printability and standardization

Aurolyn Luykx aurolynluykx at
Mon Jan 12 17:07:08 UTC 2004

King's argument is rather complex, but to briefly
summarize part of it here, she reports that the
successful standardization of Quichua and its
incorporation into schooling has indirectly led to an
even greater stigmatization and avoidance of
pre-existing non-standard dialects. Also that while
the standardized Quichua has gained some ground in
symbolic contexts, it continues to lose ground in
functions that are communicatively more important on a
day-to-day basis. Admittedly, it may be hard to get
worked up over prestige hierarchies between different
dialects within an indigenous language, when the more
immediate problem is that rapid disappearance of so
many languages altogether, but I'd argue that the two
issues are not unrelated. In other words, policies
meant to strengthen indigenous languages may
indirectly contribute to their demise, via unintended
ideological effects that elevate a new standard which
few people speak and denigrate more widespread
(non-standard) dialects. One more reason why it's just
as important for linguists to study their own
ideologies as those of "common speakers." And to
recall that parents' language choices for their
children are always embedded in these shifting
ideological sands. Kendall, care to weigh in on any of
p.s. to Stan -- certainly the isolation of many
indigenous groups is what has helped their languages
survive as long as they have. In Bolivia, bilingual
education will now make schooling accessible to so
many more indigenous children who were previously
marginalized from it, but that very act of bringing
them into the educational fold will most likely lead
many or most of them to abandon the indigenous
language, eventually.

