How much do we actually know about Pitkern?

Towards a history of Pitkern research

Seminar presented by Dr Joshua Nash, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, UNE

12pm Thursday 25th June 2015
Oorala Lecture Theatre, UNE
All Welcome

A historiographical summary of research into the Pitkern language of Pitcairn Island is absent from the English philology and creolistics literature. In this historiographical retrospective I identify and reconsider the key works and authors in Pitkern historical linguistics and reflect on the role of history and linguistic apparatus in constructing the (correct and incorrect) scientific, social, and ecological (ir)realities of language(s). This consideration of what the international linguistic community actually knows about the Pitcairn Island language finds its inspiration in a tradition of metatheoretical linguistic enquiry. Its perspectives are driven by relating research to ‘non-research’, i.e. that which is not researched, in order to assess the priorities of linguists and other researchers in terms of their appreciation of their very own research objects. My presentation is of relevance to historical linguistics and to the historiography of (contact) languages. By observing what linguists have not documented, we can learn a lot about their priorities and indeed about the history of metalinguistics and change in the use of linguistic apparatus across time-space.