. Accommodation Theory directed our inquiry as we attempted to specify language changes and to postulate reconstructions. In each instance, middle-level hypotheses relied on familiar formulations based on universals, especially implicational hierarchies. The study found some support for these hypotheses.

We tried both to recover the socio-historical causes of language decline and to retrodict the stages through which the Chiwere-speaking community has passed during the period of decline. Four stages can be identified through which Chiwere passed in its path to obsolescence; these may serve as a model for examining the language endangerment situation of other languages of the American Great Plains. Divergent accommodation accelerated the development of "family" dialects, which were disparaged by persons other than family members as English became the language of accommodation outside the home. The breakdown of speakers' accommodation to one another in a dying language can lead to dialect isolation and speaker intolerance of variability. Further, a politeness requirement of the society mandates that younger conversational partners invite the discourse of older persons and reply in brief, respectful responses to their elders, but not engage them in vigorous turn-taking (Furbee and Stanley 1996). That convergent accommodation permitted a generation to acquire only limited active competency in Chiwere since its members learned the language from elders in a home setting and did not use it outside the home with peers.

We urge concern with the unique aspects of individual cases of language death because to do so offers two kinds of information: First, it may give a more accurate appraisal of the general universal processes involved in language death. And second, it may hold particularly useful clues to what a moribund language was like in the fullness of life. Perhaps, before a language dies it may be revealing of a widespread importance attached to information validity and source. Not only may it be the case that an obsolescent language such as Chiwere retains unmarked elements in expression of the universal grammar, perhaps just before it dies such languages also reveal what was most important about them individually in life.

Lucía A. Golluscio, University of Buenos Aires and CONICET (National Council for Scientific and Technological Research), Argentina

Language as a "Contact Zone": Linguistic Resistance and Public Discourse in the (Re)construction of Identity Among the Indigenous Peoples of Argentina (South America) CANCELLED

The foundation of Argentina as a nation-state was based both on an agricultural, and cattle-raising economic project, and a monolingual monocultural ideological perspective in which neither the Indigenous peoples, nor their languages, had a place. Thus, a national programme of military offensives against the Indigenous peoples was systematically implemented during the second part of the 19th century. This policy of extermination, coupled with epidemics, and slave-like working conditions on the one hand, and the social, cultural, political, and economic subordination of the survivors, on the other hand, amply explain the low Aboriginal population currently living in my country, as well as the seriously endangered situation of these peoples--and of their languages. Nowadays, however, after all those long and dark years of "hiding" and keeping silent, the Indigenous population of Argentina is striving to become visible, and be recognized as "pre-existent peoples", a title granted to them for the first time by the 1994 Constitutional Amendment.

This paper focuses on the Mapuche (mapu "land"; che "people") living in Argentina and their language, Mapudungu/n ("the language of the land"). Despite the large number of population, Mapudungun spoken in Argentina is seriously threatened by many reasons: the best speakers have died, transmission is stopped in many families and communities, migration to urban settlements is significant, the pressure of Spanish is permanent, and the influence of the mass media is increasing, not only in urban, but also in rural areas . However, "the voice of the land is still talking"in their own words (Mellico and Pereyra 1997).

Drawing on the concept of contact zone (Pratt 1992), this paper aims to present the on-going Mapuche projects for language revitalization, as well as exploring the use of language and discourse in the strategies by means of which the Mapuche are weaving new ways of establishing a relationship with the national society while subtly stressing self-ness and difference.

In the first part of the presentation I will describe, briefly, the sociolinguistic situation of the Aboriginal peoples living in Argentina and I will then give an oral and video presentation of two Mapuche experiences of language and culture teaching, and transmission currently in progress (including the analysis of their metadiscourse about the activity). The second part will focus on the analysis of a piece of legal discourse, a document submitted by representatives of a Mapuche community to the National State in 1996. I am especially concerned with the implicit and explicit ideologies about their language and Spanish, as well as with the strategic uses of written Mapudungun that index language and culture in performance, as a means of orienting the addressee's interpretation according to the addresser's goal. Such a goal is both rhetorical--in the classic meaning--and political, since it is structured and shaped to claim for, and effectively exercise Mapuche human rights, which are, now, constitutional rights. Conclusions are oriented to the discussion of language as a relevant "contact zone", a social space where metadiscursive struggles are enacted, and where hegemony is challenged every day.


Mellico, F. and P. Pereyra (Mapuche Education Team) (1997) Zugulekay Mapu. Actas de III Jornadas de Lingüística Aborigen. Buenos Aires: Instituto de Lingüística, Universidad de Buenos Aires (pp. 407-412).

Pratt, M. L. (1992) Imperial Eyes. Travel Writing and Transculturation. Londres/N. York: Routledge

Kimmo Granqvist, Research Institute for the Languages of Finland

Finnish Influence on Romani Phonology

In my paper, I will draw an outline of the Finnish influence on Romani phonology. The phonological effects of Finnish have been manifold, including (i) the partial adoption of vowel harmony, (ii) the diphthongization of vowels, (iii) the emergence of schwaa in the Northern subdialect, (iv) the devoicing of the voiced stops, (v) the treatment of the original aspirated stops, and (vi) the simplification of consonant clusters. Some suprasegmental characteristics of Finnish Romani, such as the placement of stress on the first syllable and the distinctive quantity, can also be attributed to Finnish.

The discussion is based on a corpus of contemporary spoken Romani, available at the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland. At the time of my writing this, the size of the corpus is ca. 60,000 words. All speakers included are elderly Roma. The speakers are highly bilingual, generally with good oral skills in Romani.

Ekaterina Gruzdeva

Some Effects of Language Attrition on Nivkh Grammar

The paper discusses the various ways in which Nivkh grammar has been affected as a result of language obsolescence, currently occurring at a rapid rate.

Nivkh (Gilyak) is a moribund language spoken on Sakhalin Island and in the Amur region of Russia. Being a language isolate, it is traditionally classified as Paleosiberian. Typologically, Nivkh is an agglutinating synthetic language with elements of polysynthetism and morphological fusion. The East Sakhalin dialect, whose data is analysed in the paper, displays also some analytical features. Facts of contemporary Nivkh are taken mainly from the data collected during my field work on Sakhalin Island in 1989, 1991, and 2000.

Judging by various evaluations, at present the number of Nivkh speakers does not exceed 10% of the total population (ca 4500 people), i.e. is about 450 persons. All the Nivkhs who know their native language are bilingual and not only speak fluent Russian, but prefer to use it even in routine life. Current language situation inevitably leads to a number of changes that can be traced on different linguistic levels of Nivkh. Some innovations typical of modern Nivkh are the result of Russian influence, while others are evidently due to language loss.

The paper focuses on endangerment-induced changes that touched upon the case system, pronouns, numerals, locative adverbs, imperative, modal, and analytical verb forms as follows:

A variety of data presented in the paper proves that language attrition results in a general reduction of a language system, which, together with contact-induced changes, leads to gradual reconstructing of some areas of Nivkh grammar.

Prof. Dr. Teimuraz Gvantseladze, Arn.Chicobava Institute of Linguistics at the Georgian Academy of Sciences

About the Status of Abkhazian Language CANCELLED

Before Abkhazian conflict in 1992-93, majority of Abkhazian speakers were located in Turkey(150000 people), in Georgia, in Abkhazian Autonomous Republic, there were (93 000) people, in Syria (3 000 people) and in Russian Federation (3 000 people). Among these groups Abkhazians living in Georgia had the highest percentage of speakers of native tongue (90000 people or 96,7 % of Abkhazian population). They had better conditions and opportunities to use their native tongue at any branch of their activities:

a) Only in Abkhazian Autonomous Republic was functioning Abkhazian literary language, established in 1862.

b) Since 1926 by regional constitution Abkhazian, along with Georgian and Russian, was conferred status of state language.

c) Abkhazian children were taught their native language on every study level.

d) There were systematically published original and translated literature, functioned Abkhazian theatre, also Abkhazian media.

e) Abkhazian was regulated by Regional State Committee etc...

As in Soviet Union it was practiced antihuman language policy, which russification of non-russians, Abkhazian language also had some barriers. Particularly, in Abkhazia Georgian and Abkhazian never played the role of state language; For international relationships and official acts only russian was used; Majority of subjects in Abkhazian schools were taught in Russian etc; Therefore, during the 1980s among Abkhazians raised the level of denationalization, when majority of Abkhazians began to give preference to Russian rather than their native tongue. The influence of Russian was so assence, that it was reflected not only by dialects, but literary language was fulfilled with barbarisms, adopted vocabulary and phraseologisms (for example in 1986-87 there were 15% of Russisms in Abkhazian Dictionary but number of copied phraseologisms were more), in the language arose the Russian rules of utterance, appeared strange sound-complexes for Abkhazian, which changed the basic articulation of the language, big majority of Abkhazians could not read literature on their native tongue etc.

For Abkhazians who settled in Turkey, Russia and Syria, Abkhazian was a language only for monoethnic communication, and neither authorities nor NGO-s don`t care about this subject, therefore not only Abkhazian, but also Abkhazian identity is under danger.

After Abkhazian conflict Abkhazian separatists drove out Georgian population from Abkhazia and prohibited Georgian language, but it didn't improve status of Abkhazian language, as for keeping of good relations with Russia, they made Russian as domain language. Great quantity of lost during the conflict and voluntarily moved to Russia Abkhazians puts under danger existence of Abkhazian nation and their language.

Panu Hallamaa, University of Helsinki

Knowing the State of Endangered Languages: a Blessing or a Curse?

While the community of linguists have during the recent years become increasingly aware and concerned of language endangerment and possible extinction, this problem has not been widely investigated on the social level through field work. While there have been some qualitative studies (e.g. Dorian 1981) and historical studies (e.g. Hindley 1990), there have been few down-to-earth studies in the field, showing tangibly just how endangered some of the languages around us are.

Perhaps one of first sociological attempts to demonstrate the urgency of this problem was Sammallahti's (1981) study of one Alaskan village, the last stronghold of the Sugtestun or Pacific Yup'ik language. Vakhtin's (1992, 1993) studies in Chukotka had the same orientation, but were much wider in their scope and also different in that he presented his data numerically and revealing information on the level of individuals. Since both of these scholars presented their data effectively and convincingly, I have in my own field work followed their example rather than that of Aikio (1988), whose work I regard too positivistic, confusing, as well as ineffective in its presentation; she also fails to give attention to the main issue of language survival vs. language extinction: the transmission of the language to new generations of speakers or the community's failure to achieve language transmission.

My odyssey with endangered languages began in 1993 with an attempt do a follow-up to Sammallahti's 1980 study in Alaska. This was followed by more village studies in Alaska in 1994 and 1995, short trips to Finnish Lapland in 1996-98 in order to see if the method I had developed following Sammallahti and Vakhtin could be used to benefit the Skolt and Inari Sámi communities, and finally, two whole summers of field work in Russian Karelia in 1996 and 1997 in order to find out what the actual facts were there among the Karelians and the Veps. My motives for these studies were curiosity, shame over the fact that the Finnish scientific community had up until then neglected to situation of some of the languages spoken within our borders (although this naturally was not the case with regard to the documentation of these languages), and the possibility that sociological studies into language endangerment might beneficial for the language communities in question.

Having gathered data on a population of ca. 3 500 Karelians and Veps in three areas in Russian Karelia as well as seven Sámi communities in the Inari municipality, I am now confronted with the problem of weather my data will be useful or harmful for the language communities in question. This question did not arise with my research in Alaska, since this kind of data is actually a prerequisite for a Stage II language revitalization grant from the Administration of Native Americans. In Finland, and especially in Russia, however, the situation is quite different. In Finland it is possible that precise data on language situation could be used to the advantage of the language communities in question, but as yet this matter has not been discussed at all. So far public support has been given to the Inari and Skolt Sámi communities, and no need for my data has arisen.

In Russia, the state has given some support for ethnic languages, at least in some areas, such as the Karelian Republic. But the political situation is changing constantly, and it is highly likely that the new administrational bodies will show much less interest in supporting ethnic languages than the past ones. With this trend prevailing, it is likely that precise data showing that language transmission has ceased decades ago would in all likelihood have the effect that what little public funding still remains for ethnic language groups would be withdrawn more or less completely. In a discussion of the former president of the Karelian People's Union (Karjalan rahvahan liitto) in 1997 I was told that the information I have collected could potentially be very dangerous and should be published only abroad and preferably in English and certainly not in Russian, i.e. the results should be made available only for the international scientific community, and definitely not for political decision makers in Russia.

In my presentation I hope to provide examples of the linguistic profiles I have compiled for various communities in Russian Karelia and Finnish Lapland, indicate what can be deduced from my data and generate a discussion on the relevance of my data with regard to the problem of endangered languages and hopefully receive comments from the participants as to whether my data should or could be published, and what would be an appropriate forum for such a publication.

