What practices and ideologies support small-scale multilingualism? A case study of Warruwi Community, northern Australia

  • 1 University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  • 2 Ngukurr Language Centre, Ngukurr, Northern Territory, Australia
Ruth SingerORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4915-3262 and Salome Harris

Abstract

At Warruwi, a remote Australian Indigenous community, people use a range of Indigenous languages on a daily basis. Adults speak three to eight Indigenous languages and these high levels of multilingualism are out of step with current trends which see most Australian Indigenous communities shifting to a single variety be it a variety of English, a contact variety or a traditional Indigenous language. The three Indigenous languages most widely spoken at Warruwi are quite dissimilar as they belong to separate language families. This article discusses three characteristics of language use at Warruwi that are likely to play a role in supporting the levels of multilingualism found there: the diversity of individual linguistic repertoires, receptive multilingual practices whereby interlocutors address one another in different languages and language ideologies that are quite different to those found elsewhere. Characteristics of multilingualism at Warruwi are compared with those reported for other communities with small-scale multilingualism. Francois’ () concept of egalitarian multilingualism is used as a starting point for the exploration of models of small-scale multilingualism.

  • Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. 2002. Traditional multilingualism and language endangerment. In David Bradley & Maya Bradley (eds.), Language maintenance for endangered languages: An active approach, 24–33. London: Curzon Press.

  • Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. 2013. Shifting language attitudes in north-west Amazonia. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 222. 195–216.

  • Auer, Peter. 1984. Bilingual conversation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.

  • Biddle, Nicholas. 2012. Indigenous language usage. Indigenous Population Project 2011 Census Papers, Paper 1. Canberra: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Research School of Social Sciences, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, Australian National University.

  • Bilaniuk, Laada. 2005. Contested tongues: Language politics and cultural correction in Ukraine. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

  • Bilaniuk, Laada. 2010. Language in the balance: The politics of non-accommodation on bilingual Ukrainian–Russian television shows. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 201. 105–133.

  • Blommaert, Jan, Sirpa Leppänen & Massimiliano Spotti. 2012. Endangering multilingualism. In Jan Blommaert, Sirpa Leppänen, Päivi Pahta & Tiina Räisänen(eds.), Dangerous multilingualism: Northern perspectives on order, purity and normality, 1–21. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Bowern, Claire. 2010. Correlates of language change in hunter-gatherer and other ‘small’languages. Language and Linguistics Compass 4. 665–679.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Bowern, Claire, Patience Epps, Russell Gray, Jane Hill, Keith Hunley, Patrick McConvell & Jason Zentz. 2011. Does lateral transmission obscure inheritance in hunter-gatherer languages? PLoS One 6. e25195.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • Brandl, M. M. & Michael Walsh. 1982. Speakers of many tongues: Toward understanding multilingualism among Aborginal Australians. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 36. 71–81.

  • Bucholtz, Mary & Kira Hall. 2008. All of the above: New coalitions in sociocultural linguistics. Journal of Sociolinguistics 12. 401–431.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Burridge, Kate. 2002. Steel tyres or rubber tyres – maintenance or loss: Pennsylvania German in the “horse and buggy” communities of Ontario. In David Bradley & Maya Bradley (eds.), Language endangerment and language maintenance: An active approach, 203–229. London: Curzon Press.

  • Busch, Brigitta. 2006. Language biographies for multilingual learning: Linguistic and educational considerations. In Brigitta Busch, Aziza Jardine & Angelika Tjoutuku (eds.), Language biographies for multilingual learning, 5–17. Cape Town: Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA).

  • Busch, Brigitta. 2010. School language profiles: Valorizing linguistic resources in heteroglossic situations in South Africa. Language and Education 24. 283–294.

  • Busch, Brigitta. 2012. The linguistic repertoire revisited. Applied linguistics 33. 503–523.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Canagarajah, Suresh & Indika Jananda Liyanage. 2012. Lessons from pre-colonial multilingualism. In Marilyn Martin-Jones, AdrianBlackledge & Angela Creese (eds.), The Routledge handbook of multilingualism, 49–65. London: Routledge.

  • Chernela, Janet. 2013. Toward a Tukanoan ethnolinguistics: Metadiscursive practices, identity, and sustained linguistic diversity in the Vaupés basin of Brazil and Colombia. In Patience Epps & Kristine Stenzel (eds.), Upper Rio Negro: Cultural and linguistic interactions, 197–244. Rio de Janeiro: Museu Nacional Museu do Índio – Funai.

  • Clark, Marshall & Sally K. May (eds.). 2013. Macassan history and heritage: Journeys, encounters and influences. Canberra: ANU ePress.

