ELL: Request

Rob Amery rob.amery at ADELAIDE.EDU.AU
Wed May 24 04:43:38 UTC 2000

Dear Colleagues,
Can I take this opportunity to promote my own thesis, soon to be published.
My PhD, originally entitled "Warrabarna Kaurna! Reclaiming Aboriginal
Languages from Written Historical Sources: Kaurna Case Study" was completed
at the University of Adelaide in June 1998. It will be published by Swets &
Zeitlinger, Lisse in The Netherlands in August 2000 under the title
"Warrabarna Kaurna: Reclaiming an Australian Language".

Short Description:
This book addresses the questions:-

1. Is it possible to revive a language that once ceased to be spoken, on
the basis of written records?
2. What is the nature of this language revival?
3. What factors support such a revival?
4. What are the limitations?

This is a longitudinal study of the reclamation of Kaurna (both as a
linguistic and social process) which is taking place within the context of
a linguistic and cultural renaissance and re-emergence of a distinctive
Kaurna identity over the last few decades.

In this book I take an ecological perspective, that is one that focusses on
the functional links between the language and its support structures. I
trace the history of Kaurna drawing on all known sources (mostly from the
period 1836-1858) and all known emerging uses for the language in the
modern period (1989-1997). In reclaiming Kaurna, key leaders and members of
the community are working in collaboration with linguists and educators.

Kaurna language revival began with the writing of six songs in 1990. Since
then, the language has developed considerably; Kaurna programs have been
established and expanded across several institutions catering for a range
of learners; increasingly, the language is being used in public by members
of the Kaurna community; the range of functions for which the language is
being used continues to expand; and there are early signs that the language
is beginning to take root within Nunga households.

We are still in the very early stages of Kaurna language revival. Will the
Kaurna language take the "great leap forward" and emerge as an everyday
language within the Kaurna community? Experience elsewhere tells us that
the prospects for this to happen are slender. However, the programs have
already been a success in the eyes of the Kaurna community and within the
education sector.

This study is breaking new ground. In the Kaurna case, very little
knowledge of the language remains within the Aboriginal community. Yet
linguistic heritage is still important as a marker of identity and as a
means by which Kaurna people can further the struggle for recognition,
reconciliation and liberation. This study challenges widely held beliefs as
to what is possible in language revival and notions about the very nature
of language and its development.

2. Outstanding Features:
* this study is pioneering a method for the revival of languages no longer
spoken on the basis of historical materials
* it challenges accepted beliefs about the impossibility of reviving
so-called 'dead' or 'extinct' languages. It shows in a practical way that
this is a real possibility. Furthermore it demonstrates how this might be
accomplished, at least in relation to the Kaurna language.
* this study provides a detailed account of the very earliest stages of a
language revival movement
* it documents carefully and systematically the steps taken to reclaim the
Kaurna language over a decade, from the time people first thought about
reviving it.
* it documents the majority of use of the Kaurna language over that period,
something which would be impossible for the majority of the world's
languages. This accomplishment is, I believe, unique amongst language

Rob Amery

>Dear Colleagues,
>   Are there any  Ph.D. theses (or their published versions) which deal
>with issues such as:
>(1) language maintenance, language revival;
>(2) teaching of an endangered language or a minority language, or;
>(3) language policy or language planning of an endangered language
>      or a minority language.
>I know only one:
>Maguire, Gabrielle. 1991. Our own language[:] An Irish initiative.
>   Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
>   I would appreciate your information.
>Best wishes,
>Tasaku Tsunoda
>Tasaku Tsunoda
>Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology
>University of Tokyo
>Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0033, Japan
>Phone:  +81-3-5841-3790 (from August 1999)
>Fax:     +81-3-5803-2784   (from 16 July 1999)
>Endangered-Languages-L Forum: endangered-languages-l at carmen.murdoch.edu.au
>Web pages http://carmen.murdoch.edu.au/lists/endangered-languages-l/
>Subscribe/unsubscribe and other commands: majordomo at carmen.murdoch.edu.au

Dr Rob Amery
Linguistics, Centre for European Studies & General Linguistics
University of Adelaide
SA 5005.        AUSTRALIA
Tel (08) 83033405
Fax (08) 83035241       e-mail <ramery at arts.adelaide.edu.au>

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