The Role of Sound Recordings in the Revitalisation of Minority Languages of the Ainu People (Japan) and the West Frisians (the Netherlands)
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This thesis explores the use of sound recordings in the revitalisation of two minority languages – the Ainu (Japan) and the West Frisian (the Netherlands). Over the last few decades, a growing concern about linguistic diversity in the world has led to an increasing awareness of minority languages, which are endangered by loss. The concept of language revitalisation calls for work which will affect the vitality of these languages. The nature of these revitalisation efforts is inscribed into place-related processes and the interpretations of the relationships between language speakers and the place they live in. Sound recordings can afford language revitalisation with the restoration of sounds of languages. This thesis argues that the heart of language revitalisation lies in the re-sounding of place attachment and sense of place. The selection of the two language cases studies, which allow for the multi-faceted use of sound recordings to be revealed and understood, constitutes an important part in the search for an understanding of these interconnections. Based on these two language case studies, which contrast in degrees of language endangerment, this research analyses how and why sound recordings engage in the processes of language revitalisation. Qualitative methods of research, encompassing forty one semi-structured and episodic interviews conducted in Japan and the Netherlands along with observations and secondary data analysis, were used in this study. The comparative approach revealed similarities and differences in the revitalisation of the Ainu and West Frisian languages and the practices of using sound recordings. Importantly, this thesis demonstrates that the significance of sound recordings arise from their capability of creating aural experience of the language, which empowers both processes of language revitalisation with the restoration of place attachment and sense of place. This finding represents a key contribution to the research of linguistic and geographical knowledge about the revitalisation of endangered languages, the role of technology in language revitalisation and to the debate on saving linguistic and cultural diversity in the world.
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