So far only my research in Alaska has been published (Hallamaa 1997) while only a small sample of my data has been published in connection of a general description of my research methodology (Hallamaa 1998).


Dorian, Nancy 1981    Language Death. The Life Cycle of a Scottish Gaelic Dialect. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Hallamaa, Panu 1997    Unangam tunuu and Sugtestun: a struggle for continued life." In Hiroshi Shoji and Juha Janhunen (eds.): Northern Minority Languages: Problems of Survival. Senri Ethnological Studies, No. 44, pp. 187-223. National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan.

Hallamaa, Panu 1998    Fieldwork Among Speakers of Endangered Languages: Methodology, Reality and Social Advocacy." In: Jussi Niemi, Terence Odlin & Janne Heikkinen (eds.): Language Contact, Variation and Change, pp. 70-97, Studies in Languages 32. University of Joensuu, Faculty of Humanities, 1998.

Hindley, Reg 1990    The Death of the Irish Language: A Qualified Obituary. London and New York: Routledge.

Sammallahti, Pekka 1981    The Teachings of Eskimo. Alaska Native Languages in Transition." Suomen Antropologi (Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society), Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 177-201.

Vakhtin, Nikolai 1992    The Yukagir Language in Sociolinguistic Perspective". In Jerzy Banczerowski, Alfred F. Majewicz & Witold Stefanski (eds.): Linguistics and Oriental Studies from Poznan, Vol. 1. Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan.

Vakhtin, Nikolai 1993    Towards a Typology of Language Situations in the Far North". Anthropology & Archaeology of Eurasia, Vol. 32, No. 1.

K. David Harrison

Nomads on the Internet: Documentation, Endangered Languages and Technologies

Language endangerment threatens native communities with more than simply language loss. Indigenous technologies and systems of knowledge encoded in these languages may also be lost. For pastoral nomads and hunters of southern Siberia
and northern Mongolia, such technologies include sound mimesis, animal domestication songs, and various complex semantic fields (e.g. animal naming systems, ethnogeography). These highly evolved technologies provide practical tools for managing natural resources. As languages disappear, the language-ecology link inevitably weakens, depriving indigenous people of the
ability to effectively interact with their eco-system.

Superimposed onto indigenous technologies and languages, we have the technologies employed by the documentation project itself.  Indigenous people despite a complete lack of exposure to 'modern' technology may have definite goals and expectations as to how computer technology may assist them in preserving their language and culture. These goals may or may not coincide with those of the scientists who do this kind of documentation. But documentation must do more than serve the linguistic community , it must (primarily) serve the indigenous language community. Reconciling these disparate goals and technologies thus becomes an important challenge in doing ethical and effective field documentation, and, ultimately, in supporting indigenous language revitalizations.

Karin Hoyer

Finland-Swedish Sign Language - One of the Smallest Minority Languages in Finland CANCELLED

Finnish Sign Language (FinSL) is the mother tongue of c.a. 5,000 Deaf people in Finland. In addition to this, about 10,000 hearing people use it as their mother tongue, second language or foreign language. The linguistic rights of those using sign language are guaranteed by the Finnish Constitution.

FinSL is a vital language in Finnish society. It is used in different linguistic domains both officially and unofficially, for example, in different educational environments from preschools to universities.

Like any language, FinSL varies according to region, social group membership and the social situation. Those who use the language as their mother tongue can still understand each other quite easily. However, there is a group of Deaf people whose sign language is distinguishable from the main variety of FinSL. They all attended a now closed Swedish school for the Deaf. These are the Finland-Swedish Deaf and their sign language can be considered a separate language, if the criterion of mutual intelligibility is used to define the status of this variety.

The number of native signers using Finland-Swedish Sign Language (FinSSL) is only about 150. This small Deaf minority live in the Swedish speaking coastal areas of Finland and consist mostly of middle-aged to elderly individuals. Since the closing of the Swedish school for the Deaf in Porvoo in 1993, the majority of the younger generation have moved to Sweden. This means that the future of the language is at best uncertain. Without the influx of new generations of native speakers, FinSSL has become an endangered language.

As you can see, one of the main reasons why FinSSL is endangered is in fact the lack of a school for the Finland-Swedish Deaf children. It is no exaggeration to say that the most important factor for the maintenance of this sign language is the existence of a school. Sign language is not necessarily transmitted from the parents to their children. About 90% of Deaf children have hearing parents, so the parents have to learn a new language that is going to be the mother tongue of their Deaf child. This is why the role of the signing environment at school, as both a language and identity model, is crucial.

Another reason for the endangered status of FinSSL is the decreased use of the language. The domain of usage has reduced to merely private spheres, and within the minority group itself. When it comes to official contexts, FinSL dominates. This holds for signed news on TV and for information signed on video programmes or on the Internet. Native signers of FinSSL tend to use FinSL in their daily lives as well since most of them have Finnish Deaf spouses and need to communicate in FinSL with other Finnish Deaf.

A research project dealing with FinSSL was started at the Finnish Association of the Deaf in 1998. >From 2001 onwards it has become a joint project together with the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland. The aim of the research has been to document and map the language and its users. The data was collected by videotaping 30 Finland-Swedish Deaf informants signing in informal situations.

The videotaped data shows that the informants have contacts with Finnish and Swedish Deaf, and therefore their signing is heavily influenced by both FinSL and Swedish Sign Language (SSL). In this presentation I will discuss the current linguistic situation of FinSSL, drawing on examples of contact-induced linguistic phenomena.

Itziar Idiazabal, Member of the Technical Committee, UNESCO etxea, Bilbao

UNESCO World Languages Report CANCELLED

The aim of this paper is to present the World  Languages Report. This is an UNESCO project and it is financed by the Basque Government. It started in 1998 and the first report will be published in 2001. The project has three basic aims:

During the first stage of the project there has been collected information on the state of languages through a detailed questionnaire which has been sent all around the world. We have first hand information collected directly form informants that belong mainly to the concerned language communities. For the first report, the Technical Committee has selected randomly 525 questionnaires and we will present in the Symposium of Endangered Languages data on vitality, attitudes, dangers and risks, and examples of good and bad policies extracted from this sample.

Olga Kazakevitch, Research Computational Centre of Lomonosov University of Moscow

Bi- and Multilingualism and Code-Switching among Indigenous Population of the Turukhansk District

The paper presents some results of the research project realized in 1998-1999 by a group of Moscow linguists (Olga Parfenova, Ariadna Kuznetsova and the author of the presentation) with financial support of the Institute "Open Society" Research Support Scheme.

The language situation of indigenous minority population of the Turukhansk district - Selkups, Evenkis and Kets - was studied. It should be mentioned that only 8 % of all Selkup population and 0,5 % of all Evenki population of Russia reside in the district, whereas for the Kets the Turukhansk district is the main territory of residence. The core of our project was fieldwork in the villages with indigenous communities aimed at gathering linguistic, sociolinguistic and sociological data relevant for adequate description of language situation in these communities with special attention to bi-/ multilingualism of the members of these communities and code switching in their speech. Two expeditions were organized with a year interval. In the whole six villages have been surveyed.

There are no monolingual speakers of Ket, Selkup or Evenki now. All of them speak Russian as their second or as their first language. Multilingualism is spread in the older generation: trilinguals with Selkup, Ket, and Russian, are met in the Ket communities and with Selkup, Evenki, and Russian in the Evenki community, trilinguals in the Selkup community are scares. Irrespective of the level of competence in Russian people prefer to use Russian and not their ethnic language in most of the situations of communication including family sphere. It reflects actual language inequality existing in the district. There appears a hierarchy among languages in contact. Before Russian came to the area and occupied the highest position, the three indigenous languages seem to have been unequal as well with Selkup standing over the two other languages

Among the three indigenous languages of the area only Evenki is still being transmitted inside family from parents to children, the intergenerational transmission of Selkup and Ket has stopped. Using the framework for classifying languages according to their degree of viability suggested by Michael Krauss, Ket can be described as severely endangered, Selkup should be ranged on the scale between definitely and severely endangered and Evenki might be defined as instable.

Our linguistic data obtained during the two expeditions consist of three text corpora: a Selkup (ab. 14000 running words, a Ket (ab. 4500 running words), and an Evenki one (ab. 7000  running words). All the texts are input into the computer and processed.

The analysis of the text corpora showed that though in the Russian speech of Selkup-Russian, Ket-Russian and Evenki-Russian bilinguals Selkup, Ket, or Evenki incursions respectively are extremely rare and only in the speech of representatives of the older generation, no Selkup, Ket, or Evenki text is free of incursions of Russian.

Some statements about factors influencing the frequency of code-switches in the texts can be made.
As for the text register and content:
1) in the whole dialogues contain more cases of code switching than monologues;
2) descriptions of traditional situations and environments contain less code switches than descriptions of events and environments of modern life;
3)  in fairy-tales switches to Russian tend to constitute commentaries of the story-teller.

The most relevant of speaker's personality factors appear to be:
1) speaker's competence in the ethnic language - the lower his (her) competence in the ethnic language is the more often code-switches occur;
2) linguistic talent of the speaker - the fact is that the Selkup and Ket communities visited are involved in the process of language shift, the members of these communities even being bilingual prefer to use Russian, it appears to be the usual pattern in communication, being regarded as more "natural", and more "understandable" than the ethnic language, to speak the ethnic language demands changing this usual pattern, improvising, which not everyone can easily do and which demands a kind of special linguistic talent;
3) emotional state of the speaker - the more exited the speaker is the more often code switches occur;
4) conscious self-control of the speaker directed against code switching - it can be developed by a speaker, in this case the speaker formulates (overtly or just for himself) an objective to keep from switches while speaking. During our field work we observed two cases of such purism: these
were a Ket woman dealing professionally with Ket linguistic material from whom we tape-recorded a fairy-tale, and a Selkup story-teller with whom we had been working for rather a long time and who came once and said: "To-day I want to tell you a fairy-tale without Russian words, purely in Selkup; it should be stated that both in the Ket and in the Selkup texts recorded there were still some code switches but they were really quite few.

Achim Kehlenbach, Graduate Institute of Linguistics, National Taiwan University

Nominalization Strategies - A Look at Relative Clauses and Wh-Questions in Puyuma CANCELLED

The aim of this paper is to investigate the ways in which nominalization enables the formation of relative clauses and certain wh-questions in Puyuma.

The Puyuma language is an Austronesian language spoken in eight villages of Taitung County in the southeastern part of Taiwan. The Puyuma tribe consists of a population of only about 3.000, though only those members above fifty years of age still speak the language fluently. Many young people don't speak the language anymore and have adopted Mandarin Chinese - the official language in Taiwan - as their mother tongue.

Previous studies of the Puyuma language (Sprenger 1971 & 1972, Suenari 1969, Ting 1978, Tsuchida 1980 & 1995, Cauquelin 1991, Tan 1997, Teng 1997, Huang 2000) have dealt with various phonological and grammatical aspects. However, there has been no extensive attempt to consider the interaction between nominalization and focus in Puyuma. Starosta (2000), claims that Austronesian 'focus' can be regarded as derivation and points to evidence from nominalization, but bases his conclusions on other Austronesian languages.

This paper will support Starosta's claim by presenting evidence from the Puyuma language.

It will be shown that in Puyuma, wh-questions can belong to either the noun class or the verb class. Moreover, it will become clear that if the wh-word constitutes the nominative constituent of the sentence, the main verb of the sentence will be preceded by the nominative case marker, thereby nominalizing it and turning the whole sentence into an equational sentence.

Similarly, in relative clauses, the head noun of the relative clause construction will always be marked by the same case marker as its nominalized modifier - irrespective of whether the sentence in question is an agent focus (AF) or a non-agent focus (NAF) sentence - , thereby broadening the scope of positions which can be relativized, while at the same time easing restrictions on the order of head noun and modifier that are common in many other languages.

