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FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam

Identities in Transition: A Longitudinal Study of Language Shift in a Kven Community

Awarded: NOK 2.6 mill.

This project examines changes in identity construction in a Kven community undergoing language shift by comparing and contrasting interview data from the same individuals from 1975 and today. This approach contrasts with the existing literature on languag e shift as the proposed project will be a real-time longitudinal study of language shift, unlike previous studies which are retrospective apparent time analyses. Studies of language shift tend to be retrospective as minority language speakers are intervie wed at a point in time when the shift has progressed quite far. Also, due to the lack of data from a point in time in the past, usually it is not possible to do a real time study of language shift. The existing data from Bugøynes, a Kven community in Finn mark, provide a unique opportunity to do a longitudinal analysis and thus study the process of language shift and identity construction over time. The proposed project will be the first longitudinal real-time study of language shift in a community. Theref ore, it will contribute significantly to the research on language maintenance and shift, both nationally and internationally. Norway has often been described as a monolingual homogenous country. There is a tendency to regard the multicultural Norway as a modern phenomenon, but the northernmost parts of Norway have been a contact area for centuries, the groups in contact being Norwegians, Sámi and Kven. The Norwegian nation building process during the 19th century was characterised by the idea of "one lan guage - one nation" and in this image of the nation, there was no room for cultural and linguistics minorities, and thus the minorities in the north went through a period of linguistic and cultural oppression. These policies, often referred to as "the Nor wegianisation process" were abandoned in the 1960s, though the effects lingered for decades afterwards. The impact of these policies on the level of communities and individuals still requires further investigation.

Funding scheme:

FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam