Linguistic and Cultural Shifts of Aranadan Tribe in Kerala

Author: Sam Robert (Department of Linguistics, University of Kerala)
Speaker: Sam Robert
Topic: Language minorities and majorities
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


Language and cultural shifts are the major causes of endangerment of any community in the world, that starts from minor switching of practices and verbal repertoire that ends with a whole change of community and finally losses its own identity. Language shift usually takes place in a bilingual or multilingual speech community. It is a social phenomenon, whereby one language replaces another in a given society due to underlying changes in the composition and aspirations of the society, which goes from speaking the old to the new language. By definition, it is not a structural change caused by the dynamics of the old language as a system. The new language is adopted as a result of contact with another language community especially the regional language. The term language shift excludes language change which can be seen as an evolution, the transition from older to newer forms of the same language.

The contact between two or more cultures often leads to different sociological processes such as acculturation, cultural change, cultural genocide, and cultural shift. Cultural shift happens when a community gives up its own socio-cultural practices like customs, rituals and traditional beliefs and characterized by changes in cultural symbols, rules of behavior, social organizations, or value systems etc. It differs from the process of cultural change in which a community’s culture can be evolved itself. Shifts may take place at the level of an individual speaker who gradually forgets or shifts to another language later it spreads to an entire community. This phenomenon can be seen among the Aranadans, a primitive tribal community found mainly in Malappuram district and in other northern districts Kasargode and Kannur of Kerala because of their irreverence towards the preservation of their own language and culture. The socio-ecological, psychological and educational factors impact their language and cultural shifts. This paper illustrates and clarifies the reasons for the language and cultural shifts of Aranadan tribal community.

Keywords: Linguistic Shift, Cultural Shift, Aranadan Tribe, Endangerment