A unique study of the relationship between language - and the erosion of a language - and cultural identity in heritage-language communities.
Though linguists estimate that hundreds of languages are in danger of extinction, everyday use of Kwak'wala, an indigenous language spoken in British Columbia, reveals that it has been strategically maintained even among young speakers as a marker of cultural identity. Anne Marie Goodfellow explores the relationship between language, culture, and identity through a case study of the current use of Kwak'wala in two communities, Quatsino and Kingcome Inlet.
Talking in Context demonstrates the importance of cultural contact on the structure of languages and addresses the socio-cultural aspects of indigenous language use in the modern world. Goodfellow's analysis of linguistic data from three generations of Kwak'wala speakers shows that English has greatly influenced grammar and phonology. Even though Kwak'wala is being replaced by English as the language of communication, Goodfellow found that speakers with varying degrees of fluency use the native language tactically to signal Kwak'wala identity and for ceremony.
Talking in Context shows the ways in which indigenous languages may one day be restored to broader uses in the communities to which they are significant.