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Language Diversity in Amdo: Changes and Challenges

Language Diversity in Amdo: Changes and Challenges

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Call for contributions : Language Diversity in Amdo: Changes and Challenges. Mapping Amdo Series

The Amdo region is an area of language contact and extreme linguistic diversity: across centuries Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolic, and Turkic languages have developed similar features, and their communities have come to share similar lifestyles and cultural practices. In this context of multidirectional contact, Amdo Tibetan has historically served as a major lingua franca and motivator of linguistic convergence (Dwyer, 1995; Slater, 2003; Janhunen, 2007). And, Tibetan communities played a role influencing the area’s lifecycles practices, folklore, and architecture (Dwyer, 2013).
However, recent socioeconomic changes have reformulated these processes of multidirectional change. In the last decades, Amdo’s urban centres and rural areas have been increasingly involved in the Chinese state’s economic and social development projects. Due to new opportunities (and imperatives) to participate in mainstream education and market labor, Standard Chinese has affirmed itself in Amdo as the language of modernity and social mobility. This linguistic hierarchy can be summarized as distinguishing the high status at the national level (i.e. Standard Chinese); languages officially recognized in the region and taught at schools in autonomous prefectures (i.e. Tibetan); endangered languages officially recognized but practically not supported by the State (i.e. Salar and Monguor); and languages not officially recognized (i.e. Wutun) (Dwyer, 1998).
Currently, several languages in Amdo are endangered (Roche and Suzuki, 2018), Tibetan is the language of cultural identification for a range of ethnolinguistic communities including the Baonan and Wutun, and bilingualism is becoming a common phenomenon. So far, new state policies of “bilingual education” that, in reality, promote Standard Chinese have spared minority autonomous areas. However, from time to time officials criticize a low mastery of the national language and call for increasing the role of Chinese in education even in autonomous prefectures and counties (Dak Lhagyal, 2019). Besides the local dynamics of language interactions, Amdo communities are in contact with non-local languages. Tibetan and Tibetanized communities read and listen to different varieties of Tibetan, Hui and Salar communities take classes in Arabic, and English is, together with Standard Chinese, a language that offers more possibilities for socioeconomic opportunities.
This book will explore the complex language dynamics that shape Amdo’s internal ethnolinguistic diversity. It takes into account patterns of power, language contact, and mobility that crosscut the local and global levels. Because language change influences identity, it is necessary to document multiple vectors of sociolinguistic transformation. When examining the intersections between changing languages and identities, we ask: How are language and literacy practices used to negotiate inheritance and identity? How do new educational policies and choices, prestige, and language contact shape the structure and use of the languages? And, in whatways can languages with lower status survive in the linguistic repertoire of their speakers?
The proposed publication gathers multidisciplinary contributions from as linguistics, linguistic anthropology, language policy, education, and literature. We welcome contributions that address linguistic diversity through an ethnographic consideration of local perspectives on language, history, and culture. The editors will choose contributions based on the volume theme, in addition to an ethical commitment to centering local representations of language and identity in the region.

Détails pratiques de la publication :
Deadline (maximum 500words) : 31 january2021
Contact : Giulia Cabras (cabras@orient.cas.cz) and Shannon Ward (shannon.ward@ubc.ca).