Valeri Khabirov, Ural Pedagogical University (Russia)

Changes in the Use of Autochtonous Languages in Congo: Results of a Sociolinguistic Fieldwork CANCELLED

The total number of languages in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) is 45. On top of it the most important languages such as embosi (mboshi), teke, kikoongo (kikongo) have 6, 16 and 12 dialects respectively. The language policy of French colonizers (up to 1960) discouraged the use of local ethnic and vernacular languages in all spheres of life. The governments that followed, to be more exact the ruling party PCT, the majority of its members being the northerners, for years kept on discussing the question of choosing among the vernaculars - the creolized languages of lingala and munukutuba - a national language which might be the symbol of the congolese nation. The northerners in power spoke in favor of lingala originated in the North of the country though the language of the southerners munukutuba had many more native speakers. Finally both the languages were given the status of national languages but not a word has ever been mentioned about the ethnic languages of the Congolese, about their development. Only at the National Conference in 1991 it was suggested to call lingala and munukutuba "nationaux-vehiculaire" and other (ethnic) languages - "nationales". But nothing has been changed so far in favor of ethnic languages, their development, probably because of political instability in the country or lack of finance. Meanwhile the native speakers get to use them less often as show the results of our field work which I gathered with questionnaires from 117 students in 1975 and 66 students in 1991 both times of one and the same lyceum named Chaminade and later Drapeau Rouge. The questionnaire addressed comprehension, language use and attitudes of the Congolese toward their mother tongue, other ethnic languages, lingala, munukutuba, sango and French. On the basis of the survey the following percentage of lingala and munukutuba-speaking people of the south (kongo, lari) and of the north (teke, mbosi, bomitaba) resulted:

Percentage of Lingala and Munukutuba users (1975)
Lingala 80 81 94 100 100
Munukutuba 95 88 73 63 41

Percentage of Lingala and Munukutuba users (1991)

If we try to compare the 1975 table and the 1991 table we shall see some changes in the percentage of the lingala and munukutuba users with regard to the ethnic membership of the questioned. We witness the increase up to 100% of the lingala and munukutuba users in comparison with the year 1975. It may be attributed to the ever growing popularity of lingala as the language of supra ethnic communication at the expense of the mother tongue (ethnic language). Now it is also characteristic of the representatives of the southern groups where the share of the ethnic language was traditionally high. For example in the 1975 survey among the lari sub-group the share of the ethnic language in communication with the father, mother, grandfather (grandmother) constituted 61%, 88%, 95% respectively. The 95% of communication with the grandfather went down to 75% in 1991 because of the increase in monokutuba use - 9,5%, french use - 9,5%, lingala together with lari use - 9,5%. There's also a marked increase in the use of monokutuba in communication with the mother and french in communication with the father.

Gerson Klumpp, Department of Finnougristics at LMU Munich

Pre- and Post-Shift Kamas

1. Kamas (Southern Samoyedic, Eastern Sayan; last speaker died in 1989) is peculiarly interesting in showing two different periods of contact-induced language change. The first set of data was recorded in the 19th and 20th centuries when the Kamas speakers of Abalakova were the last remnants of a population, whose members had shifted from Samoyedic to Siberian Turkic. The idioms of those groups who still spoke Samoyedic when field notes were made Ð Mator and Kamas Ð, exhibit strong Turkic and weak Russian influence.

The second set of data, recorded in the 1960's, documents the last speaker of Kamas. She was among the last to learn Kamas but used Russian all her life. She was born after the last Kamas families had become sedentary by the end of the 19th century and Russian settlers had  appeared in the village. At that time the shift to Turkic was interrupted and a quick shift to Russian set in. Her idiom exhibits very strong Russian influence, i.e. hardly any structural pattern unknown in Russian has remained.

2.0 The difference between the two types of influence is due to the structure of the influencing languages. This can be demonstrated e.g. by the developments of the expression of phasal semantics, negation and clausal subordination.

2.1 The Samoyedic means for expressing phrasal notions such as perfective, durative, etc. is deverbal derivation encoded by a rich set of suffixes. Correspondent suffixes are found in Kamas but they are not productive anymore. They had been replaced by grammaticalized phrasal auxiliaries structurally copied from Turkic. Under Russian influence the variety of aspectual (and other) auxiliaries reduces and only four suffix-like auxiliaries survive. Some instances reflect use-types of the Russian binary aspectual opposition. On the other hand there is no copying of highly idiomatic Russian prefixes.

2.2 Kamas was a Uralic language using a negative auxiliary which was in complementary distribution with another negation type, viz. a negation particle. The negative auxiliary was used in the future, subjunctive and imperative mood, whereas the negative particle was used in the present  and preterite mood. It may be due to the presence of different negation strategies in Turkic that the Samoyedic type survived and e.g. Turkic suffixal negation never intruded into the Kamas language system. In Russian there is only one negation pattern, so in this period the negative auxiliary is lost, the negation particle acquiring all of its former functions.

2.3 Clausal subordination by means of dependent predicates is a feature common for Samoyedic and Turkic. Most common is a participle form with an attached local case ending. For the time of Turkic influence it may be only stated that the presence of this pattern in Turkic enabled the preservation of the same structure in Kamas. Probably before Russian influence an interrogative was already used as a temporal conjunction, denoting the same semantic relation as the dependent predicate. Under Russian influence the dependent predicate is replaced by a finite verb and the means for subordination is the conjunction alone."

Natela Kutelia, Ivane Javakhisvili State University of Tbilisi

Historical Perspective of Laz CANCELLED

The break-up of Common-Kartvelian basic language gave its differentiation and historically existed Kartvelian languages were formed: Colchi or Laz-Megrelian (resp. Zan), Svan and Georgian. All native speakers of these languages created the Georgian nation and Georgian culture.

The XIX century was known for its special interest in Kartvelian and Caucasian languages. Among these languages only Georgian has ancient written tradition. Hence linguists faced serious and urgent problems unscripted languages of the Caucasian area should be recorded and studied. Among these languages Colchi (resp. Laz-Megrelian) is one of the oldest Kartvelian languages. In the Middle Ages the territorial integrity of Laz-Megrelia was broken.

In spite of such isolation of Megrelian and Laz and if we assume the results of research and changes of regular corresponding we will see that the model of phonological and grammatical language system is the same notwithstanding different ways of their historical development .

Lexical, phonemical inventory and their paradigmatic and syntagmatic  relations, basic morphemic structure, phonotactics are identical for Laz and Megrelian. Historically active phonetic tendencies are the same: palatalization, depharingalization, sonority. The results of these processes were more or less noticed in all Kartvelian languages.

The Laz had been under political and cultural influence of Byzantine and Trabzon empires. After breaking down of these empires (1453-1461) fundamental changes in political and cultural life of Asia-Minor s people were brought about. Expansion of Ottoman Empire caused denationalization of Laz. One part of Laz immigrated to continental Greece and their ethos and languages were merged in Greek. The main part of Laz that remained on the native land with their firm and steadfast character kept the language and courageously resistant ethnic and linguistic assimilation. In spite of isolation from Georgian language Laz language retained material and cultural relations with Kartvelian languages in the period of its independent evolution.

The two important centres to study Laz and Megrelian languages are in Tbilisi: Javakhishvili State University and Chikobava Institute of Linguistics of the Academy of Sciences. Fundamental monographs were dedicated to Laz lexis, grammatical and phonemic structures. Several volumes of texts were issued. In 1982 the first Laz book "Lazuri Paramitepe" by Natela Kutelia was published. Laz Dictionary (60000 words) by I.Asatiani and Laz-Georgian Dictionary (50000 words) by  L.Tandilava are prepared for publication.

It is of special importance to present Laz by means of Kartvelian alphabet which was used by Laz throughout their history and which expresses its phonemic inventory adequately. All the attempts of ignoring this problem will bring the denial of the historic and cultural tradition of Laz. There is a tendency in the West to introduce Latin alphabet for Laz. This was preceeded by another attempt to use Cyrillic. Both ways are absolutely wrong, as they will cause disintegration of Laz articulator basis.

At present the officious language for Laz people is Turkish. Laz people have had an important role in the political and economical life of Turkey. There is the Laz ethnos and the Laz language and retaining this language is the civilized world's concern.

Marja Leinonen, University of Tampere

Komi - an Endangered Language?

On September 25, 1998, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe accepted a resolution on the endangered Uralic minority cultures which, among other things, urged the Russian Federation and other countries where they are present to support these people's languages, cultures and traditions, through education in their own mother tongues and through publishing and mass media in their languages (Doc. 8126, June 1998). Among the Uralic language, Khanty, Mansi, Nenets, Karelian, Vepsian, Livonian, Votian, Izhorian, and most Samoyed and Sami languages are endangered to varying degrees. Those languages that, according to the report, "may be endangered", are Mordvin, Mari, Komi and Udmurt.

Komi is not in immediate danger, rather it is a language for which some hope remains. Despite ongoing language shift into Russian, it has legislative support and an official programme of revitalization in the Republic of Komi, which has been active since 1992, when Komi together with Russian was declared a official language. Out of 1,265 million inhabitants (census of 1989), 23% had Komi nationality, but 71% only spoke the language as their mother tongue. Including close-by regions and the trans-Ural areas, the number of speakers is over 300,000.

Despite the revitalization efforts, certain factors have a negative effect on language maintenance:

This paper is a report of the efforts at revitalization and its success during the past few years. At the same time, the question of a language being "endangered" is addressed in more detail than is done in e.g. the Red Book of the Languages of Russia, 1994 (ed. V.P. Neroznak).

Larisa Leisiö, University of Tampere

Evidential in Nganasan CANCELLED

Within a genetic classification, Nganasan (other names: Tawgi and Tawgi-Samoyed) is one of the North Samoyedic languages which belong to the Samoyedic branch of the Uralic language family. According to traditional estimates, Proto-Uralic divided into Proto-Finno-Ugrian and Proto-Samoyedic in 3000 BC at the latest (Hajdú 1985: 172-4).

Nganasans are the northernmost population in Eurasia. Traditionally they were nomads living on the tundra: they fished, hunted and bred domestic reindeer. Nganasans moved in the central and northern interior of the Taimyr Peninsula. Since the beginning of the 1960s, the Nganasans have been concentrated in three villages which are to the south of their traditional living areas. There are two very close dialects, Avam and Vadey. According to official figures, there were 1300 Nganasans in 1989. At the beginning of the 1990s, according to researchers' estimates (Helimski 1992), there were about 600 Nganasan speakers, a figure which has sharply decreased since that time.

I suggest that there are three verb forms in Nganasan which can be considered evidential (in the broad sense defined by Willett 1988): the inferential, the perceptual and the reported.

Natalia Tereschenko (1979) does not differentiate the inferential and considers it together with the passive marker. She calls the other two forms the auditive and the non-evident. Eugen Helimski (1994) identifies these three categories as the inferential, the auditive and the renarrative respectively. These researchers call the categories under discussion 'moods' and do not mention evidentiality as a possible hypernym.

The notion of evidentiality is related to the indication of the source of the speaker's knowledge (evidentiality in the narrow sense) and the degree of reliability of this knowledge. One of the possible treatments of the evidential is to include it within epistemic modality (see Dendale and Tasmowski 2001 for a general overview of evidentiality and related theoretical problems).

The three Nganasan types of the evidential can be characterised as follows. The inferential signals a situation inferred by the speaker on the basis of its results. The perceptual signals a situation perceived by the speaker, excluding visual perception. The reported indicates secondhand information, that is, something said by someone else.

My presentation will concern the specificities of the syntactic use of the Nganasan evidential forms (to the best of my knowledge the topic has never been discussed before). I will show that the inferential is in actual use the mirative (De Lancey 1997, 2001), a form which is a peripheral type of evidentiality and which signals the speaker's emotional attitude. Furthermore, I will consider the context typical for each form, and the choice of a particular form in the situation in which two forms, the reported and the perceptual, seem to be equally possible.

The data used in my research consist of my fieldwork material and published sources.

Aurolyn Luykx, Universidad Mayor de San Simón, Cochabamba, Bolivia

Standardization as a Language Maintenance/Revitalization Strategy: Ideologies, Expectations and Unplanned Effects

This paper examines the standardization process targeting Bolivia's principal minority languages: Quechua, Aimara and Guaraní. In recent years, Bolivian language policy has made a major shift, incorporating indigenous languages into formal education and recognizing them constitutionally as "official" languages and as an important part of Bolivia's national patrimony. Central to this process have been state-supported language standardization initiatives and the production of indigenous-language educational materials.

The standardization process has been marked by conflict over corpus planning decisions and the respective roles of university-educated linguists and vernacular speakers in those decisions. These conflicts derive not only from the political dimension of standardization and the way language policy has been carried out, but also from regional sentiments and pedagogical difficulties related to the three languages' respective standardized varieties; in reality, the political and pedagogical conflicts are inseperable from each other.

To date, the difficulties arising from recent language policies have not been analyzed by language planners as potentially useful feedback for adjusting those policies. This paper analyzes both the language ideologies giving rise to recent policies, and those emerging from those policies' implementation, with particular attention to their potentially negative effects on minority languages future vitality. Conclusions include:

1) that standardization is not a universally successful strategy for minority language maintenance and revitalization, but rather one option whose selection depends upon careful sociolinguistic analysis of the speech communities involved (including functionality, variation, patterns of use and language ideologies of speakers and non-speakers), active and empowering participation of minority speech communities in corpus, status, and acquisition planning decisions, and constant feedback from policy's emerging effects "on the ground";

2) that concentration of Bolivia's language planning efforts and resources on standardization and the creation of written materials has led to the neglect of other areas and strategies that may be equally if not more important to these languages' future;

3) that the prevalence of standardization as the "default" strategy, once an official commitment to minority language revitalization is made, has more to do with the language ideologies of language planners and activists, and with patterns of use of the dominant language, than with its actual effectiveness with regard to minority language vitality, or the communicative and cultural priorities of the minority speech community.