  • Clyne, Michael. 1997. Multilingualism. In Florian Coulmas (ed.), The Handbook of sociolinguistics, 301–314. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Dale, Rick & Gary Lupyan. 2012. Understanding the origins of morphological diversity: The linguistic niche hypothesis. Advances in Complex Systems 15(03n04). 1150017.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • DCITA (Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts). 2005. National indigenous languages survey report 2005. Canberra: Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.

  • de Vries, Lourens. 2012. Speaking of clans: Language in Awyu-Ndumut communities of Indonesian West Papua. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 214. 5–26.

  • Di Carlo, Pierpaolo & Jeff Good. 2014. What are we trying to preserve? Diversity, change, and ideology at the edge of the Cameroonian Grassfields. In Peter Austin & Julia Sallabank (eds.), Endangered languages: Beliefs and ideologies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Di Carlo, Pierpaolo. 2015. Multilingualism, solidarity, and magic: new perspectives on language ideologies in the Cameroonian Grassfields. In Simone Casini, Carla Bruno, Francesca Gallina & Raymond Siebetcheu (eds.), Plurilinguismo – Sintassi. Atti del XLVI Congresso Internazionale della Società di Linguistica Italiana. Siena 27–29 settembre 2012, 290–304. Roma: Bulzoni.

  • Dixon, R. M. W. 2002. Australian languages: Their nature and development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Doerr, Neriko Musha (ed.). 2009. The native speaker concept: Ethnographic investigations of native speaker effects. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

  • Döhler, Christian. 2013. “Don’t talk to him! His family speaks a bit mixed.” Multilingualism from the perspective of the documenter. 3rd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC), Honolulu, Hawai’i, 28th February to 3rd March 2013. http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/26087(accessed 10 October 2005).

  • Elwell, Vanessa M.R. 1977. Multilingualism and lingua francas among Australian Aborigines: A case study of Maningrida. Honours thesis. Canberra: Australian National University.

  • Elwell, Vanessa M.R. 1982. Some social factors affecting multilingualism among Aboriginal Australians: A case study of Maningrida. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 36. 83–103.

  • Evans, Nicholas. 1992. Macassan loanwords in Top End languages. Australian Journal of Linguistics 12. 45–91.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Evans, Nicholas. 2000. Iwaidjan: A very un-Australian language family. Linguistic Typology 4. 91–142.

  • Evans, Nicholas. 2001. The last speaker is dead – long live the last speaker! In Paul Newman & Martha Ratliff(eds.), Linguistic fieldwork, 250–281. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Evans, Nicholas. 2007. Warramurrungunji undone: Australian languages in the 51st millennium. In Matthias Brenzinger (ed.), Language diversity endangered, 342–373.Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Evans, Nicholas. 2013. Multilingualism as the primal human condition: what we have to learn from small-scale speech communities. Keynote lecture, International Symposium on Bilingualism, Singapore, 10–12 June 2013.

  • Ferguson, Charles A. 1964. Diglossia. In Dell Hymes (ed.), Language in culture and society, 429–445. New York: Harper and Row.

  • Fishman, Joshua. 1967. Bilingualism with and without diglossia: Diglossia with and without bilingualism. Journal of Social Issues 23. 29–38.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Francois, Alex. 2012. The dynamics of linguistic diversity: Egalitarian multilingualism and power imbalance among northern Vanuatu languages. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 214. 85–110.

  • Gal, Susan. 2007. Multilingualism. In Carmen Llama, Louise Mullany & Peter Stockwell (eds.), The Routledge companion to sociolinguistics, 149–156. London: Routledge.

  • Garde, Murray. 2008. Kun-dangwok: “Clan lects” and Ausbau in western Arnhem Land. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 191. 141–169.

  • Giles, Howard & Jessica Gasiorek. 2014. Parameters of non-accommodation: Refining and elaborating communication accommodation theory. In Joseph P. Forgas, Orsolya Vincze & János László (eds.), Social cognition and communication, 155–172. Psychology Press: New York.

  • Graber, Kathryn E. 2015. On the disassembly line: Linguistic anthropology in 2014. American Anthropologist 117. 350–363.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Granadillo, Tania & Heidi Orcutt-Gachiri(eds.). 2011. Ethnographic contributions to the study of endangered languages. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona.

  • Green, Rebecca. 2003. Gurr-goni, a minority language in a multilingual community: Surviving into the 21st century. In Joe Blythe & R. McKenna Brown (eds.), Maintaining the links: Language, identity and the land, 127–134. Proceedings of the seventh FEL conference, Broome, Western Australia, 22–24 September 2003. Bath: Foundation for Endangered Languages.

  • Gumperz, John J. 1964. Linguistic and social interaction in two communities. American Anthropologist 66. 137–153.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Heath, Jeffrey. 1978. Linguistic diffusion in Arnhem Land. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.

