Accepted Paper:

The role of language ideology in Ryukyuan language revitalization  


Patrick Heinrich (Ca' Foscari University of Venice)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines language ideology of Ryukyuan language revitalization efforts. This ideology is a reaction to ideology oppressive to linguistic diversity. More concretely, it studies efforts of popular alignment to the empowering ideology by applying frame analysis on interviews and attitude surveys.

Paper long abstract:

Language choices are value choices, and the value also derives from ideology. Language revitalization efforts must therefore entail what can be termed "language ideological clarification". Yet, the study of language revitalization treats issues of language ideological clarification rather lightly. Without challenging dominant ideologies towards languages facing extinction, these languages cannot be maintained. The case studied here is that of the Ryukyuan languages, six endangered languages spoken in the southwest of the Japanese Archipelago.

Every ideology has two aspects. The first is empowering. However, empowerment through ideology can only be comprehensively understood when taking the oppressive ideology into account which makes empowerment necessary or desirable. This is the second aspect. This paper studies language ideology which has been oppressive of Ryukyuan language vitality and maintenance and the emancipative or empowering ideology put forth as a reaction in the past two decades.

Language ideology oppressing language diversity in Japan has been broadly studied in the past years and this paper will simply summarize these results as they relate to empowering ideology. In studying empowering language ideology in favor of Ryukyuan language maintenance and revitalization, results of questionnaire surveys,

Participant observation and interviews will be discussed. These will be analyzed by using concepts of frame analysis, and here in particular frame alignment. This includes, in more concrete terms, processes of "what kinds of problems are identified", the "suggested solutions to these problems" and "how others are sought to be mobilized" in taking similar views and interests towards these problems and their proposed solution.

Panel P095
Exploring and theorizing the working of language and power in multilingual Japan (CLOSED - 6)