A case study of dialect idealisation and loss in North-Central Pentecost, Vanuatu

Presenter: Dr Cindy Schneider

Discipline of Linguistics

University of New England, Australia

Email: cschnei3@une.edu.au

12-1pm Thursday 30 July 2015

Oorala Lecture Theatre, UNE

All Welcome

Dialect loss is not an uncommon phenomenon, yet it has received relatively little attention from researchers. Schilling-Estes & Wolfram (1999) point out that research in dialect loss takes a back seat to research in language loss. But as Tulloch (2008: 95) points out, speakers of all varieties, including speakers of dialects of indigenous languages, often place a high value on their own dialect because it offers the most efficient way for them to speak to other members of their speech community. They consider dialect a part of their identity; speakers can identify with each other and distinguish themselves from outsiders. Also, conservative dialects are valued for the information that they hold about the linguistic and cultural history not only of that dialect, but of the larger language.

Suru Kavian is the most conservative of three dialects of the Apma language, spoken in the northern section of central Pentecost Island, Vanuatu. It is in a state of decline. Based on recordings, interviews, and observations from my own fieldwork, in this paper I explore the relationship between what people think and say about Suru Kavian, their actual language practices (what people ‘do’), and the possible impact of these factors on the vitality of Suru Kavian.