Dissertation: Language Maintenance and Shift in Sardinia: A case study of Sardinian and Italian in Cagliari

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri Jan 25 15:37:28 UTC 2008

Language Maintenance and Shift in Sardinia: A case study of Sardinian
and Italian in Cagliari

Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Program: Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Maria Antonietta Marongiu

Dissertation Title: Language Maintenance and Shift in Sardinia: A case
study of Sardinian and Italian in Cagliari

Subject Language(s): Italian (ita)
                            Sardinian, Campidanese (sro)

Dissertation Director:
Eyamba Georges Bokamba
Suzanne Fagyal
Anna MarĂ­a Escobar

Dissertation Abstract:

This sociolinguistic research deals with language maintenance, shift, and
potential revitalization in a case of contact between two genetically
related languages, Sardinian, a minority endangered language, and Italian,
the dominant language of recent tradition, in Sardinia, Italy. The study is
based on multi-dimensional empirical data collected during two full
academic years in a vocational secondary school in Cagliari. It offers
evidence to gauge the stage that the Sardinian-Italian contact case has
reached, and what characterizes it in the most urbanized area of the
island. The research focused on the language contact dynamics spontaneously
occurring, and on the patterns of language use adopted by the adolescent
male students attending a vocational high school that serves the largest
urban center of Sardinia, Cagliari, its suburban area, and the surrounding
rural area. The investigation aimed to ascertain in part if the school
represented a feasible context for minority language shift or
revitalization by investigating how, if at all, the different degree of
urbanization affects speakers' language use. In order to do so, among the
other things, the study focused on the use of intra- and inter-sentential
CS and on the interactional motivations for code-switching.

The conclusions of this research interrogate the accuracy and
generalizability of the accepted timing of inter-generational language
shift. The analysis of the sociolinguistic data on language use in the
family domain and outside the family shows, among the other things, that,
although the adolescents interviewed and their parents seem to use mainly
Italian, the school context examined is an example of contact contexts
where latent resources favoring minority language maintenance and
endangered language revitalization are spontaneously activated by the
social dynamics at play among the interlocutors. Besides, some degree of
meaningful variability in the patterns of language use depends on different
degrees of familiarity or formality with the interlocutors; their bilingual
competence depends on whether they belong to the rural or to the urban
communities; and they all tend to use both languages together more often
with same-age interlocutors, especially from the hometown, although in
different degree, and with different interactional strategies, depending on
their urban or rural origin. These conclusions demonstrate that the use of
Sardinian is sensitive to socio-demographic variables such as degree of
urbanization, age, gender, and social distance, and to interactional
variables such as the degree of familiarity with the interlocutor. Besides,
the analysis of the recorded speech of these students when involved in
spontaneous interaction with their peers in the school labs, shows that CS
and CM are regularly used, apparently, to encode different messages
involving these parameters. Together with other contact features, they
contribute to produce a mixed code that serves as an additional
communicative resource available at the group level, where it contributes
to the interpersonal pattern of language use, and at the individual level,
where it provides with communicative resources in the speakers' repertoire.
While at the community level this mixed code can be loaded with the
minority community values (e.g., identity values, and ethnic or social
membership), at the individual level it is an interactional strategy that
can differently serve the context of situation.


N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of
the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who
disagree with a
message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list