Language Ideology and Language Preservation. Case of A Fala de Xálima (Cáceres, Spain)

Author Information

Bartosz Dondelewski,
Pedagogical University of Krakow, Poland

DOI: 10.47298/comela22.6-1
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in the Mediterranean and Europe 2022


The object of this paper is a discussion of the A Fala de Xálima geolect, belonging to the Galician-Portuguese language family. The language is spoken by approximately 5000 (bilingual) people who live at the Spanish-Portuguese border (Costas González 2013). It is a minoritized geolect barely recognized by the state, without any overt signs of sociolinguistic prestige (e.g., official orthography) and with some disappearing vernacular forms and a diminishing number of young natives (Ramallo 2011).

I focus on a particular group of A Fala speakers, framed as a community of practice (Rampton 2009; Meyerhoff and Strycharz 2013). The practice which significantly contributes to the community is the common work for the preservation of A Fala. Its members have the social prestige and the abilities to decide on the future of their language.

In this paper, informed by the ontological-epistemological principles of socio-cultural linguistics (Bucholtz and Hall 2004 2010), I look into some indexical interactional and essentialist orientations which assist in the grasping of the relation between an observed practice and an underlying language ideology. I ground my analysis in a theory of language ideology, and hence work by Irvine and Gal (2000), and in work concerning sociocultural beliefs of language in indexical iconizations (Carr 2011; Silverstein 2003).

The empirical material I present comprises anthropological observations and a 10-hour long semi-directed, transcribed set of interviews with members of the A Fala language community of practice, conducted in situ by myself. In the interviews, we discussed such issues as language preservation and promotion, as well as stance toward researchers interested in the A Fala language and other linguistic minorities in Spain.

Keywords: A Fala de Xálima, language ideology, socio-cultural linguistics, linguistic anthropology, Spain


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