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Grant number: FT-58327-10

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FT-58327-10

Emily McEwan-Fujita
University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA 15260-6133)

Language Revitalization and Neoliberalism: Language Workers and Economic Ideologies of Gaelic in Scotland

This project investigates the contradictory ways that neoliberalism shapes the revitalization of Gaelic, a minority language in Scotland. Neoliberalism facilitates the formation of a new ethnolinguistically self-identified Gaelic-speaking middle class, but it impedes the sociolinguistic goal of transmitting Gaelic to future generations. Gaelic has been undergoing language shift in Scotland since 1200 CE: it is gradually being replaced by English in its former locations and contexts of use. This endangered language is now spoken by about 50,000 people. In the 1980s-90s native Gaelic-English bilinguals and supporters with experience in English-speaking industry and business coalesced around the agenda of economically developing Gaelic in Thatcher's Britain. They successfully garnered public funding that created new middle-class jobs requiring Gaelic, but declining numbers of speakers show that labor and commerce alone cannot produce the new speakers and attitudes needed to save Gaelic.

Project fields:
Anthropology

Program:
Summer Stipends

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2010 – 10/31/2010