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Grant number: FA-50519-04

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FA-50519-04

Paul Brian Garrett
Temple University (Philadelphia, PA 19122-6003)

Behind Every Mountain: Cultural and Ideological Dynamics of Language Shift in St. Lucia

In the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, a process of rapid language shift from Kweyol (an Afro-French creole) to a non-standard English vernacular is currently underway. The proposed project examines this case of language shift within the framework of the language socialization research paradigm, drawing on a large corpus of ethnographically transcribed and annotated audio-video recordings, historical records and contemporary texts, and other materials collected during fieldwork in 1996-97. Changing communicative practices at the local level (particularly between adults and children) in a rural village are examined in relation to broader historical, social, cultural, and politico-economic transformations that have affected St. Lucia and other Caribbean creole societies and cultures. Special attention is given to changes and continuities in St. Lucians' ideologies of language, as manifested in everyday language use as well as in the activities of a broad-based pro-Kweyol movement whose concerted efforts to celebrate and "preserve" Kweyol, paradoxically, have done little if anything to reverse the ongoing process of language shift. Micro and macro levels of analysis are integrated by means of a synthesis of practice theory with a political economy of language perspective, the latter strongly informed by recent work on ideologies of language. The goal is to produce a comprehensive but fine-grained ethnographic account of linguistic and social change in progress, and to explore the theoretical and practical implications of the St. Lucian case for other contemporary cases of language shift worldwide.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Anthropology

Program:
Fellowships for University Teachers

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$24,000 (approved)
$24,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2004 – 8/31/2004