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Friday, October 11 • 11:20am - 11:45am
Barth: The right way to talk about kin in Matukar Panau

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The right way to talk about kin in Matukar Panau

​Matukar Panau (Oceanic, Papua New Guinea), spoken by about 300 people, shows lexical variation in kinship term expression with concomitant morphological variation in the possession of kinship terms. Three strategies are used: direct possession of traditional kinship terms, indirect possession of replacement kinship terms, and direct and indirect (doubled) possession of older kinship terms. The later pattern has been noted to ‘sound wrong’ by speakers, but is used marginally by many different speakers. A quantitative analysis shows many of the well-respected, and mostly female, ‘language keepers’ use the innovative indirect pattern most often. These women hold linguistic and household power in the community, but lack financial and community-wide political power. I discuss how language keepers can be the leaders for innovation when there is not a strong notion of standard in place.

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.​​​

Speakers
DB

Danielle Barth

The Australian National University


Friday October 11, 2019 11:20am - 11:45am
EMU Gumwood


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