The private and the public in documentation and revitalization

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Relatively “private” and relatively “public” aspects of language use, acquisition, and transmission come into question both in linguistic fieldwork and in language revitalization efforts. Sequestered dyadic fieldwork tends to encourage confidentiality, team-based or whole-community documentation may prevent self-censorship slippage, but neither approach resolves acute informed-consent dilemmas. The former approach may encourage the researcher’s local-language acquisition, the latter require the researchers’ use of a dominant-language lingua franca. School-based revitalization transposes intimate-setting minority languages into public settings where solidary dialect usages are replaced by codifications and coinages, perpetuating the isolation of residual speaker communities. Availability of school transmission risks further neglect of home transmission. Long-established closed-community use of a minority language may prevent recruitment of second-language learners. In the more extreme environments of language endangerment and loss, researcher involvement in attempted solutions for revitalization and transmission obstacles has contentiously but arguably importantly followed involvement in description and documentation. Keywords: Varieties of Welsh in the public and private spheres; fieldwork methodology and practice; second language learners in the context of language loss


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