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Endangered LanguagesBeliefs and Ideologies in Language Documentation and Revitalization$
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Peter K. Austin and Julia Sallabank

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265765

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265765.001.0001

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What Are We Trying to Preserve? Diversity, Change, and Ideology at the Edge of the Cameroonian Grassfields*

What Are We Trying to Preserve? Diversity, Change, and Ideology at the Edge of the Cameroonian Grassfields*

Chapter:
(p.229) 12 What Are We Trying to Preserve? Diversity, Change, and Ideology at the Edge of the Cameroonian Grassfields*
Source:
Endangered Languages
Author(s):

Pierpaolo Di Carlo

Jeff Good

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265765.003.0012

Losses associated with language endangerment need not be restricted to individual language systems but can also involve the disappearance of distinctive language ecologies. This chapter explores the language dynamics of the Lower Fungom region of Northwest Cameroon, which offers an extreme case of linguistic diversity, from an areal and ethnographically informed perspective. Key aspects of local language ideologies are explored in detail, and it is argued that in this area languages symbolize relatively ephemeral political formations and, hence, should not be taken as reflections of deeply rooted historical identities. This conclusion has significance both regarding how research projects in the area should be structured as well as for what it might mean to ‘preserve’ the languages of a region that historically appears to have been characterized by frequent language loss and emergence, conditioned by changes in territorial and political configurations.

Keywords:   language endangerment, language ideologies, comparative linguistics, Bantu, Cameroon Grassfields

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