  • Herkenrath, Annette. 2012. Receptive multilingualism in an immigrant constellation: Examples from Turkish–German children’s language. International Journal of Bilingualism 16. 287–314.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Irvine, Judith T. 2001. “Style” as distinctiveness: The culture and ideology of linguistic differentiation. In Penelope Eckert & John R. Rickford (eds.), Style and sociolinguistic variation, 21–43. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Irvine, Judith. 2012. Language ideology. Oxford Bibliographies in Anthropology. doi: (22 June 2015).

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Irvine, Judith T & Susan Gal. 2000. Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. In Paul V. Kroskrity (ed.), Regimes of language: Ideologies, polities, and identities, 35–84. Santa Fe/Oxford: School of American Research Press/James Currey.

  • Kroskrity, Paul V. 1993. Language, history and identity: Ethnolinguistic studies of the Arizona Tewa. Tuscon, AZ: The University of Arizona Press.

  • Kroskrity, Paul V. 2000. Regimenting languages: Language ideological perspectives. In Paul V. Kroskrity (ed.), Regimes of language: Ideologies, polities, and identities, 1–34. Santa Fe/Oxford: School of American Research Press/James Currey.

  • Kroskrity, Paul V. 2004. Language ideologies. In Alessandro Duranti (ed.), A companion to linguistic anthropology, 496–517. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Krumm, Hans-Jürgen & Eva-Maria Jenkins. 2001. Kinder und ihre Sprachen – lebendige Mehrsprachigkeit: Sprachenportraits gesammelt und kommentiert von Hans-Jürgen Krumm. Vienna: Eviva.

  • Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons & Charles D. Fennig. 2013. Ethnologue: Languages of the world, 17th edn. Dallas, TX: SIL International.

  • Lüpke, Friederike. 2013. Multilingualism on the ground. In Friederike Lüpke & Anne Storch (eds.) Repertoires and choices in African languages, 13–76. Berlin: de Gruyter.

  • Lüpke, Friederike. Forthcoming. Pure fiction – the interplay of indexical and essentialist language ideologies and heterogeneous practices: A view from Agnack. Language Documentation and Conservation, Special Publication.

  • Lüpke, Friederike & Anne Storch. 2013. Repertoires and choices in African languages. Berlin: de Gruyter.

  • Lupyan, Gary & Rick Dale. 2010. Language structure is partly determined by social structure. PLoS One 5(1). e8559.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • Makoni, Sinfree & Alastair Pennycook. 2005. Disinventing and (re) constituting languages. Critical Inquiry in Language Studies: An International Journal 2. 137–156.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Martin-Jones, Marilyn, Adrian Blackledge& AngelaCreese. 2012. Introduction: A sociolinguistics of multilingualism for our times. In Marilyn Martin-Jones, Adrian Blackledge & Angela Creese (eds.), The Routledge handbook of multilingualism, 1–26. London: Routledge.

  • Matras, Yaron. 2009. Language contact. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • McConvell, Patrick & Nick Thieberger. 2001. State of indigenous languages in Australia – 2001. Canberra: Department of the Environment and Heritage.

  • McConvell, Patrick & Nicholas Thieberger. 2006. Keeping track of indigenous language endangerment in Australia. In Denis Cunningham, D.E. Ingram & Kenneth Sumbuk (eds.), Language diversity in the Pacific: Endangerment and survival, 54–84. Toronto: Multilingual matters.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Merlan, Francesca. 1981. Land, language and social identity in Aboriginal Australia. Mankind 13. 133–148.

  • Monaghan, Leila. 2011. The expanding boundaries of linguistic anthropology. American Anthropologist 113. 222–234.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Mufwene, Salikoko S. 2008. Language evolution: Contact, competition and change. London: Continuum.

  • Pietikäinen, Sari & Anne Pitkänen-Huhta. 2013. Multimodal literacy practices in the indigenous Sámi classroom: Children navigating in a complex multilingual setting. Journal of Language, Identity & Education 12. 230–247.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Rehbein, Jochen, Jan D. ten Thije & Anna Verschik. 2012. Lingua receptiva (LaRa) – remarks on the quintessence of receptive multilingualism. International Journal of Bilingualism 16. 248–264.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Riley, Kathleen C. 2011. Language socialization and language ideologies. In Alessandro Duranti, Elinor Ochs & Bambi BSchieffelin (eds.), The handbook of language socialization, 493–514. Oxford: Blackwell.

  • Rumsey, Alan. 1993. Language and territoriality in Aboriginal Australia. In Michael Walsh & Colin Yallop (eds.), Language and culture in aboriginal Australia, 191–206. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aborginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Press.

