Does language ideology help language preservation? Case of A Fala de Xálima (Cáceres, Spain)

Authors: Bartosz Dondelewski (Pedagogical University of Krakow, Poland)
Speakers: Bartosz Dondelewski
Topic: Language Ideologies
COMELA 2021 General Session


The object of this paper is A Fala de Xálima geolect, belonging to the Galician-Portuguese language family. It is spoken by approx. 5000 (bilingual) people who live at the Spanish-Portuguese border (Costas González, 2013). It is a minoritized geolect hardly recognized by the state, without any overt signs of sociolinguistic prestige (e.g. official orthography) with some disappearing vernacular forms and a diminishing number of young natives (Ramallo, 2011). We focus on a particular group of A Fala speakers, determined as a community of practice (Rampton, 2009; Meyerhoff&Strycharz, 2013). The practice which constitutes the community is the “common work for the preservation of A Fala”. Its members have the social prestige and the abilities to decide about the future of their language. In this paper, informed by the ontological-epistemological principles of the socio-cultural linguistics (Bucholtz&Hall, 2004, 2010) we look into some indexical interactional and essentialist orientations which allow to grasp the relation between the observed practice and the underlying language ideology. We base our analysis on theory of language ideology of Irvine&Gal (2000) and works concerning sociocultural beliefs about language in indexical iconizations (Carr, 2011; Silverstein, 2003). The empirical material is constituted by anthropological observations and 10-hour long semi-directed, transcribed interviews with members of the aforementioned community of practice conducted in situ by the author and regarding such subjects as language preservation and promotion or stances toward researchers interested in A Fala or other linguistic minorities of Spain.

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Keywords: A Fala de Xálima, language ideology, socio-cultural linguistics