Don Kulick's book is an anthropological study of language and cultural change among a small group of people living in the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea. He examines why the villagers of Gapun are abandoning their vernacular in favor of Tok Pisin, the most widely spoken language in Papua New Guinea, despite their attachment to their own language as a source of identity and as a tie to their lands. He draws on an examination of village language socialization process and on Marshall Sahlins's ideas about structure and event.
Introduction: Papua New Guinea and the study of language shift; 1. Villagers and their village; 2. Language and talk in the village; 3. Having 'hed'; 4. Showing 'save'; 5. Preparing the change; 6. Becoming monolingual; 7. Contextualizing the self; Conclusion: the process of language shift; Appendix: On being a ghost.
"An excellent guide to the cultural logic and sociopolitical contradictions of language loss." Language
"Kulick displays formidable talents as both ethnographer and linguistic investigator." Anthropological Linguistics