The demise and attempted revival of Uchumataqu (Uru)

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In this paper I analyze in detail the processes that have led to the virtual disappearance of Uchumataqu, an Uru language of the Bolivian <i>altiplano</i>. Five possible causes of the decay of the language are explored: (a) urban migration; (b) socio-economic restructuring and ethnic reorientation; (c) population decrease; and (d) demographic growth and increasing exogamy with neighbouring Aymara groups; (e) a fragile ecology. Using data from ethnographic research, oral history, analysis of earlier published and unpublished sources, and parish registers, I conclude that the interaction of several of these factors combined was probably responsible for Uchumataqu&#8217;s demise, and in the final part of the paper I contrast the fate of Uchumataqu with that of several other seriously endangered languages in Bolivia, and review current attempts to revive the language and their sociolingusitic embedding. Keywords: Revival of endangered languages in Bolivia; Uru; Aymara; actor-centered perspective; language ecology


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