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'I have struggled really hard to learn Sami': Claiming and regaining a minority language
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Centre for Research on Bilingualism.
2017 (English)In: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, ISSN 0165-2516, E-ISSN 1613-3668, Vol. 248, p. 49-71Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article sheds light on the issue of new speakerness via a case study focusing on one adolescent – “Elle” – and her efforts to claim and regain Sami, a national minority language in Sweden. Elle did not acquire Sami at home, but attended Sami school from first grade to sixth grade, where she learned to understand, read, and write the language. Ever since childhood, Elle has “struggled” to learn more Sami and to be acknowledged as a Sami speaker. It was only recently that Elle started using Sami actively in speech, reclaiming her Sami voice and breaking a silence to which she had been involuntarily submitted. A condition that for Elle could have resulted in language loss was, thus, by her efforts to regain the language, turned into a condition of language revitalization. This article shows how Elle’s narratives are linked to language ideologies and language policies in Swedish society, to negative attitudes towards Sami culture, and to discrimination. By learning and actively using Sami in writing and in speech, Elle exercises agency, and by taking the important step to start speaking, Elle proclaims her right to speak Sami and to her representation. The agency that Elle exercises by using Sami is beneficial for her own language development, but could also potentially contribute to the language revitalization of Sami and to the linguistic empowerment of other speakers/learners of Sami.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 248, p. 49-71
Keywords [en]
Minority language, language practices, agency, new speakerness, language revitalization, language policies
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-150095DOI: 10.1515/ijsl-2017-0030OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-150095DiVA, id: diva2:1165082
Projects
Language use, multilingual literacies and the construction of identities among Sami adolescents in Sweden
Funder
The Swedish AcademyAvailable from: 2017-12-12 Created: 2017-12-12 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved

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