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Invisible Languages in the Nineteenth Century

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Anna Havinga and Nils Langer

The great linguistic diversity of spoken languages contrasts greatly with the much smaller number of languages used in written discourse. Many linguistic varieties – in particular, regional and minority languages – are not deemed suitable for writing because they do not possess the necessary lexical wealth or grammatical complexity. Such prejudices are commonplace amongst non-linguists and they have their origin in the sociolinguistic history of their speaker communities.
This book focuses on the nineteenth century as the time when language became an important part of the cultural identity of speakers, communities and nations. It comprises fourteen chapters on a variety of languages and countries and seeks to explore why and how certain linguistic varieties were excluded from written discourse – in other words, why they remain invisible to contemporary readers and modern historians. The case studies in this book illustrate the factors involved in the invisibilisation of languages in the nineteenth century; the metalinguistic debates about the suppression or promotion of regional, minority and non-standard languages; and the ways in which a careful study of informal writing can visibilise the linguistic diversity of spoken languages.

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Mapudungun and the Contested Process of (Nation) State Building in Nineteenth-Century Chile (Joanna Crow)

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Joanna Crow Mapudungun and the Contested Process of (Nation) State Building in Nineteenth-Century Chile abstract This chapter investigates the role of language in the complex dynamics of the relation- ship between Mapuche and Chileans, and particularly between Mapuche people and the Chilean state. It explores the invisibility and visibility of the Mapuche native language, Mapudungun, in nineteenth-century Chile, and questions what this tells us about the state- building process: it shows how the state’s priorities vis-à-vis indigenous peoples shift over time, but also how that process was a dialectical one rather than a linear, predetermined sequence of events. It focuses on the act of writing – the transformation of Mapudungun from an oral to written language – and analyses the power relations bound up in this act. Introduction Mapudungun (sometimes spelt as Mapuzugun, Mapuzungun or Mapunzungun) is the language of the indigenous Mapuche (sometimes called Araucanian) people of Chile.1 Translated into English, it means 1 The Mapuche also live and lay claim to vast tracts of land in Argentina but this paper focuses almost exclusively on Chile. Araucanian was a term invented by the Spanish, and today most people who self-identify as Mapuche reject it as a racist appellation that relegates them to the past. It was, however, widely used by Chileans and Mapuche until the late twentieth century, and still now many non-Mapuche in Chile continue to use the term. There is no standardised, agreed upon or ‘official’ version of the Mapudungun alphabet. Several have been proposed, all of which...

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