Title

Modern Vernacular Garifuna Language: The Struggle for Survival in the 21st Century

Subject Area

Hispanic Linguistics

Abstract

After the violent series of events that occur to create one of the New World’s more interesting linguistic and cultural phenomena, the Garifuna still engage in an active and daily struggle to keep their language alive. In many situations when a language is dying, the young adults are the ones who have put aside their ancestral language. In the case of the Garifuna, it seems that 21st century social media has enabled them to reach out to Garifunas world-wide and demonstrate linguistic pride. Still, some Garifuna continue to believe that the pathway to social acceptance is by denying their heritage, since it is continues to be stigmatized in the locations with the most speakers. This presentation gives a linguistic snapshot of one Garifuna village in Livingston, Guatemala. Included are my findings with interviews of hundreds of Garifuna on their feelings towards their language, as well as interviews with non-Garifuna Guatemalans in the capital, and how they feel about the Garifuna and their language. Also discussed are the most current language planning developments and problems.

Brief Bio Note

Dr. Ocasio is an Assistant Professor of Spanish and TESOL at Valdosta State University, where she is also the Campus Director of Second Life (virtual environments). As part of her dissertation project in 2010, Dr. Ocasio lived in Guatemala to document the living linguistic practices of the Garifuna. The dissertation was the first detailed linguistic history of the Garifuna language.

Keywords

Garifuna, Language planning, Guatemala, Dying languages

Location

Room 218

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-27-2015 9:00 AM

End Date

3-27-2015 10:15 AM

Embargo

5-23-2017

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Mar 27th, 9:00 AM Mar 27th, 10:15 AM

Modern Vernacular Garifuna Language: The Struggle for Survival in the 21st Century

Room 218

After the violent series of events that occur to create one of the New World’s more interesting linguistic and cultural phenomena, the Garifuna still engage in an active and daily struggle to keep their language alive. In many situations when a language is dying, the young adults are the ones who have put aside their ancestral language. In the case of the Garifuna, it seems that 21st century social media has enabled them to reach out to Garifunas world-wide and demonstrate linguistic pride. Still, some Garifuna continue to believe that the pathway to social acceptance is by denying their heritage, since it is continues to be stigmatized in the locations with the most speakers. This presentation gives a linguistic snapshot of one Garifuna village in Livingston, Guatemala. Included are my findings with interviews of hundreds of Garifuna on their feelings towards their language, as well as interviews with non-Garifuna Guatemalans in the capital, and how they feel about the Garifuna and their language. Also discussed are the most current language planning developments and problems.