Sa'adiah Ma'alip, Universiti Kebangsaan, Malaysia

Sociolinguistics Perspectives of Kristang Language in Melaka (Malaysia): A Preliminary Research

My paper is based on preliminary research carried out in a Portuguese-speaking community in Melaka, Malaysia (1999/2000). The paper will discuss findings with respect to language shift and language loss in the Kristang language of Melaka, Malaysia. Kristang, known by its speakers as Papia Kristau, is confined to this community.

For my research, I chose respondents from a range of ages and distributed questionnaires. I also conducted interviews and observed language use by the respondents in order to establish the domains of use of Kristang and the extent of language shift and loss.

Speakers of Kristang describe their language as a surviving version of Midieval Portuguese. The Melaka area of Malaysia was conquered and colonised by the Portuguese in the 16th century. The ruins of their defensive buildings, notably the great fort of A Farmosa, can still be viewed today.

This community maintains its distinctive historic identity via its language: Kristang, and its religion: Catholicism. But the situation of Kkristang is now critical. Melaka is a multi-lingual community. Malay and English are spoken as well as Kristang. Malay is the language of education. English, as the second language, has high prestige. As my data will show, Kristang conforms to a pattern of language endangerment. That is, domains of use are limited. The alternatives of Malay and English are preferred by young speakers for reasons of economics and prestige. Speakers of Kristang tend to be 40+ and complete speakers of 60+. Even grandparents believe it is more useful to speak English to the new generation.

The community still values Kristang as a significant part of the Melaka people's identity. But support in education is absent. My research revealed that there are now 3,000 speakers in Melaka and another 1,2000 in the surrounding village (approximate figures). A village headman, when I conducted my research, proposed a figure of 20,000 speakers, if natives of the community, now scattered and living in other parts of Malaysia, are included.

Catholicism is the religion of the Melaka Portuguese community. This precludes marriage with Muslim Malays. Marriage 'out' of the community, therefore, tend to be with other ethnic groups in Malaysia, such as Indians and Chinese. This means that there are other ethnic languages are competing with Kristang even in the home domain. Therefore this language is a seriously endangered situation. My findings indicate that there is language shift ant the reasons for it.

My paper is concerned with the sociolinguistics of language shift in this speech community. My own knowledge of Kristang is limited to what I have gained in the course of my research. It is to be hoped that this preliminary research will lead to some interest in revival of their language by members of the community and that further research will lead to documentation.

Maya Machavariani and Bela Shavkhelishvili, Arn Chikobava Institute of Linguistics / Georgian Academy of Sciences

The Minor Ethnic Groups and their Languages: What is the Reason of their Extinction? CANCELLED

The everlasting problem of the antinomy between the Universal, global, standard and individual, personal, unique became most essential in XX century. So, the main goal is to retain the cultural, linguistic individuality, personal creative possibilities in the epoch of the total processes of globalization. The more traditional a society is, the most subtle, versatile, cordial, differentiated and moral-conscious the relations among the small social and ethnic group are. The crucial problem is how to combine the global interests of mankind with the individual and unique sphere of the small ethnic communities.

The paper gives a detailed description of linguistic situation in the Georgian village Zemo-Alvani. To our mind the destiny of small groups in different states is not the same. The population of Zemo-Alvani is called Tsova-Tush ("Bats" - among themselves). There are approximately 3000 speakers of Tsova-Tush. Their language is a very ancient tongue, it has survived centuries as a language isolate within Georgia. Majority of linguists consider it as a member of the Nakh group of the Northeast Caucasian language family. To our mind, it seems that Tsova-Tush could be considered as a oldest Kartvelian language as well.

The Tsovas are the very old Christians and always took active part in the all historical events of Georgia. All of them are bilingual, the ethnic culture, mode of life and customs, songs, dances etc are the same as in the mountain region of Georgia. By their conscious, and historical memory they are Kartvelians. The pure linguistic problem is to study the Tush language from this new point of view, namely: is it by the origin Kartvelian or Nakh one. Now this unique language, the subject of the typological study by many outstanding scholars, is almost dead. The situation is not the standard one. The aged people speak their native tongue, but teenagers and children don't know their language any more, and don't want to learn it. What is the reason? 1) The new wide contacts with the other part of Georgia, Russia and Europe. 2) A week knowledge of their traditional culture and history. 3) The absolutely pragmatic attitude toward their native tongue, which is considered as non-practical and not prestigious vehicle. What could be done to rescue Tsova-Tush in such situation? It will be argued in this article that there is a need to maintain a clear focus on the central role of international movement to protect the rights of small ethnic groups and their languages. At the same time it is also very important to sustain and reproduce the micro interpersonal processes and practices. We try to establish the cultural and linguistic center in Zemo-Alvani, explain to children, that their mother-tongue is the most important part of life and their individual personality. We published for the first time the book of verses and poems by Tsova-Tush brilliant blind poet Ioseb LongiShvili, who composes his masterpieces in Georgian and in Tsova-language. Very soon we will publish the readings in Tsova-Tush language for children including the main information concerning the grammar, dictionary, historical date etc. In other words, we not only study it, but try to make Tsova-Tush prestigious among the young generation.

William McGregor, Aarhus Universitet

Structural Changes in Language Shift/Obsolescence: A Kimberley (Australia) Perspective

As elsewhere in Australia, Aboriginal people of the Kimberley region (far north-west) have shifted their speech habits, including patterns of language use, significantly over the century or so of intensive contact with Europeans. In all speech communities there has been a significant shift away from speaking traditional languages and towards speaking a post-contact variety such as Pidgin English (an English-lexicalised pidgin) and Kriol (its creolised form). Along with this, many of the traditional languages have fallen out of regular use, and are effectively moribund. Of the approximately sixty languages traditionally spoken in the region, only a handful have more than a hundred full speakers, and just a few are being passed on - only in the most isolated communities - to children as their mother tongue.

In this paper I discuss structural changes that appear to have occurred in some Kimberley languages as a consequence of their obsolescence, raising in the process the question of how to distinguish such changes from normal historical changes, dialectal variants, etc.. The focus will be on the ten or so languages I have had field-work experience with over the past two decades. There will be a particular concentration on Nyulnyul, a language currently with a small community of semi-speakers and rememberers, but no full speakers (the last died a few years ago). We are fortunate in this case to have a body of quite reliable documentation from various points of time extending from the 1890s to the present.

There is evidence of just a few grammatical changes in the Nyulnyul of the last two full speakers, these being somewhat different for the two speakers: loss of one pronominal category and virtual disappearance of another; some small simplifications in verb morphology; and loss of system of pronominal prefixes to nouns (one speaker). It is unclear whether these changes result from non-acquisition or loss over long periods of disuse; I am inclined to the latter possibility. More notable changes are lexical attrition and reduction in registers.

The speech of semi-speakers, by contrast, shows numerous simplifications characteristic of language obsolescence situations: morphological reduction, including loss of case-marking postpositions, serious levelling in the verb morphology, and syntactic borrowing from the dominant language. Lexical losses are also significantly higher than amongst the full speakers.

Otherwise, a considerable number of residents and former residents of Beagle Bay know a number of Nyulnyul words from specific semantic fields (especially bush foods), which they use in their everyday spoken English. They are unable to produce sentences in Nyulnyul.

Numerous questions arise, including: Why are there such discontinuities between the grammars of the three groups of speakers of Nyulnyul? Why is there evidence of more structural change in the speech of the Nyulnyul full speakers than in the case of other Kimberley languages in the same, or worse situations of endangerment? Why is it that some seemingly less frequent constructions are retained at the expense of more frequent ones?

I. Melikishvili, Tbilisi State University

Nominative-Active Split Construction in Kartvelian (South Caucasian) Languages CANCELLED

Nominative and active constructions in modern Kartvelian languages Georgian and Svan are aspect-determined: the case marking in the clauses containing verbs in Series I (imperfect) is of nominative type, in the clauses containing the verbs in Series II (aorist) and III (perfect) - of active type. The active verbs in Series II require Narrative (Active) as the case of subject and the active verbs in Series III - Dative. The person marking in the Series II and III is also different: the verbs in Series II have person marking of nominative type and the verbs in Series III of active type. Thus the syntactic construction of the Series I can be defined as nominative, the construction of the Series II as nominative-active (with nominative personal marking and active case marking) and that of the Series III as active.

Two other Kartvelian languages: Mingrelian and Laz show syntactic uniformity - Mingrelian has passed to the consequent nominative construction (with tense-aspect determined allomorphs of Nominative case) and Laz has passed to the consequent active construction. Data of these languages contribute to the investigation of the ways of transformation of split nominative-active systems into consequent nominative and active systems. The Series I is highly unmarked in comparison with the Series II and III. It contains the unmarked members of tense-aspect oppositions. It is more differentiated - includes far more tense-aspect forms (screeves in Georgian linguistic terminology), than the Series II and III. The verbs with defective paradigm generally have the forms of the Series I but either lack the forms of Series II and III or generate them irregular. The nominal forms are based on stems of the Series I. Morphological complexity of the forms of Series I reflect categories, which are neutralized in the Series II and III. Thus the nominative construction in Georgian and Svan is connected with unmarked tense-aspect forms and the active construction - with the marked. The active construction has less connection with verbal inflection than with case marking. All these data show the predominance of nominative construction in comparison with the active construction in Georgian and Svan. These observations can be regarded as steps in direction of the typology of coexistent constructions in split systems.

Esteban Emilio Mosonyi, Universidad Central de Venezuela, and Arelis Barbella, Consejo Nacional de la Cultura, Venezuela

Situation of the Indegenous Languages of Venezuela in its Current Conjuncture

On different occasions, diagnostics have been elaborated on the general situation of the aproximately thirty (30) indigenous languages spoken in our country (Ex. "Diagnóstico de la Situación Actual de las Lenguas Indígenas de Venezuela", by Esteban Emilio Mosonyi, Arelis Barbella and Silvana Caula, 1999). But we are focusing in this paper the non-neglectable number of changes, some of them quite favourable and others much less so, forthcoming from the proclamation of the "República Bolivariana de Venezuela" (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela), 1999. In the first place, the new Constitution recognizes a much higher status for the Indian peoples, cultures and languages inhabiting great part of this country. Concerning the languages as such, they are granted a sort of regional, still to be defined, officialization and are declared heritage of the Venezuelan Nation and of whole mankind. Additionally, important legislative advances are being carried forward. On the other hand, there are accumulating new difficulties: a vehement developmentalism that expropriates and contaminates Indian lands; official institutions sterilizing aboriginal women; new schemes of pre-schooling and schooling more intolerant than ever towards their cultural and linguistics expressions; growing displacement of Indians that provokes degrading phenomena, such as urban mendicity. In short, an acute contradiction is arising between Indian peoples' original expectancies and the new Régime's concrete actions. All this stuff claims for an urgent correction, whose possible features are exposed in the final part of this paper.

John Myhill, University of Haifa, Israel

The Jewish Conception of Identity and the Sanctification and Revival of Hebrew

Available evidence suggests that a large proportion of the world's languages are in imminent danger of dying (coming to have no native speakers) in the next few generations, and for a good many of these this process seems likely to be irreversible. For those committed to working for language ecology and diversity, then, it is necessary to begin to think seriously about how dead languages may be revived again, so that models and practical programs of language revival can be developed as fast as possible. For this purpose, it can be very helpful to study factors responsible for the only recorded case of language revival, that of Hebrew in the early 20th century after the language had been dead for about 2000 years.

I will argue in this paper that the revival of Hebrew was possible because of the Jewish conception of identity which developed as a response to the Jewish homeland being colonized by a variety of foreign powers beginning in the 6th century B.C.E. When the homeland was captured and Jews were expelled and switched from Hebrew to Aramaic and later to other languages, Jewish identity was reconceptualized as involving not livingplace/citizenship or native language but rather both ancestry (specifically, having a Jewish mother) and religious affiliation (which in practice amounted specifically to refusing to profess Christian or Muslim faith). This was the only way for Jews to survive as a distinctive group, because (1) they had no common native language or state of their own, and (2) following the rise to power of Christianity and Islam, Jews were forbidden from proselytizing and under constant pressure to convert to one of these religions.

In the course of this process, Jewish attachment to language and land switched from the concrete to the sacred. The ancestral language, Hebrew, was reanalyzed as being sacred to Jews and hence to constitute an integral part of Jewish identity even if it was no longer a living language, and the ancestral homeland was similarly reanalyzed as being sacred to Jews even if they were no longer living there.

