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Кетский проект: годовой цикл

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Selkup, Ket, and Evenki speakers’
ideas of the language and languages
(based on fieldwork experience)
Olga Kazakevich
Folk Linguistics, SPb, 20.11.2012
The paper presents some outcomes of
the fieldwork done in 43 settlements with
autochthonous popuations of Western
and Central Siberia in 2001-2012.
The fieldwork was a part of language
documentation projects being realized at the
Laboratory for Computational Lexicography,
Research Computer Centre, Lomonosov
Moscow State University
( and supported
by Russian Foundation for Basic Researches,
Russian Foundation for the Humanities and
Yamalo-Nenets Centre for Arctic Researches.
Regions of our fieldwork
Krasnoselkup and Pur districts of YamaloNenets autonomous area;
Turukhansk and Yeniseisk districts,
Evenki and Taimyr municipal districts of
Krasnoyarsk territory;
Ket and Kargasok districts of Tomsk
Linguistic situation in the surveyed local
In all the settlements, including those where
the autochthonous population represent the
overwhelming majority and where people still
keep traditional way of life, the main means
of communication both at home and in the
community life is Russian.
Children able to speak their ethnic language
are scares.
Though the ancestral language is regarded as
desirable for children by the majority of
parents, it is Russian that is considered
absolutely obligatory
The situation of language shift is today
quite common for autochthonous
communities of Siberia. Meanwhile, each
surveyed settlement gives a new
fragment and quite often a new
dimension of the linguistic situation in the
Selkup, Ket and Evenki speakers’ ideas of
1) local varieties of their ethnic languages,
2) comparative complexity and aesthetic
hierarchy of the vernaculars used in each
particular local community,
3) multilingualism,
4) code-switching and code-mixing,
5) the relation of language and ethnic
6) language functions,
7) mother tongue classes at local schools.
Local varieties of languages
Practically all speakers of Selkup, Ket and
Evenki are aware of local differentiation of
their ethnic language.
Quite often people regard the local variety of
their own as pure and correct and other
varieties as spoilt. Sometimes the
�incorrectness’ of the speech of neighbouring
communities is explained as a result of
linguistic contacts.
Comparative complexity and aesthetic
hierarchy of the vernaculars spoken in the
Complexity: Ket > Selkup > Evenki
Aesthetics: Selkup > Ket
Multilingualism is respected:
“Those who speak two languages are bright,
they have a better understanding of life (their
ears are clear)”.
At the same time, the prejudice that to
learn the language of the majority, which
gives access to education, professional
career and prosperity, is only possible
abandoning the ancestral language is
still wide-spread both inside and outside
ethnic minority groups, it is wide-spread
in different social strata including
educational authorities.
Code-switching is widely spread. There is
practically no conversation in autochthonous
languages without Russian intrusions. People
check it themselves.:“Now we speak a sort of
a mixed language: we say something in our
language and then something in Russian, we
chose what is more comfortable for us.
Language and ethnic identity
“I am Selkup | Ket | Evenki, so my mother
toungue is Selkup | Ket | Evenki though I
cannot speak it”
“I speak only Russian, so I am Russian, what
else can I be”.
Language functions
Keeping secrets: ethnic language is valued by
their speakers as a means of secret
Preserving people’s history:
“Let my word go farther to my great
grandchildren, may it remain after I am gone
to the ancestors”
Mother tongue classes at local schools
The majority of our respondents want their
ethnic language to be taught to the children
at school , but practically no one is pleased
with the way it is being done now. They
don’t like the language variety of the
textbooks (“the language of the text books
is deadt”.) People would prefer their local
variety to be taught.”
Thank you!
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