--- Stan & Sandy Anonby <stan-sandy_anonby at>
> I'd like to read King.  I haven't, so I might be off
> base, but aren't stratification, sociogeographical
> isolation, and disparities forces which help
> maintain languages and cultures?  If these problems
> didn't exist in Brazil, my feeling is that all the
> Indian communities would've switched to Portuguese
> by now.  I don't know the sociolinguistic dynamic in
> Ecuador and I think it's great that indigenous
> people there have won a political place in the
> wording of the constitution.  However, I wonder how
> much Quechua is really benefiting from this Indian
> zeitgeist.   If the situation is like Brazil, then I
> would bet that the Indians who were instrumental in
> bringing about these political changes do not speak
> their Indian languages well, if at all.  I don't
> doubt all this has had a positive
> social-psychological effect on minority children and
> within their communities, but does this mean they
> are speaking more Quechua?
> Stan
>   ----- Original Message -----
>   From: Rachel Reynolds
>   To: lgpolicy-list at
>   Sent: Monday, January 12, 2004 7:16 AM
>   Subject: RE: printability and standardization
>   I am wondering why no one has quite mentioned that
> language is just a single part of the ethnic/racial
> stratification scene in the United States (and
> elsewhere).  There is only so much that educating
> people about language can accomplish when race
> relations have a lot to do also with clean water
> supplies, prison, health care disparities (Christina
> mentioned this!), sociogeographical isolation of the
> poor, the impetus towards empire, enduring and
> changing commercialization of black bodies and
> sounds, etc. etc. etc.   The efficacy of language
> consciousness education depends of course on
> historical and cultural contexts of other forms of
> consciousness raising and the ethnic/class struggle
> (i.e. timing is everything).  Someone mentioned
> Kendall King's book earlier on Quechua,
> standardization and the classroom where, for
> example, in the introduction King points out that
> her ethnography takes place in a setting where
> indigenous people in Ecuador had just won a
> political place in the wording of the constitution
> and that the wide ranging effects of this will have
> mattered at a more pervasive level than the efforts
> of a single educational consortium.  Nonetheless,
> this educational consortium arose at the time of
> political change and was probably more effective
> because of its correlation with the zeitgeist. (that
> last part is me talking, not necessarily King whose
> book I do not presently have by my side).  That's
> related to why King concludes that language
> revitalization may not necessarily fully reinstate
> languages within all domains, but that it has a
> positive social-psychological effect on minority
> children and within their communities. (again, I
> hope I've summarized that accurately).
>   Wasn't it Marvin Harris who points out that
> changing superstructural concerns from the top, like
> language and its ideologies, have less likelihood of
> affecting the infrastructure or the structure of a
> social group?  While changes form the base, in the
> infrastructure and the structure will have
> wider-ranging on the superstructure?  When and how
> are minority language planning efforts likely to
> change the structure, I guess, is what I'm asking...
>   Rachel Reynolds
>   At 05:51 AM 1/12/2004 +0200, you wrote:
>     Christina's comment reminds me of a remark made
> by a Navajo graduate student of mine many years ago:
> by moving to the city, she knew it was unlikely that
> her son would grow up speaking Navajo, but at least
> she wouldn't have to carry water a mile or two every
> day.
>     Of course, those who stayed on the Reservation
> are speaking Navajo less and less.
>     Bernard
>       -----Original Message-----
>       From: owner-lgpolicy-list at
> [mailto:owner-lgpolicy-list at] On
> Behalf Of Christina Paulston
>       Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2004 9:54 PM
>       To: lgpolicy-list at
>       Subject: Re: printability and standardization
>       I must express myself extremely badly to be so
> misunderstood. Of course a person can be literate in
> more than one language or dialect - I read some
> seven languages, eight, myself. We are not, that is,
>  I am not talking about a linguistic problem but a
> social. Of course the LSA comment "from this
> perspective" they noted, was perfectly sound. It was
> the Black community across the country who rose up
> in protest at having AAVE imposed on them and you
> can give them all the linguistic information you
> want and it is not going to help.
>           What about South Africa, now with 11
> official languages? Many Afrikaners for
> "pedagogically sound" reasons now urge the African
> population to send their children to mother tongue
> schools - exactly the same policy enforced under
> apartheid for reasons of segregation.  Parents
> prefer education in English for their children - are
> you going to tell them they suffer from false
> consciousness ( a singularly brilliant concept,
> that)? There are as always other circumstances,
> quality of teachers, texts, etc but parents still
> want English.  And I think it should be their
> choice.
>           The problem of course becomes worse when
> the children and the parents disagree over that
> choice - which is not uncommon with immigrant
> groups.  I just object to linguists playing
> omniscient gods and recommending  options for life
> decisions on the basis of linguistic criteria.  Most
> people want a decent life, at least for their
> children, a good job, good health care (Bush should
> take note), a secure old age, etc, and if that
> necessitates another language, they don't care. Of
> course they can remain bilingual but the children
> usually don't think it is worth it.
>           Etc.  My very last comment, Christina
>       ----------
>       From: Ronald Kephart <rkephart at>
>       To: lgpolicy-list at
>       Subject: RE: printability and standardization
>       Date: Sun, Jan 11, 2004, 11:15 AM
>       At 11:02 AM -0600 1/10/04, Felicia Briscoe
> wrote:
>       ...There also seems to be an underlying
> assumption in much of the recent writing that
>       bilingualism is either very difficult to
> attain or that it is someway is detrimental to the
> person who is bilingual.  I find this a very strange
> assumption. Why can't a person be fully literate in
> AAVE and fully literate in standard English.  Why is
> it so often posed as an either/or option?
>     I think part of the answer lies in what
> anthropological linguist MJ Hardman calls our
> linguistic postulates: specifically, the importance
> of singularity. This manifests itself in all sorts
> of ways not only within our language but also how we
> think about language, as well as more widely: one
> "right" answer, one god, preference for individual
> over collective work, "most valuable players," the
> totalitarian nature of our corporations, even the
> prescriptive insistence on "he" rather than "they"
> as a generic pronoun. And of course, "one language."
>     See: Hardman, 1978, Linguistic postulates and
> applied anthropological linguistics, in Papers on
> linguistics and child language, edited by V. Honsa
> and M.J. Hardman-de-Bautista, 117-36. The Hague:
> Mouton.
>     --
>     Ronald Kephart
>     Sociology, Anthropology, & Criminal Justice
>     University of North Florida

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