What does it mean to lose or risk losing your language? What is the value of language, to speakers, to experts like anthropologists, to humanity more broadly? This course explores answers to these questions through thinking about language as a cultural practice and object, a political activity and topic, and something that is deeply entwined with speakers’ senses of self. We will consider case studies from the US immigrant experience as well as cases of language endangerment and loss around the globe. To analyze these issues more immediately, students will do a research project about a language in Brooklyn, which will involve mapping ethnographic research, photographic, interviews, and other evidence to tell a story about a particular language’s current vitality.
Language Loss: Culture, Politics, and Self
Prof. Jillian R. Cavanaugh
Office: James 3307
Phone: (718)951-5000 ex.3203
Office hours: Wednesday 2:15-4 , OR by appointment