Because Jews saw themselves as a religious group, they were able to maintain Hebrew as their sacred, non-living language, their language of education and religious practice, for two millenia, just as other religious groups have. On the other hand, because Jews also saw themselves as an ancestral group, a people, when modern European nationalistic thinkers such as Herder propagated the idea that the essence of a people should be manifested in its own living language, Jews were able to apply this thinking to their own situation to support the revival of their language, Hebrew, as a living language. Thus the survival of the Jews as a distinctive people, their continued attachment to Hebrew, and the revival of Hebrew as a living language were possible specifically because they defined themselves as both a religious group and an ancestral group.

Irina Nikolaeva, University of Konstanz and Elena Perekhvalskaya Milkova, St.Petersburg State University

Udihe under Russian Influence: Effects of Endangerment on the Language Grammar

The paper deals with the effect of Russian on the grammar of Udihe (Udeghe), a Tungus language spoken in the southern part of the Russian Far East. The Udihe came into close contact with the Russians later than most Siberian peoples. However, after the introduction of collective farms in the Soviet period (starting from the late 1930s) the expansion of Russian has become more and more traumatic for Udihe language and culture. At present Udihe is spoken as a first language by approximately 100 people. There are no ethnically pure Udihe settlements, and most Udihe consider Russian their first language. In 1979 it was spoken fluently by as many as 94.1% of the Udihe, today this number is close to 100%.

The language has undergone serious changes in the process of language contact. We shall distinguish between the Old Udihe and the New Udihe. Both have undergone the influence of Russian, but to a different degree. The Old Udihe is presently spoken by a few speakers from the oldest generation. The influence of Russian on the grammar of the Old Udihe is still surprisingly small compared to other minority languages of Siberia and the Russian Far East. There are no significant changes at the phonological level, and although we can speak of Russian loanwords their number is not extremely high. At the level of syntax,  certain sentence constructions may be influenced by the corresponding phenomenon in Russian, namely, the  desiderative copular clauses with the Dative experiencer, the Impersonal construction, and the promotion of the nominal patient to the subject position in the Passive. In some cases the Russian word order has influenced the word order of the Old Udihe. In particular, the focus object can sometimes be placed in a post-verbal position, which violates the major requirement of Udihe word order, namely, the preverbal position of the focus element. Another violation of head-finality that may be due to influence of Russian is the postnominal position of proper name apposition and the postverbal complement subordinate clause.

The New Udihe is a variety used by middle-aged speakers. It is characterized by the following features: (i) Many phonological features unusual for the Russian language are lost, for example, vowel phonations and tone-like characteristics; (ii) The massive impact of the Russian language resulted in the formation of a mixed code, where Udihe and Russian lexemes are often used as free variants. The younger the speakers are, the more Russian words they use in their speech, and it is not clear whether these should be classified as loanwords or as phonological "quotations" from another language. Russian words are easily combined with Udihe grammatical morphemes, and sentences where all lexical items are borrowed from Russian are not rare;(iii) Russian has gratly influenced the semantic structure of the New Udihe, so that each Russian word has one and the same correspondence; (iv) The New Udihe has undergone significant changes in complex sentence formation. In the Old Udihe Wh-words are typically not used as subordinators, since clausal subordination is expressed by non-finite verbal forms; their frequent use in this function in the New Udihe is due to the Russian influence. Furthermore, the New Udihe has borrowed some of the most common Russian complementizers.

These facts show that the New Udihe can be classified as a mixed language of the type described by Jane and Ken Hill (1986).


Anderson G. (2001) Language Contact and Macro-Areal Typological Change: Complex Sentence Structure in Siberia/Northern Eurasia. Presentation made on the 28th of February at the Jahrestagung und Kognition der Deutschen Gesellschaft fur Sprachwissenschaft, Leipzig.

Hill J. and Hill K. ( 1986) Speaking Mexicano. Dynamics of Syncretic Language in Central Mexico. Univ. of Arizona Press.

Kibrik A. E. (1992) Sketches on applied linguistics. Moscow, Moscow Univ. Press.

Perekhvalskaya E. (1991) The results of Russian-Udihe language contacts': "Russian and the languages of Siberian minorities. Leningrad, Nauka Publ.

Elena Novozhilova, European University at St. Petersburg

Code-Switcing in Contemporary Vepsian Language

My presentation covers code-switching patterns found in the speech of the Veps minority group in a situation of the language shift. The data has been collected in 1998 - 2000 in Leningrad and Vologda districts. Typically, in the language shift situation a dominant language is acquired perfectly, while the minority language is used less and less and is gradually forgotten: its vocabulary decreases, and the speakers have to insert into their speech words and phrases from the dominant language. This is the situation with the Vepsian language. Only the oldest speakers preserve the language to full extent; the next age group (40 - 70 years old) have limited command of the language, or they can understand it but do not speak it; only very few people under 40 know their parents' language. At the same time all the Veps have a perfect command of Russian.

During the interviews conducted in Russian, all informants can speak Russian without switching to Vepsian. But when speaking Vepsian, even the oldest speakers not only use numerous Russian borrowings but also switch to Russian rather often, inserting Russian phrases and words that show no phonological or morphosyntactic integration into the Vepsian language. Sometimes an informant continues speaking Russian until the researcher asks him/her to speak his/her own language. The "pure" Vepsian language without code-switching is practically not found in the area.

The first pattern of code-switching is found in the speech of the oldest speakers. There are rather many Russian insertions into the Vepsian language that are usually not recognized as such by the speakers. But in this case the code-switching can not be called random. The majority of the insertions can be explained by using of direct speech, idioms, or terms that are absent in the Vepsian language. Russian numerals are used instead of Vepsian numerals and they often work as switch triggers. A more frequent use of Russian words while discussing certain topics can also be noted. For example, Russian insertions are usual for conversations connected with work in the kolhoz (a collective farm) even if Russian words have their Vepsian analogs.

The second code-switching pattern is more typical for representatives of the middle generation. Switching is more frequent and far less predictable. They switch to Russian mainly to compensate the insufficiency of their Vepsian vocabulary. In their casual speech they often insert Russian words that are not integrated into the Vepsian language structure. During the interviews they prefer to adapt Russian word to the Vepsian language phonologically and morphologically, sometimes they even try to use Vepsian numerals that are not used by older people. Such unpredictability of code-switching, together with weakening of sociolinguistic motivation and insertion of Russian words and phrases as a result of the vocabulary reducing, seems to be one of the symptoms of the gradual language loss. On the other hand, the attempts of the middle generation to use "as much Vepsian as possible" during the interview with a researcher confirms that they are conscious of the insufficiency of their language competence. This is important because the awareness of the current language shift by the speakers can become the first step to reversing this process.

Marja-Liisa Olthuis, Saami Assizes, Finland

The Inarisaami language as an endangered language

The Inarisaami language is spoken in Finland, around Lake Inari. There are about 350 people who still speak this language, but only a small group use it as an active, everyday language. The number of speakers has been decreasing since the 1950's when a major school reform almost managed to bring about its extinction: in the new educational system only Finnish was tolerated, leaving no space for the Saami languages.

After the school crisis, for at least 25 years nothing was done to save Inarisaami. In the 1970's, with the general interest in minority languages, Inarisaami got its place on the Saami Radio, a few religious books were published and Inarisaami began to be taught at school in 1976. However, this was not enough to revitalize the language, and Anarâ kielâ servi, the Society of Inarisaami, was established in 1986, marking the most important step in the short history of this language. The most important achievement of Anarâ kielâ servi has been the Inarisaami language nest. It was set up for children who cannot learn Inarisaami at home any more, who during the daytime learn to use it in their daily activities. In 1997, the Society of Inarisaami got a grant of 1,5 million Finnish marks (about 250 000 Euro) from the Finnish Cultural Foundation, which made it possible to start the language nest in Inari and guarantee its activities for five years. Another language nest has been set up in Ivalo. It has been financed by the municipality of Inari, but its funding is only guaranteed for short periods (usually for six months) at a time. It has become clear now that the language nest is an essential means to revitalize Inarisaami, and bringing this activity to an end could be fatal for the future of the language.

The results of the language nests have been very positive, and their functioning has caused a snowball effect. The children who have left the language nest are now learning Inarisaami as a mother tongue at primary school and they also get part of their other education in Inarisaami. The language nests have also raised more general interest in learning Inarisaami: the children s parents and other adults are learning it now, and some students have taken part in the matriculation exam which has been organised for Inarisaami since 1998. There has been practically no teaching of Inarisaami at the university level, but a major step has now been taken: the Educational Centre of the Saami Area, together with the University of Oulu, is organising a study program of 15 study units in Inarisaami. According to the plans, teaching should start this year.

The language law concerning Saami languages has guaranteed also Inarisaami to have legal status in the municipality of Inari: all announcements and official forms have to be in Finnish and in the three Saami languages. This has given Inarisaami a higher status, and the translation work has increased the vocabulary enormously.

Plenty of work has already been done to save Inarisaami and hopefully very soon the language will have every chance to survive. The main question still remains: will people start using the Inarisaami language as their active everyday language again?

B.K. Rana

Revitalizing Kusunda Language in the Himalayas

Kusunda language is one of the endangered languages in Nepal. At the moment, there are only three speakers of this language: Prem Bahadur Shahi Thakuri of Dang, Lil Bahadur Kusunda of Pyuthan and Raja Mama of Tanahu. It is widely believed that this language is already dead. But, it is not true. The language is not dead at all and therefore, it might not seem unrealistic while we talk of reintroducing it. We still have a faint hope of reintroducing this language.

This language has been already declared extinct following the death of Raja Mama's mother, the presumed last speaker; who died of diarrhea few years ago in Damauli of Tanahu District, west Nepal. Although, there are very limited noun phrases and a complete loss of major word classes including verbs and their patterns, yet Kusunda is not a dead language because there are at least three Kusunda speakers physically alive in different parts of the country, which I have mentioned above.

Kusunda is one of the unique languages found in the southern Himalayan region, primarily in Nepal, which was recorded and published, for the first time, by British Resident to Nepal, Brian Houghton Hodgson. The Hodgson wordlist of 1857 ( Hodgson 1992 reprint ) contains only 223 words and fifteen sentences collected through supposedly available trained-hands of those days. It is understandable that Nepali was lingua-franca at that point of time also. The Rana Regime (1846-1950) had barred Hodgson from visiting Kusunda areas in rural Nepal. It is believed that he could not have any opportunity to listen to Kusunda utterances by himself, therefore, there are some differences in his findings. However, Hodgson should be revered as the first person to go into research on Kusunda language. Researchers in Linguistic Survey of India Team carried over his works. Kusundas and their language remained ignored for a long time until Narahari Nath Yogi, a noted Nepali historian, ! tried to write something on them in 1955. And in 1970, an Anthropologist, Johan Reinhard from Austria arrived here and took interest in them. He recorded some sample sentences and hundreds of Kusunda words, brought them to Katmandu for analysis, until when the language was hardly spoken by few Kusundas of central hills of Nepal. Prof. Sueyoshi Toba, a linguist from Japan worked together with Reinhard, analyzed the record in a standard linguistic framework. Both of these scholars contribution to Kusunda community is immensely great for their reports are the only authentic source of information on Kusundas, their language, their plight and other sorts of things related to them.

Kusunda Language can be Revitalised.

Kusunda is not a dead language, therefore, we might be able to reintroduce it by opening a language council, at central level, which would have linguistic and cultural planning as required by the nation. To fulfil this objective the present National Committee for Development of Nationalities - NCDN or any entities that are formed later by legislation, should be entrusted with extra resources: both financial and legislative; so as to bring in those three Kusunda speakers together in one place, re-establish their natural living with lesser modernisation - so that they would have a natural environment to slowly recall the forgotten language to reintroduce among themselves.

Dr. Kavita Rastogi, Lucknow University

Language Endangerment: A Case Study of Raji CANCELLED

It is generally believed that the indentity of languages and dialects is maintained in a multicultural country like India; but due to fast changing socio-economic patterns and migrations the status of minor languages is undergoing a change. Due to physiographic, locational and socio-economic factors many lesser known languages of tribal communitites have either partially or fully been assimilated into the language of dominant cultures. Thus many tribal communities have shifted from their traditional language to rgional or national language.
The present study is related to a language of a Himalayan tribe Raji. The Rajis live in nine hamlets scattered over the mountainous region of district of Pithoragarh in Uttaranchal. According to 1981 census report their total population was one thousand and eighty seven, whereas in 1991 it dwindled down to three hundred and fifty six. They speak a non Indo-Aryan language 'Raji/Rawati' in restricted domains like home and among kin. This language is not used in any written mode of communication. It may be pointed out that for the last fifty years or so the Rajis are in continual contact with completely unrelated linguistic stocks viz. Kumauni the language of the linguistically richer and economically prosperous neighbours and Hindi - the language of school teachers and government officers who visit their hamlets to monitor developmental schemes. There is ample evidence to show that due to spatial contact and intense economic and cultural pressures, Rajis have not only borrowed some of the dominant culture's customs and practices but have also acquired their communicative patterns. As a result young and middle aged Raji speakers use their mother tongue within their own settlements and use Kumauni at market or work place. So most Rajis of Younger generation are bilinguals who seem to have ana attitude of respect or regard towards the dominant language. A majority of the Raji people are uneducated and in their day to day social interaction use Hindi or Kumauni. If such a situation persists, original Raji may slip into the category of potentially endangered language group in the very near future. In the present study an attempt has been made to highlight the possible effects of endangerment on this language.

