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Language death = identity death?: The role of Provençal in speaker identities

This thesis explores the role the Provençal language plays in the identities of those who speak, or are learning to speak the language. Twelve individuals, who were either teaching, learning or had been involved with Provençal, were interviewed in semi-structured interviews that lasted from 15 minutes to 90 minutes. The interviews were analysed to find the participants’ motivations and opinions in learning or teaching Provençal and how this reflected or impacted on their identity. Language-and-identity is a popular discourse amongst activists, linguists and academics in the field of language revival and maintenance. By interviewing the participants who were directly involved with Provençal, and analysing the role that Provençal plays in their identities, this research strengthened the arguments for the revival and maintenance of Provençal voiced in the language-and-identity argument. The participants’ opinions mirrored those set out in the language-and-identity discourse. The emergence of several themes – identity, aesthetics and status – showed the different ways in which Provençal was reflected in or impacted on the participants’ identities. Personal connection through personal history, family, regional ties and interest were the main factors in the identity theme. Aesthetics dealt with the Provençal language, and the way the participants perceived it, and how this reflected on them. Status was about the other, how other groups in society are perceived to feel about Provençal, and the actions they take (or do not take) because of these feelings. These findings constitute the need for further research into language and identity in a Provençal context, particularly the economic effects of a non-validated linguistic identity, and the role of technology in facilitating the validation of speakers’ identities.
Type of thesis
Pickett, J. V. (2013). Language death = identity death?: The role of Provençal in speaker identities (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8473
University of Waikato
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