Endangered Language Initiative: Kate L. Lindsey (Stanford University)

DEC 12, 2018 | 6:30 PM TO 8:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




December 12, 2018: 6:30 PM-8:00 PM




Kate L. Lindsey (Stanford University) presents:

Sociolinguistic variation in Ende: a second wave approach

Variationist studies of indigenous minority languages are an exciting new direction for the field of quantitative sociolinguistics due to the diverse perspectives that underrepresented language communities can provide. My work studying linguistic variation in a small speech community in Papua New Guinea supports the use of the socioeconomic hierarchy as a map of social space and linguistic change. Though major demographic categories (such as age, sex, hometown) do exhibit significant correlations with linguistic variability, locally-meaningful social categories provide a stronger association, helping us to better understand which identity markers linguistic variants may be evoking.

I will be sharing results from my linguistic fieldwork with the Ende community in southern Papua New Guinea. Specifically, I looked at variable /n/-realization word-finally in a corpus of 73 speakers, representing 38% of the local speech community. I found that although age (30-61), sex (male), and hometown offered some insight into which members in the community were realizing /n/ most often, it was the inclusion of a locally-significant factor, whether or not the speaker participated in a prestigious linguistic tradition known as kawa ‘street-preaching’, that illuminated the variation pattern. I will discuss the ways in which my ethnographic research informed my sociolinguistic analysis and my future directions for this work.