Helka Riionheimo, University of Joensuu

Endangered Morphology? The Ingrian Finnish Dialect in Estonia and Multiple Causation of Morphological Simplification

Morphological reduction is one of the well-known structural consequences of language death process: inflectional morphology is simplified, allomorphy reduces, regularity and transparency increase, productivity decreases. Morphological phenomena are often used as examples of internally motivated reduction, motivated by the grammar of the language itself or by universal principles, not by the interference of the dominant language. This belief is probably partly based on the wide-spread assumption that the elements of bound morphology are not readily transferable in language contact, and thus internally motivated changes are most clearly observable in bound morphology. However, morphological interference is not as rare as has been claimed, and the data of the present study shows that if the contacting languages are morphologically rich and genetically closely related, also bound morphology is quite easily transferred. In this kind of contact between related languages, inherent and crosslinguistic motivation of reductional changes are not always separable.

The paper is focused on the attrition of the structure of a dying language in the case of language shift when a second language has become linguistically dominant for the native speakers of the dying language. The informants are Ingrian Finns, who were born in the territory of Ingria around St. Petersburg in the 1910s or 1920s and grew up in Finnish-speaking rural families (in Ingria, there has been Finnish settlement since the 17th century). They were forced to leave their homes during World War II and after the war, their families were settled in Russia, from where they soon fled to Estonia. The Ingrian Finns have always been a very small minority with a low social status and living scattered all around Estonia, and the cultural pressure of the Estonians has been overwhelming. The domain of Ingrian Finnish has become very restricted, and nowadays Ingrian Finnish can be described as a dying language, as it was seldom transmitted to the second generation. Estonian was learned easily by the Ingrian Finns because of its genetic closeness to Finnish, and as it has had a prestigious status, it has become the dominant language for most of them.

Ingrian Finnish spoken in Estonia has preserved much of its morphological complexity, but it also shows signs of simplifying tendencies. Morphological reduction is, however, often also motivated by the structural properties of Estonian language, and thus the data offers an excellent opportunity to examine multiple causation and the interaction of internally and externally motivated attrition phenomena. The paper will deal with the past tense formation of Ingrian Finnish, and it will be shown that the expansion of a transparent formation pattern is attributable both to inherent tendencies and to Estonian influence.

Alexander Rusakov, St.Petersburg State University

Romani Dialects: Change and Stability

It is well known that all Romani dialects are strongly influenced by the surrounding languages, although the degree of this influence varies from one dialect to another (the uttermost example of this process is Para-Romai dialects). At the same time many Romani dialects (including Para-Romani) and to some extent Romani as a whole show a relatively high degree of language stability. Sociolinguistic grounds of this stability are evident.

North Russian Romani dialect (NRRD) is traditionally assumed to be one of the most influenced Romani dialects: the results of the Russian influence practically can be seen at every level of the NRRD language system. However, more detailed analysis of the dialect data shows that not all components of the language system of NRRD demonstrate the same degree of the changes, triggered by Russian influence. It is waited that "[m]orphosyntax is more strongly influenced by the contact phenomena than morphology proper" (Peter.Bakker & Yaron Matras") , and that word-order syntax is, maybe, the most influenced language level. But even at the "same" language level we may see the different consequences of the contact influence. Indeed, the nominal and verbal systems "behave" in a different way in various Romani dialects (including the NRRD) both in morphosyntax and "morphology proper". In the domain of the verbal system various degrees of contact transparency is obvious, e.g., for the category of modality and that of voice (V.Friedman).

This paper will be focused on those "common-Romani" features in NRRD, which resist the Russian influence. Attention will be paid mostly to the morphosyntactic and syntactic phenomena. The variety of the "degree of resistence" of the different components of the language system will be explained by the variety of nature of the real mechanisms involved into contact processes taking place between the two languages. The NRRD situation will be compared to that of other Romani dialects.

Jeanette Sakel, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig

Differences in the Degree of Language Endangerment: the Case of Mosetén

The language isolate Mosetén (Chimane, Tsimane') consists of three dialects (they are sometimes considered separate languages): Mosetén de Covendo, Mosetén de Santa Ana and Chimane. These dialects are spoken in Bolivia, the area reaching from the eastern slopes of the Andes (Mosetén) to the edge of the Amazon basin (Chimane). Linguistically very closely related, the sociolinguistic situation of the dialects differs enormously: The two Mosetén dialects have about 500 speakers together, while Chimane is spoken by 3500 to 5000 people. The speakers of Mosetén de Santa Ana, in its main region, are mostly older people. Mosetén de Covendo is still learned by few children, though the use of the language in the community is decreasing, and mostly Spanish is used. Chimane, on the other hand, seems to do very well, and is one of the few indigenous languages in Bolivia with an increasing number of speakers. Furthermore, many speakers of Chimane are monolinguals, while almost all speakers of Mosetén de Santa Ana and Mosetén de Covendo also speak Spanish.

I want to outline the situations of Mosetén de Covendo, Mosetén de Santa Ana and Chimane, looking at the factors that lead to language endangerment / language maintenance. Such factors include the accessibility of the region, the influence of foreign missionaries, and the live and national status of the speakers. I will also take into account linguistic matters, such as the influence of Spanish on the language structure.

Esa-Jussi Salminen, Helsinki

Is Udmurt an Endangered Language?

In contemporary Udmurt there are many Russian words. Russian is the language which is the potential threat to Udmurt. I will suggest that Russian is not such a threat to Udmurt as it may seem at first. I will discuss this matter from two points of view: the way  Russian language has effected the Udmurt language and secondly the ways how language purification effects on preserving the Udmurt language. Luckily the structure of the two languages is very different. Changes which would ruin the whole structure of  Udmurt language don't usually take place. For example in Udmurt should be said kule ke 'if needed' lit. "needed if". Because of the great Russian influence sometimes jesli kule ke "if needed if" is said, where both structures are used. The word order changes, and the Udmurt structures are omitted, only by speakers who really do not know the language. They can sometimes, but very rarely say jesli kule or shto malpad oz'y 'that you thought so' instead of o'zy malpad shusa "so thought you saying/that". Russian verbs are used in infinitive before the auxiliary verb karyny, which is inflected, for example import'irovat' karyny 'import'. The structures with karyny are very widely used also in genuine udmurt language. Other way is to add suffix ty, for example zvonit'tyny 'to make a telephone call', even if the own word zhingyrtyny is most commonly used. Both ways (with verb karyny and with suffix ty) are typical Udmurt ways of saying things. Adjectives from Russian never have gender endings in Udmurt: for example Ru glavnyj, glavnaja, glavnoje, Ud glavnoj. Substantives are the group where the purification is most urgently needed for the number of the loans. All Udmurts could easily find an Udmurt expression for for example subway, but they prefer the Russian expression because it sounds more common, more like concept, official definition of the subject. Furthermore Russian words are used often just for fun just as Finnish use English words for fun. Language shift has also many important funcions in every bilingual community. In all the Russian influence is not very deep and it is possible to throw Russian words from the Udmurt language. Udmurts themselves seem to be more and more interested in purifying their language. Udmurt linguists have invented many new linguistic terms. And e.g. the names of days and months from Russian and Udmurt are "struggling " with each other in Udmurt. In my opinion this kind of purification would have many good effects. It would increase the usability of the language. The Russian and new Udmurt words could also sometimes both remain in the language when there develops a difference in meaning. Nobody, not even Udmurts themselves would very long be interested in doing anything for the good of a status of a language which is half Russian. But if the Udmurt language is 100 %:ly (or  almost) Udmurt it can be interesting to many people. Udmurt language is not in great danger now and when the purifying strengthens the danger totally disappears. The same I should recommend for all endangered or small languages.

Tapani Salminen, University of Helsinki

Linguists and Language Endangerment in North-Western Siberia

My presentation consists of three parts. The introductory part deals with a number of general problems in the study of the languages across a broad area of northern Eurasia. The questions under scrutiny include definitions of language and language family boundaries, terminological issues such as English language names, and basic information about the history of linguistic studies in the area.

The core part of the presentation focusses on the language scene of north-western Siberia, an area covering the vast West Siberian Plain, and reaching the Urals in the west and the Yenisei river basin in the east. The languages to be discussed represent the Mansi, Khanty, and Samoyed branches of the Uralic language family.

The main purpose of the presentation is to answer the simple question of whether and how the endangerment level of the languages in north-western Siberia manifests itself in the rate of change and the extent of variation in their grammar and lexicon. It turns out that two different answers are possible.

Firstly, it may be that the language of the terminal generation of speakers, that is, those speakers whose younger relatives have no command of their ancestral language, is not markedly different from the language of earlier generations. In other words, in north-western Siberia, the language shift from the traditional language to Russian has often taken place very rapidly, through a single, fully bilingual generation that, while forced to speak only Russian to their children, has been largely able to retain the grammatical and lexical features of their monolingual parents. That there are obvious exceptions to this generalization becomes clear when individual languages are dealt with, for instance, there seems to exist a variety that can be called Young People's Nganasan, and in cases of slower language shifts such as the loss of knowledge of Kamas, discussed by Gerson Klumpp in his conference paper, extensive structural changes over the last generations of speakers can be observed. In the case of most languages in north-western Siberia, however, it seems that there has simply been no time for any mixed language varieties to develop, except, perhaps, on a purely individual basis.

The uncertainty of the preceding statement reflects the possibility of another answer to the question of the impacts of language endangerment in north-western Siberia, namely that we don't know. It turns out that most if not all linguists working with the indigenous comminities in question have concentrated on documenting the most traditional varieties available of each language, and consequently ignored the potential evidence of changes in the language of terminal speakers. Most alarmingly, few or no linguists have been studying the final stages of languages like Western Mansi and Southern Khanty that have recently become or are soon becoming - we don't seem to be sure of that either - extinct, or languages such as Eastern Mansi, still with a handful of speakers but not studied for several decades. It's quite understandable that since closely related and more vigorous language communities exist, scholars have rather wanted to work with them, but undoubtedly, a lot of information has by now been irretrievably lost. In other areas where extiction in the near future is a real threat, notably the Central and Southern Selkup and the Tundra and Forest Enets, competent scholars are active, yet the information of the language of the last generations is largely anecdotal.

I wish to finish my presentation with a brief case study of the language community that I'm working with at the moment, that is, the Forest Nenets. Until the recent oil boom starting in the 1960s, they had been one of the most isolated indigenous communities in the Soviet Union, and in many ways, they have remained separate from the mainstream society up till today. Despite their small number, somewhere between one and two thousand people, and extensive bilingualism in Russian among younger generations, the language shift has barely begun and few signs of Russian influence can be observed in the core area of the Forest Nenets in the Pur County of the Yamal Nenets Autonomous District. The reasons why the story of the Forest Nenets needs to be told are therefore not strictly linguistic, but they represent a rather extreme example of a language community whose willingness to survive through their own efforts has not been broken, but who nevertheless face grave pressure from the outside society, including massive and unquestionably destructive relocation plans by the local Russian administration. I will conclude my presentation with video excerpts depicting the current situation of the Forest Nenets.

Hiroshi Shoji, Osaka

Who is to Define Language Endangerment?

During the past decade, arguments on endangered languages have constituted one of the major issues in linguistics. They have mostly been concerned with how to save or vitalize languages in danger, or what to accuse for driving them to the danger of extinction. Little attention, however, has been paid to the definition of language endangerment in general. My purpose here is, firstly, to interpret the notion of language endangerment from different points of view, and, secondly, to illustrate, with reference to my observations of a Chinese minority language, that people's views of their language in terms of endangerment may differ widely even among the agents concerned with it.

