Sociolinguistics Lunch: William Foley (University of Sydney)

MAR 06, 2020 | 2:00 PM TO 4:00 PM



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue




March 06, 2020: 2:00 PM-4:00 PM




William Foley (University of Sydney) presents a talk in Sociolinguistics. 

Language Ideology and Pidginization
in New Guinea


Theorizing about the sociocultural foundations of the processes of pidginization has mainly be molded by taking the plantation conditions that obtained in the formation of the pidgins and creoles of the Caribbean and the Indian and Pacific oceans as the prototypical situation. This seminar will look at a very different case: the structure and use of an indigenous pidgin that arose in the trading relations between villages speaking the Yimas language of the Sepik region of New Guinea and neighboring villages speaking unrelated languages. While there were no less than three of these pidgin languages, a remarkable fact given a total population of around 200 inhabitants in Yimas village, I will focus on one here: the Yimas-Arafundi Pidgin. Unlike general attitudes toward pidgins and creoles elsewhere, Yimas-based pidgins have relatively high cultural capital and symbolic value, and I will trace this to local ideological beliefs about language and personhood. In addition, the peculiar basis of the local trading arrangements here, with Yimas speakers providing the high value protein foods and woven goods and Arafundi lower value carbohydrate foods, yields the typical superstrate/substrate dichotomy so familiar in pidginization studies, but without the political dominance usually found elsewhere, an unthinkable social outcome, again given local ideological beliefs.