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Creating Orthographies for Endangered Languages


Mari C. Jones, Damien Mooney, Christopher Moseley, Mansueto Casquite, Catherine Young, Margarita Valdovinos, Kathleen D. Sackett, Sheena Shah, Matthias Brenzinger, Christine Schreyer, Kerry Hull, Avelino Corral Esteban, Rosangela Lai, Steve Hewitt, Julia Sallabank, Yan Marquis, D. Viktor Leggio, Yaron Matras, Bénédicte Pivot, Michel Bert, Katherine McDonald, Nicholas Zair
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  • Date Published: August 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107148352

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About the Authors
  • Creating an orthography is often seen as a key component of language revitalisation. Encoding an endangered variety can enhance its status and prestige. In speech communities that are fragmented dialectally or geographically, a common writing system may help create a sense of unified identity, or help keep a language alive by facilitating teaching and learning. Despite clear advantages, creating an orthography for an endangered language can also bring challenges, and this volume debates the following critical questions: whose task should this be - that of the linguist or the speech community? Should an orthography be maximally distanciated from that of the language of wider communication for ideological reasons, or should its main principles coincide for reasons of learnability? Which local variety should be selected as the basis of a common script? Is a multilectal script preferable to a standardised orthography? And can creating an orthography create problems for existing native speakers?

    • Provides new perspectives on creating orthographies in a variety of contextually different situations
    • The only volume of its kind that focuses explicitly on orthography development for endangered languages
    • Gives insight into orthography development being implemented not only by professional linguists but also by community members who are trying to maintain their native language
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'These case studies from multiple continents provide an illuminating view into the world of endangered languages and the very specific challenges of providing practical orthographies for them. The wide variety of sociopolitical situations and historical backgrounds is fascinating, especially balanced against the fact that some issues arise quite commonly across languages.' Michael Cahill, Orthography Services Coordinator, SIL International

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107148352
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.65kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction Mari C. Jones and Damien Mooney
    2. Who owns vernacular literacy? Assessing the sustainability of written vernaculars Christopher Moseley
    3. Hearing local voices: creating local content participatory approaches in orthography development for non-dominant language communities Mansueto Casquite and Catherine Young
    4. Orthographies 'in the making': the dynamic construction of community-based writing systems among the Náayeru of north-western Mexico Margarita Valdovinos
    5. Community-driven goal centred orthography development: a Tsakhur case study Kathleen D. Sackett
    6. Writing for speaking: the N|uu orthography Sheena Shah and Matthias Brenzinger
    7. Reflections on the Kala Biŋatuwã, a three-year-old alphabet, from Papua New Guinea Christine Schreyer
    8. When letters represent more than sounds: ideology vs practicality in the development of a standard orthography for Ch'orti' Mayan Kerry Hull
    9. The difficult task of finding a standard writing system for the Sioux languages Avelino Corral Esteban
    10. Orthography development in Sardinia: the case of Limba Sarda Comuna Rosangela Lai
    11. Breton orthographies: an increasingly awkward fit Steve Hewitt
    12. Spelling trouble: ideologies and practices in Giernesiei / Dgernesiais / Guernesiais / Guernésiais / Djernezié. . . Julia Sallabank and Yan Marquis
    13. Orthography development on the Internet: Romani on YouTube D. Viktor Leggio and Yaron Matras
    14. Is orthography creation unavoidable for postvernacular languages? Case studies of Rama and Francoprovençal revitalization Bénédicte Pivot and Michel Bert
    15. Changing script in a threatened language: reactions to Romanization at Bantia in the first century BC Katherine McDonald and Nicholas Zair.

  • Editors

    Mari C. Jones, University of Cambridge
    Mari C. Jones has published extensively on language death theory and dialectology, principally in relation to Insular and Continental Norman. Major research monographs include Jersey Norman French: A Linguistic Study of an Obsolescent Dialect (2001), The Guernsey Norman French Translations of Thomas Martin: A Linguistic Study of an Unpublished Archive (2008) and Variation and Change in Continental and Insular Norman: A Study of Superstrate Influence (2015). Her co-authored textbook, Exploring Language Change (with Ishtla Singh, 2005), also engages with many aspects of language variation and change. Dr Jones has experience of editing several volumes including Language Change: The Interplay of Internal, External and Extra-Linguistic Factors (with Edith Esch, 2002), The French Language and Questions of Identity (with Wendy Ayres-Bennett, 2007), Les Langues Normandes: Pluralité, Normes, Représentations (2009) and Language and Social Structure in Urban France (with David Hornsby, 2013). She is editor of Keeping Languages Alive (with Sarah Ogilvie, Cambridge, 2013), Endangered Languages and New Technologies (Cambridge, 2014) and Policy and Planning for Endangered Languages (Cambridge, 2015).

    Damien Mooney, University of Bristol
    Damien Mooney's research focuses on contact induced transfer in bilingual speech, language death theory, and the role of language and dialect contact in the loss or retention of pronunciation and grammatical features in regional varieties of French and the regional languages of France. His major publications include the monograph Southern Regional French: A Linguistic Analysis of Language and Dialect Contact (2016).


    Mari C. Jones, Damien Mooney, Christopher Moseley, Mansueto Casquite, Catherine Young, Margarita Valdovinos, Kathleen D. Sackett, Sheena Shah, Matthias Brenzinger, Christine Schreyer, Kerry Hull, Avelino Corral Esteban, Rosangela Lai, Steve Hewitt, Julia Sallabank, Yan Marquis, D. Viktor Leggio, Yaron Matras, Bénédicte Pivot, Michel Bert, Katherine McDonald, Nicholas Zair

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