Séminaire Terrains, Analyse et COmparaison des Langues (TACOL)

The next session of our TACOL seminar will take place on Tuesday, March 05 at 2:30 pm, on site (meeting room 311, CNRS Villejuif Campus) and on Zoom.

We will have the pleasure to listen to Jean ROHLEDER (LACITO).

Title of presentation: 

“Méthodes de terrain en pays kanak : travailler en milieux plurilingues post-colonisés”


New Caledonia is a fascinating terrain to work in. Linguistically highly diverse, with typically Melanesian small communities, widespread multilingualism, and a conscious differentiation between varieties, it is in many ways a dream come true for linguistic fieldworkers. But New Caledonia is also a French territory. The French language and culture have had a huge impact on this last French settlers colony. Today, about half the population are not indigenous. After several organized attempts to gain independence, not all speakers are thrilled to work with outsiders. In this situation, it is important to think about some questions that go beyond language description. How do you get informed consent? How do you deal with e.g. loanwords, loan phones, rapidly changing inventories, language attrition, difficult social situations?

This talk will introduce New Caledonia and its socio-cultural context, but makes the claim that the challenges encountered there are at play in most post-colonial, small-scale multilingual societies.

Focussing on northern New Caledonia, we will use the case of Vamale as an example of the pressures that develop on a speech community in a colonial and post-colonial context, and before that background discuss the field experiences of several researchers in the last 10 years. As usual in these cases, no rubber stamp solutions exist, but being able to contextualise the challenges is enormously helpful for any fieldworker. While the talk is mostly socio-linguistic and historical in nature, we’ll discuss language contact phenomena in Vamale as well as some cases of rapid language change and attrition.


For further information, please contact Lameen Souag

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