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Friday, October 11 • 9:45am - 10:10am
Povilonis & Guy: Deconstructing ‘standard’ in a minority language: Variation in Chanka Quechua

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Deconstructing ‘standard’ in a minority language: Variation in Chanka Quechua

​Formal public spheres in Peru require the majority language (Spanish). This essentially renders all registers of Quechua nonstandard. Quechua communities thus lack prescriptive norms from the widely accepted standards that guide stylistic variation in majority languages. In fact, the lack of a universally familiar Quechua standard means that variation ideologies are often independent of it. This paper compares uvular deletion rates in two Chanka Quechua styles across four urban and rural communities. Casual sociolinguistic interviews and formal audiovisual repetition tasks were recorded with 64 speakers. Casually, urbanites exhibit fewer uvulars than rural dwellers. Consciously, both groups have high rates of uvulars: rirqanki ‘I went’ over riranki (for example). While Quechua-literate urban speakers value uvular-full “pure” Chanka, from Ministry of Education orthography, rural dwellers’ authenticity—essentially non-conscious orthographical adherence—does not afford them higher status. Compared to majority languages, education has reverse effects: idealized, pure Chanka is associated with socially-subordinate speakers.

Session abstract: What’s so standard about standards?
Standard language ideology (SLI) is a topic ripe for new cross-cultural comparisons, as notions of standard and prestige have been central to sociolinguistic theorizing (Meyerhoff 2019). Cheshire observes that ‘variationists have worked almost exclusively on languages that have been heavily standardized, so the potential influence of [SLI] on the selection of variables […] has been high’ (2005:87). Further, historically atypical standardized national languages of urban elites in modern stratified societies have entrenched hierarchical views of variation, that are grounded in a functional model and asymmetric power relations (e.g. Rickford 1986). These biases should be addressed if we are to build sociolinguistic universals (Guy & Adli 2019). This session continues the discussion by examining underrepresented communities where SLI is realized in different ways, or not at all. Six original research papers will explore this topic around the world, and a discussant presentation will contextualize the panel’s observations.​​​


Natalie Povilonis

New York University

Gregory Guy

New York University

Friday October 11, 2019 9:45am - 10:10am PDT
EMU Gumwood
  S: What's so standard about standards?