Caribbean Languages and Caribbean Linguistics

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Title: Caribbean Languages and Caribbean Linguistics
Author: Ferreira, Jo-Anne S.
Abstract: Of the 1,000 plus languages of the Americas, 70 are in use across the 29 territories of the Caribbean, including both the archipelago and continental rimlands (Allsopp 1996). Linguistic situations of the Caribbean are complex, with language users managing an interface between and among a variety of heritage languages, each with its own social status, and some with both national and official status. Linguistic groupings include indigenous Amerindian languages, European languages, creole languages, sign languages (indigenous and foreign), and immigrant languages of various origins, including religious languages. With regard to European languages and creole languages, the relationships are varied, intense and often appear to be problematic, especially where they meet in the arena of formal education. In addition to the complexity of the living languages, their varieties and the often overlapping communities of practice to which their users (speakers and signers) belong, there are a number of heritage languages in various stages of obsolescence. Some are almost totally extinct, and some moribund, with few, if any, young native language users. Caribbean(ist) linguists have been engaged in the analysis and documentation of these languages and language situations for several decades, many pioneering work in hitherto neglected areas. These linguistics studies have an immediate application to formal education, language and language education policies, sustainable and ongoing language and culture development, communication, issues of identity, heritage and ethnicity, nation-building, linguistic rights and discrimination and language revitalisation. To understand human language as an integral and inseparable part of human culture is to begin to understand human and issues of social and cultural identity. This is the work of linguists in the Caribbean and beyond.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2139/41235
Date: 2012


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