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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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The Cost of Language Mobilization: Wangkatha Language Ideologies and Native Title*

The Cost of Language Mobilization: Wangkatha Language Ideologies and Native Title*

(p.263) 13 The Cost of Language Mobilization: Wangkatha Language Ideologies and Native Title*
Endangered Languages

Jessica Boynton

British Academy

This chapter investigates the nature of ideological transformation among Wangkatha language consultants in Western Australia, highlighted in the wake of Native Title legislation designed to determine the veracity of Aboriginal claims to land rights. It identifies a schism between the actual and perceived benefits of successful claims, and explores the role of language as it is used by expert witnesses and community members. On-the-ground perceptions about how linguistic practices may be interpreted by a land claim judge influence practice and, potentially, ideology, with a transition from a dialect mesh to an ideologically bounded mosaic, from the prestige of language ownership to the power of language proficiency, and from extreme individual multilingualism to language guardianship. Proficiency in an unchanged, well-bounded traditional language is simultaneously venerated and guarded while traditional ideologies about linguistic identity are overshadowed, at least in the political and legal context.

Keywords:   language ideology, Native Title, language endangerment, Wangkatha, Australian Aboriginal languages, Western Australia

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