  • Sachdev, Itesh, Howard Giles & Anne Pauwels. 2013. Accommodating multilinguality. In Tej K. Bhatia & William C. Ritchie (eds.), The handbook of bilingualism and multilingualism, 391–416. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Sankoff, Gillian. 1980. Multilingualism in Papua New Guinea. In Gillian Sankoff (ed.), The social life of language, 95–132. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

  • Shepard, Carolyn A., Howard Giles & Beth A. Le Poire. 2001. Communication accommodation theory. The new handbook of language and social psychology, 33–56. Malden, MA: Wiley.

  • Sicoli, Mark A. 2011. Agency and ideology in language shift and language maintenance. In Tania Granadillo & Heidi Orcutt-Gachiri(eds.), Ethnographic contributions to the study of endangered languages, 161–176. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona.

  • Silverstein, Michael. 1979. Language structure and linguistic ideology. In R. Cline, W. Hanks & C. Hofbauer (eds.), The elements: A parasession on linguistic units and levels, 193–247.Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society.

  • Sorensen, Arthur P. Jr. 1974 [1967]. Multilingualism in the northwest Amazon. In Patricia J. Lyon (ed.), Native South Americans: Ethnology of the least known continent, 138–158. Boston, MA: Little-Brown.

  • Stenzel, Kristine. 2005. Multilingualism in the Northwest Amazon, revisited. Proceedings of the Conference on Indigenous Languages of Latin America-II. University of Texas Austin, 27–29 October 2005. http://www.ailla.utexas.org/site/cilla2/Stenzel_CILLA2_vaupes.pdf (accessed 7 June 2015).

  • Sutton, Peter. 1978. Wik Aboriginal society, territory and language at Cape Keerweer, Cape York Peninsula. PhD Thesis. Brisbane: University of Queensland.

  • Sutton, Peter. 1997. Materialism, sacred myth and pluralism: Competing theories of the origin of Australian languages. In Francesca Merlan, John Morton & Alan Rumsey (eds.), Scholar and sceptic: Australian aboriginal studies in honour of L.R. Hiatt, 211–242. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press.

  • Sutton, Peter & Bruce Rigsby. 1979. Linguistic communities and social networks in Cape York Peninsula. In Stephen A. Wurm (ed.), Australian lingusitic studies, 713–732. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.

  • ten Thije, Jan D. & Ludger Zeevaert (eds.). 2007. Receptive multilingualism: Linguistic analyses, language policies and didactic concepts. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Tench, Watkin. 1961[1793]. Sydney’s first four years: Being a reprint of A narrative of the expedition to Botany Bay and A complete account of the settlement at Port Jackson. With an introduction and annotations by L.F. Fitzhardinge. Sydney: Angus and Robertson, in association with the Royal Australian Historical Society.

  • Trudgill, Peter. 2011. Sociolinguistic typology: The social determinants of linguistic complexity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Urla, Jacqueline. 1993. Cultural politics in an age of statistics: Numbers, nations, and the making of Basque identity. American Ethnologist 20(4). 818–843. (22 June 2015).

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Vaughan, Jill & Margaret Carew. 2015. Meaning-making in Maningrida Social factors in code-choice in a highly multilingual community. 10th International Symposium on Bilingualism, Rutgers University, New Jersey, 20–24May 2015.

  • Verschik, Anna. 2012. Practising receptive multilingualism: Estonian–Finnish communication in Tallinn. International Journal of Bilingualism 16. 265–286.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Wilkins, David P. & David Nash. 2008. The European ‘discovery’ of a multilingual Australia: The linguistic and ethnographic successes of a failed expedition. In William McGregor (ed.), Encountering aboriginal languages: Studies in the history of Australian linguistics, 485–507. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.

  • Williams, Glyn. 1992. Sociolinguistics: A sociological critique. London: Routledge.

  • Woolard, Kathryn A. 1998. Introduction: Language ideology as a field of inquiry. In Bambi B. Schieffelin, Kathryn A. Woolard & Paul V. Kroskrity (eds.), Language ideologies: Practice and theory, 3–49. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Zeevaert, Ludger. 2007. Receptive multilingualism and inter-Scandinavian communication. In Jan D. ten Thije & Ludger Zeevaert (eds.), Receptive multilingualism: Linguistic analyses, language policies and didactic concepts, 103–135. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
$42.00
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.


or
Log in with your institution

Journal + Issues

IJSL is dedicated to the development of the sociology of language as a truly international and interdisciplinary field in which various approaches - theoretical and empirical - supplement and complement each other, contributing thereby to the growth of language-related knowledge, applications, values and sensitivities. The journal features topically-focused issues with individual contributions on small languages and small language communities.

Search