Extinction may, in a general sense, simply mean endangerment of a biological existence. This analogy, however, is not without reservation applicable to language, for, as we have seen from numerous cases, the extinction of a language does not necessarily mean the extinction of its people, or even their suffering from it. The loss of a language is usually compensated by another language, which we call language shift. On the other hand, the extinction of a language is often compared to that of a living species, or regarded identical with the loss of one human cognitive cosmos, embodied in the language. Language is considered here, with the multitude of its varieties, as guaranteeing wide potential to the mankind, and is, once lost, irrecoverable. Linguists are, therefore, mostly keen on acquiring statistic figures of their target language(s), and speculating how long they would exist, if no appropriate measures are taken. Meanwhile, a suffering feeling related to language endangerment might emerge in people, even if the language is comparatively vigorous. In the second part of my paper I take a closer look at this problem in the light of the linguistic situation of Monguor.

Monguor is spoken by about 60 - 70% of the Monguors (appr. 200,000), mainly in eastern Qinghai. Monguor, a traditionally unwritten language, has been so far well preserved and used as a daily language by the majority of Monguors, and most children in Monguor villages are principally monolingual in Monguor until their school age, when they start to be taught in Han Chinese. Thus, Monguor does not, at this moment, seem to be threatened by an immediate danger of extinction. However, due to its exclusion from the school education system and the lack of its official status, it may, also by the effects of urbanization and commercialism, encounter the overwhelming expansion of Han Chinese to the Monguor community in the near future, which, further, may break the balanced coexistence of the two languages in favor of Han Chinese. Since the 1980's, there have been efforts to provide Monguor with a writing system. In the course of my study of the people's attitudes toward this attempt, I was able to sort out distinctive images about their language, which may offer a key for understanding the subjective reality of language endangerment.

Sikharulidze Tariel and Kurdiani Michael, Tbilisi State University

Minor Nations' Language Saving Program CANCELLED

In modern world the intensive assimilation of minor nations and their languages is under way. This process is characteristic for the Caucasus as well, where considerable number of languages (more than 40) is represented on a comparatively small territory. The most numerous among them is Iberian  Caucasian language family, where Georgian, Abkhaz  Adigian, Nakhur and Dagestanize language groups united. All but Georgians (the writing tradition goes back to 5th century), have newly established written languages.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Iberian Caucasus languages turned out in different states, which determined the difference of their position: In Georgia, Georgian is the official state language, but the situation has not changed for Northern Caucasus; the knowledge of Russian is obligatory, as no other language is used in official spheres. The given circumstances facilitate to the assimilation of minor nations and languages. Military conflicts aggravate existing ethnic situation, create emigrational processes and determines dispersed settlement of the nations of Northern Caucasus, which also worsens their state. These processes are characteristic both for Russia and Georgia.

In this respect the present state of Ud and their language (old Albanian) is noteworthy. This aborigine population now lives only in one village, Nadzi, at the territory of Modern Azerbaijan, though 10 years ago they would have been found the village called Vartasheni too. During the first Azeri-Armenian conflict in 1920, part of this people moved to Georgia (district of Kvareli, village called Oktomberi 1920  1922). Azeri -Armenian conflict of the 80th forced Uds from Vartasheni to leave their homeland. Russia opened an eight-year-long compulsory school for Uds (language of study was Ud) in Georgia and in 1934 the first ABC book in Ud was published. But it became impossible to preserve this language because of the mixed marriages between Georgians and Uds, which was determined by the fact that both nations prophesize the same religion Orthodox Christianity. Today in fact only the elder generation knows their native language, that is an undoubted sign that soon this language will degenerate. The Batsbian language also undergoes strong assimilation in Georgia. The same can be stated about the Georgian dialects of the mountainous districts. In fact, we witness the death of many dialects and languages. We fixed the degeneration of these languages in many thesis and monographs, which cannot preserve and express the natural sound and peculiarities (such as melody, richness of intonation, specifics of articulation, the question of stress etc.) of them.

The aim of the given project is to save - to fix, Caucasian languages, with the help of audio-visual means. In fact, we speak about the creation of the phonotec of Caucasian languages (sound records on laser discs by digital method, and also encyclopedia on laser discs for computers, internet sites with audio and video data transmission and downloading possibilities) writing down texts. This is not only linguistic material, first of all this is block-notes (stories) put down by the language holder, where the traditions, customs and habits of the concerned nation are reflected. The comparison of the gained language material will make will revitalize the relationship of the Iberian  Caucasian languages, which now attained extremely high political significance.

To fulfill these aims, the joint efforts of caucasiologist of the region are necessary. They will facilitate to resume the old cooperation and to build new relations among our nations; and we take into consideration that the establishing of Peace in the Caucasus answers the interests of the civilized world, and takes a global character.

Sven-Erik Soosaar, Tartu University and Institute of the Estonian Language

Conscious Language Renewal as a Way to Assure Future for Endangered Languages and to Foster their Speakers' Self-Esteem

The development of vocabulary to meet the needs of modern world is one of vitally important tasks for every language. There are two basic methods to solve this problem: either to borrow words for new and missing concepts from other languages or to create own words. I will discuss the pros and contras for both methods and exemplify the results on a set of different languages.

I will compare a set of ca 30 words (covering concepts for social life, technical artefacts and terms of culture) in ca 20 languages, some of these big and international languages (English, German, Japanese, Russian), others relatively safe languages with smaller number of speakers (e.g. Estonian, Icelandic, Lithuanian) and third group of endangered or revitalised languages or languages of colonies (e.g. Basque, Breton, Cornish, Greenlandic, Komi, Mari, Nenets).

It will be shown, that languages, which lack it's own vocabulary for modern concepts are often not used by the educated speakers, these languages are used only by the people who continue to live in traditional way. The more they get into contact with the western culture, they will lose their language, because it is impossible to use it to speak about modern western society without using numerous raw loans from dominating languages. The result will be constant disuse of native language and it's ultimate disappearance as it is no more taught to children, who are often embarrassed to speak it even if they have some knowledge of it.

The solution would be conscious development of vocabulary, like it was done in the case of Estonian in the beginning of 20th century or Hungarian in the middle of 19th century. There are made some efforts in this direction in case of e.g. Mari and Komi languages, whereas in case of most smaller languages of Russia no work is done for the language development and these languages are doomed to disappear, if no steps are taken to modernise vocabulary and to enhance the teaching of it.

Ether Soselia and Marine Ivanishvili, The Oriental Institute, Georgian Academy of Sciences

Passivization in Megrelian and Laz CANCELLED

The passive voice forms are marked morphologically in all the Kartvelian languages: Georgian, Megrelian, Laz, Svan.

In Georgian there are three devices of passivization:

  1. By prefixes (i-cer-eb-a "is written", e-cer-eb-a "is written to somebody or something", i- and e- prefixes are passive voice markers);
  2. By suffixes (shen-d-eb-a "is built", -d suffix is a passive maker);
  3. No morphemes (tb-eb-a "is wormed");

Megrelian and Laz exactly repeat the system of passivization attested in Georgian. The principle of deriving voice forms is almost the same:

  1. By prefixes (Megr:  i-car-u-(n), Laz:  i-car-e-(n) "is written", Megr: a-car-u-(n), Laz: a-car-e-(n) "is written to somebody or something",i- end a- prefixes are passive voice makers);
  2. By suffixes (Megr: gomocqor-d-u-(n), Laz: gomockon-d-u-(n) "I shell forget"; Megr: go-cit-on-d-u, Laz: d-i-m-cit-an-u "is reddened". -d suffixal passive forms are rare in Megrelian and Laz);
  3. No morphemes (Megr: tib-u-(n), Laz: tib-u-n "is wormed", Megr: xom-u-(n), Laz: xom-u-n "is dried");

As in many other languages Kartvelian passive voice forms are divided into different semantic groups: deponents, potentials, dispositions, involuntaries and some others. In Megrelian the grammatical category of potentials is based in the passive voice forms.

Taking into account the whole corpus of the Kartvelian passive voice forms all the possible semantic groups are analyzed and using passive forms for them is explained by sharing some features with the passive prototype.

Manana Tabidze, Georgian Academy of Sciences

Problems of Ecology of the Georgian Language in Conditions of Foreign Interference in the Geopolitical Reality of the Caucasus CANCELLED

1. The influence of the geopolitical status of a state on the process of development and changes in language (and dialect) reality is indisputable.

2. Through her centuries-old development, Georgia has distributed language alternativeness (dialects) on the bans of the social and political activity of this or that region in terms of its role in the formation of the Georgian state (literary) language; the historical consideration of maintenance of indestructibility of a balance between the state language and its regional varieties is felt also, by which due, to the foresight of Georgian kings and eminent state figures and strongly developed national self-identity, the incontestable leadership of the Georgian literary language is strong in such nationally important spheres, as worship, education, office-work etc.

3. Taking into account the importance of the lexicological and phraseological wealth and variety of dialects in the enrichment and constant vital movement of the literary language, complete freedom of development was given to dialects under regular contact with the literary language.

4. Scholarship has an opportunity to observe the development of the Georgian literary language from the 4th century, old manuscripts preserving not only the diachronic picture of the development of the literary language, but also enable fragmentary description of some dialects belonging to regions that for same reason (in most cases, owing to political or social progress) held leading or privileged or, at some historical moment, the main role in the preservation of national originality.

5. The history has shown that the Georgian language and the entire Kartvelian (Georgian) world preserved the single identity and common language orientation in conditions of the government protection and at state self-perception, but in the 19th century, when the Georgian state was abolished as a result of its occupation by the Russian empire, all aspects of national identity, including language identity, underwent significant reinterpretation and the Georgian people switched over to a new wave - protection of its national and language integrity in conditions of a hostile and assimilatory policy of the Russian empire (among which are: the closing down of Georgian schools, an attempt to divide Georgians by dialectal affinity, a compact resettlement of ethnic groups of non-Georgian nationality on frontier territories of Georgia, the change of Georgian divine service to Russian, etc.);

6. In the 19th century the Russian empire began to assimilate the Georgian territory by having the Georgian royal dynasty and the state structure replaced by the system of vice-rays, by removing the historical borders of Transcaucasian peoples and nationalities, and by artificially creating centers of ethnic and language conflicts, thus destroying the historically tested and justified ethno-linguistic balance of the Caucasus, and so began the deliberate planning and ruling of the language situation in this extremely complex and multifaceted language region.

7. The 20th century was marked by strong interference on the part of the Russian empire (early in the century by monarchical, and then communist) in the historical development of the Caucasus (in the field of change of historical borders of the demographic situation, ethnic contacts, language conflicts, seeking aspiration to destroy the integrity of the internal self-consciousness of identity).

8. As it turned out, even the persistent and rigid language policy of the Russian empire failed to alter the stability of the centuries-old traditional Georgian state language or lead to language (and, accordingly, ethnic) assimilation of the population of Georgia, therefore the centre strengthened the military-demographic drive, which was carried out throughout the 19th century continuing to this day in the Caucasus and expressed in mass resettlement of the aborigine population (refugees) from the places of their historical residence (for example, all the total expulsion of Georgians from Abkhazia and Samachablo etc.), that threatens the ecology of the Georgian language in several regions of Georgia.

Jimena Terraza

Towards a Language Planning of the Endangered Languages in Argentina: The Case of the Wichi Language in the Southwestern Region of the Province of Salta

The fate of the indigenous languages in Argentina is similar to that of the rest of South America. To a large extent, the Spanish conquest, the diseases and the language policies have caused the gradual decline of those languages. Out of thirty five languages that were spoken when the first Spaniards arrived in the sixteenth century, only twelve are still in use today, and one of them, the Tehuelche, is not likely to survive much longer.

The focus of this research will be the situation of the Wichi language. Better known as Mataco , this language is part of the Mataco-Mataguaya family along with Chorote, Chulupi and Maka. Since there is a lack of reliable census, we do not know the exact number of Wichi speakers, but we estimate it to be somewhere between thirty and forty thousand. Compared to other aboriginal languages, the degree of vitality of Wichi is quite high mostly due to the fact that there are large numbers of monolingual speakers as well as endogamic practices. . In addition, several local laws have fostered bilingual education and such programmes have been developed. The publication of pedagogical material also motivated scholars, teachers and native speakers to initiate a discussion on the standardisation of the alphabet. Already in early Twentieth century, Anglican missionary and linguist R. Hunt developed an orthography of Whichi and since that time, a variety of alphabets have been created.

In this regard, the general sociolinguistic situation of the Whichi language appears to be quite positive. However, a number of communities are experiencing a language shift. In many cases, locals have stopped teaching the language to their offspring and have often stopped using it themselves in favour of Spanish. The purpose of our project is to describe this situation by analysing the number of speakers according to the gender and age variables *as well as to look at the disruption in the transmission of the language. Furthermore, we shall present a brief study of the linguistic attitudes.**

This analysis will constitute the first step towards implementing language planning that could help reverse this language shift. We believe that even if only a comparatively small number of communities are experiencing such a language shift, their situation reveals a deep trend. Even languages enjoying a theoretically high degree of vitality can suffer the same fate. That is, the language shifting process can be spread to the rest of the linguistic communities. Furthermore, the small number of communities already affected by this process constitute in and of themselves a problem worth considering

Angela Terrill, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig

Language Shift in a Language Resistant to Borrowing: a Solomon Islands Case Study

This paper examines the implications of grammatical structure for lexical borrowing, as a facet of language shift.

