Young speakers of Mexican indigenous languages: contesting language ideologies and policies

Brandi, LT ORCID: 0000-0002-6381-0022
(2018) Young speakers of Mexican indigenous languages: contesting language ideologies and policies. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, University of Liverpool.

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Abstract Young speakers of Mexican indigenous languages: contesting language ideologies and policies In Mexico, the institutionalisation of language rights is reconfiguring discourses of indigeneity. Cultural and linguistic diversity are increasingly reframed as national patrimony, and generic notions of indigeneity firmly embedded into national identity. While such discourses coincide with global concern at language endangerment, they are better contextualised as policy responses to social unrest which, from the late 20th century onwards, has been effective in instrumentalising linguistic and cultural identity as a mobilising factor. This study is set in the highlands of central Mexico, in a stronghold of indigenous Totonac language and culture, and moreover, with a unique and recent history of social and cultural mobilisation. The study deconstructs prevailing language ideologies and policies, and analyses how local language management, especially in education, healthcare and policing, is perceived by young (16-25) bilingual speakers of Totonac and Spanish. The objective is to unpack conditions and processes which function in the valorisation of a linguistic culture, and more importantly, in its social and linguistic well-being or conversely, its minoritisation. Chapter 1 provides theoretical contextualisation, discussing research objectives, key informative concepts such as language valorisation and minoritisation, and arguing that buen vivir, or holistic sociolinguistic well-being, best serves as barometer and objective of language policy. Chapter 2 analyses the post-independence socio-linguistic environment in Mexico, reviews research on Totonac language and culture, and constructs a recent social history of Huehuetla/Kgoyom. This focuses on the agency of the Organización Independiente Totonaca, which, this thesis argues, has definitively shaped local sociolinguistic context. Methodology and decolonising research praxis are discussed in Chapter 3, alongside this study’s community engagement. The greater part of the thesis is dedicated to analysis of findings (in Chapter 4), allowing space for reflection on the theorisation of local, experiential experts. After extrapolating the implications of this analysis for wider theory and considering application to language policy (Chapter 5), the thesis then concludes (Chapter 6) by reviewing how ideologies and policies of language are informed by the expertise of young bicultural speakers of Totonac and Mexican indigenous languages. A distinctive feature of this study is its simultaneous community engagement project, which has published the first mainstream children’s text in Kgoyom Totonac. The talking storybook (Tsikan chu Nipxi’ / La Viejita y la Calabaza / Buri and the Marrow) combines text and audio in Totonac, Spanish and English, and offers a resource for local literacy and language maintenance, and exposure for an understudied language. It was produced in collaboration with the only independent, Totonac-led high school Colegio Paulo Freire, Totonac language maintenance caucus Xtachuwin Kinkachikinkan Xa Akgtutu Nakú and UK-based children’s publishers Mantra Lingua.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy)
Uncontrolled Keywords: minoritisation, linguicism, Mexico, indigenous linguistic cultures, Tutunaku, Totonac, Totonaco, Organización Independiente Totonaca, OIT, Huehuetla, Puebla, Kgoyom, Xtachuwin Kinkachikinkan Xa Akgtutu Nakú, Colegio Paulo Freire, CESIK, Tsikan chu Nipxi’, language valorisation, buen vivir, IEV, Indicators of Ethnolinguistic Vitality, Mexican sociolinguistics, Endangered Languages, Language Maintenance, Decolonising praxis, impact, reciprocity
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Histories, Languages and Cultures
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2019 14:45
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 01:11
DOI: 10.17638/03029056