Lavukaleve is an indigenous language of the Russell Island group of the Solomon Islands. With about 2000 speakers, it is of an equal size to most of the other 80 or so languages of the Solomon Islands. Like all indigenous languages of the Solomon Islands, Lavukaleve is facing the pressure of the lingua franca of the Solomon Islands, Solomon Islands Pijin. Lavukal people can be divided into three main linguistic groups, based on their retention of their language; these groups fall into three geographic regions, differing mainly in their proximity and ease of access to the main town.

In the group nearest to the town, Pijin has overtaken Lavukaleve as the language of daily communication; in the group furthest from access to the town, Lavukaleve is the only language of daily use, although most people speak some Pijin. In the middle group, Lavukaleve and Pijin are both used as a daily means of communication.

Evidence suggests that before language shift takes place (from Lavukaleve to Pijin), Lavukaleve undergoes minimal structural change; there are no 'intermediate' forms of the language as speakers start using Pijin more heavily. Rather, there is sudden generational shift. The reasons for this structural conservatism are grammatical as much as social; Lavukaleve is extremely resistant to borrowings from other languages, in part because of the morphological complexity associated with individual lexical items.

For example, verbs may be borrowed, but borrowed verbs cannot take inflections, which means that they can only be used in one construction, involving a bare lexical item and inflected auxiliary verb. Nouns, too are difficult to borrow. Indigenous nouns have gender and take highly irregular and unpredictable dual and plural suffixes, which must be learned with each lexeme. Borrowed words can be assigned a gender without difficulty, but assigning dual and plural suffixes to new lexemes is awkward, and speakers tend to avoid having to do this.

Evidence suggests that resistance to borrowing has always been the case throughout the history of Lavukaleve; surrounded by Oceanic languages for thousands of years, Lavukaleve has had almost no Oceanic influence beyond a tiny amount of vocabulary.

Community efforts to resist language loss are focused on the production of written materials in Lavukaleve. In many language communities such programs have been ineffective (cf. Fishman, Mühlhäusler etc.), especially for communities in which, as in Russell Islands, literacy has a minimal role in daily life and where there are high levels of illiteracy in the community. Despite this it is argued that in the given situation the production of these kinds of materials is a highly appropriate response to the problem. Written materials have an emblematic function, serving to bolster the prestige of the indigenous language in the community, which is one way to halt the pattern of abrupt generational shift that has occurred in some Lavukaleve communities.

Nikolai Vakhtin, European University at St. Petersburg

Language Death Prognosis: A Critique of Judgment

The aim of this presentation is to analyze and challenge our ability of judgment in the area of language endangerment and attrition. I will demonstrate that our prognostications about decrease in linguistic diversity, although they may be true, are not necessarily true due to certain characteristics of the sources of the data linguists use. Several sources of data can be used, and are used, to assess the situation with a given language. Among others, these are: own field data and observations; published data and observations by other scholars who conducted fieldwork in the area; "objective" information: state and local census data, statistical data of different kinds; statements by indigenous scholars, local activists, ethnic elites - usually in the form of publications in the media, at seminars and conferences, etc. I will try to show that each of these sources of information contains a trap, and that these traps are very difficult, if at all possible, to avoid.

Arnfinn Muruvik Vonen, University of Oslo

Cochlear Implantation - Another Tool for Endangering Languages?

This paper addresses current discussion of the linguistic and educational needs of deaf children with cochlear implants in the context of language endangerment. The focus of the paper will be on the situation of Norwegian Sign Language (NSL), the primary language of approximately 4,000 deaf people in Norway. However, the discussion will also be relevant to the situations in other countries where cochlear implantation is becoming widespread and educational consequences of this are being discussed.

Given that the vast majority of deaf children are born in families with hearing, Norwegian-speaking parents, deaf children are dependent, more so than other children, on society's educational policies for their linguistic development. In 1997, deaf children in Norway were given the legal right to receive their education in NSL. This was the result of a long process of informing the country's central educational authorities about the linguistic nature of NSL - a language that had been oppressed and ignored for a very long time - and its unique potential as a learning tool for children who have limited sensory access to spoken language utterances. Independently of this process, however, the medical technological industry developed a new kind of hearing aid known as the cochlear implant, a device whose crucial part consists of a set of electrodes which are implanted into the cochlea in the the inner ear so that acoustic signals can be conveyed to the auditory nerve in spite of the person's deafness. In the most recent years this surgery has been carried out on small children to an ever increasing extent. The resulting auditory function in the child cannot as yet be reliably predicted and varies considerably. Professionals and others are in disagreement about the language policy to be chosen for children with cochlear implants. One camp has greeted the new technology with excitement, not only because it is expected to make deaf children (partially) hearing, but also because they expect that the children with the implant will not need to be exposed to NSL. Another camp has warned that the need for a fully accessible language will not disappear even if a child has an implant, and that the new technology is being used as a tool for returning to the times of oppression of NSL.

The main purpose of the paper will be to give a presentation of the current situation in Norway by means of text excerpts and to discuss similarities and differences between the situation facing NSL and situations of spoken language endangerment more familiar to most linguists.

Monica Ward, School of Computer Applications, Dublin

A Template for a CALL Program for Endangered Languages

This project provides a template for a CALL  (Computer Assisted Language Learning) program for Endangered Languages.  There are many CALL programs available for the major languages of the world but very few exist for Endangered Languages.

It is not easy to develop a CALL program - there are many factors to consider: what to teach, how to teach it, what technology to use etc.  In the case of the world's major languages, various resources may be available, but the same is not true for Endangered Languages.  Endangered Language communities simply do not have the combination of technical, linguistic and pedagogical expertise that is required to produce a CALL program.  There are a limited (but growing) number of web sites available for communities that speak endangered languages and generally, the language teaching part of these web-sites (if they exist) is fairly basic.  Often, teaching strategies experienced by the authors will be used as a basis for the language teaching element of a web site.

This project provides a template for a complete beginner's course in a given (endangered) language.  It has a suggested syllabus (which can be modified).  It incorporates current pedagogical techniques about language learning in each lesson.  The idea is that Endangered Language communities will be able to use this template to develop their own CALL programs, without having to start from scratch.

The project uses the Pipil language of El Salvador as its target language.  Pipil (also know as Nahuat or Nawat) is an Uto-Aztecan language, that is extremely endangered.  The Ethnologue reports that there are approximately 20 speakers, although based on a research visit to El Salvador, I consider this number to be perhaps a little conservative. Most of the speakers are elderly, but there are several projects underway to teach the language to children.  The Pipil minority lives in poor economic and social conditions and the level of illiteracy is quite high.  However, they are keen that the language should not become extinct.

Apart from providing a CALL program, this project also considers some of the issues faced by Endangered language documentation projects.  For example, there are several different alphabets for Pipil, some based on a phonetic alphabet, some based on the Spanish alphabet and others based on the English alphabet.  The use of XML technology allows different presentation formats to be used.  Although Pipil can be written with the characters of the Spanish alphabet, languages that use more exotic characters could be accommodated with the use of Unicode.

The very fact that some part of the language will be digitally stored will preserve a fragment of the language for future generations.  It is hoped that given the XML base of the program, it will be able to be integrated in some way with the current initiatives regarding web-based language documentation.


Lynn Landweer

Indicators of Ethnolinguistic Vitality Germane to the Papua New Guinea Setting

I would present at least eight sociolinguistic factors giving a hierarchy of values (graded manifestations of those factors), that suggested a relative ranking of the assessed language on a scale  ranging from endangered to viable.  The presentation would be based on an instrument I developed for assessing relative ethnolinguistic strength of minority languages here in Papua New Guinea.

Ilya Nikolaev, St.Petersburg University

The Construction of a Full-Text Database on Balto-Finnic Languages and Russian Dialects in Northwest-Russia

The vicinity of St.Petersburg and the southern and middle parts of Karelia represent a specific linguistic picture where up to today in close vicinity such languages as Vepsian, Ingrian (Izhorian), Votic, Ingermanland-Finnish and Karelian and various types of Russian archaic dialects are spoken. The situation is complicated by their lasting interactions. Under the present circumstances it is very urgent to collect recorded data from speakers of Baltic-Finnish languages and archaic Russian dialects and to construct a database from these data.

The Project "The  construction of a  full-text database on Baltic-Finnish languages and Russian dialects in northwestern Russia"  is prepared in a co-operation of St.Petersburg University (Russia), Groningen University (The Netherlands),  Petrozavodsk University (Karelia, Russia), and Joensuu University (Finland).

The main objectives of the Project are as follows:

  1. to reveal and analyze various types of written sources for disappearing Baltic-Finnish languages and archaic Russian dialects in Russia's Northwest area;
  2. to seek and record unparalleled modern text samples for these languages;
  3. to construct dictionary and full-text databases on Baltic-Finnish languages and archaic northwestern Russian dialects;
  4. to compile both conventional paper and electronic dictionaries.

The database obtained will be used for scientific purposes (the study of language variety in Russia and language contact) and for the development of methods for language teaching in a bicultural environment. It will provide a good opportunity for investigating ethnic and cultural processes in the contact zone  of ancient Slavonic and Baltic-Finnish languages. This effort to preserve indigenous languages and traditional knowledge is a very urgent task, in particular in the Russian Federation. The database obtained will be used for scientific purposes (the study of language variety in Russia and language contact) and for the development of methods for language teaching in a bicultural environment. It will provide the best opportunity for investigating ethnic and cultural processes in the contact zone  of ancient Slavonic and Baltic-Finnish languages. This effort to preserve enhanced indigenous languages and traditional knowledge is a very urgent task, in particular in the Russian Federation.

The demonstration will present the main features of the project, the structure of the database, tasks to be fulfilled by the participants and the results of the first year of the project.


Anna-Riitta Lindgren, University of Tromsoe

Saamis in Helsinki and Their Own Language

The languages of the indigenous peoples and the national minorities of North Calotte (the northernmost areas in Finland, Sweden and Norway) are all to be considered as endangered, according to the research work performed on sociology of languages in these areas since the 1960s by several scholars. The languages are three Saami languages in Finland, three Saami languages in Sweden and Norway (one of them is the same as one of those in Finland), Meänkieli in Sweden and Kven language in Norway. Processes of language shift to the national majority languages among these groups are a consequence of the national assimilation politics in each of the three states beginning at the end of the 19th century, combined with the rapid modernization during the 20th century. The ethnic awakening of minorities and indigenous peoples beginning in the latter half of the 20th century is now changing the situation. Today, there is a race between assimilation and revitalization of the local languages.

Because of the modernization, a notable part of the minorities and indigenous people of North Calotte has moved to cities. Approximately one third of Finland's 7000 or so Saamis live outside the Saami area. Over the past few decades important Saami communities have grown up in several Nordic cities. Helsinki has had a Saami association since the 1970s, and the present one, City-Sámit, founded in 1988, is one of the most active local Saami societies in Finland.

A new concept, the city Saami, has emerged. This conflicts with all the stereotypic images prevailing both among the non-Saamis and the Saamis themselves. The city Saamis have, however, been active from the very beginning in the international ethnic awakening. Thanks to their active cultural policy, the city Saamis have also become a significant group within the present-day Saami nation.

The present research looks at the language(s) spoken by Saamis living in Helsinki in the 1990s. The material was collected by interviewing 26 persons and the results give qualitative information on the use of the Saami language among Saamis in the city. Before the migration to Helsinki, most of the informants spoke Saami. After the migration, the use of the Saami language of different persons has developed very differently. The informants were divided into three categories according to their linguistic history: a) persons who were once Saami-Finnish bilingual but who have subsequently stopped speaking Saami, b) speakers of either Saami and Finnish or Finnish only who have continued either bilingualism or monolingualism according to the pattern established in childhood and adolescence, and c) language revivalists of various types. A few of the bilingual people have started to write Saami as well as speaking it and to use spoken Saami, too, in a broader context. Some of the bilingual people spoke Saami considerably less after moving to the city but have since begun using it fully again. Some who spoke only Finnish as children have studied Saami and begun speaking it with other Saamis.

Many of the city Saamis have a very clear Saami identity. There are, on the other hand, persons of Saami descent living in the city who have preferred to assimilate with the majority - some deliberately due to a social stigma experienced in childhood, others merely because they feel they have grown apart or for some other reason. The personal identity strategy was classified under one of four categories and seemed to have a significant effect on the extent to which the informant used Saami. Among city Saamis, ethnic awareness appears to be a notable factor contributing to bilingualism.

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