Center for the Study of Language and Society

Utopian Finnish: transfer and shift in migrant communities in Misiones, Argentina

Mittwoch, 18.11.2020, 16:15 Uhr

Eeva Sippola

Prof. Dr. Eeva Sippola is an associate professor at the Department of Languages at the University of Helsinki. Her areas of specialization include contact linguistics and Ibero-American languages and cultures.

Veranstaltende: Center for the Study of Language and Society
Redner, Rednerin: Prof. Dr. Eeva Sippola (University of Helsinki)
Datum: 18.11.2020
Uhrzeit: 16:15 - 17:45 Uhr
Ort: Online
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Merkmale: Öffentlich

This study focuses on Finnish as a heritage language in Colonia Finlandesa and Villa Alborada, originally utopian migrant communities in the Misiones region, Argentina and in Paraguay. The aim is to provide an account of the sociolinguistic history of the communities and an analysis of the contact influences in their Finnish. Today, Finnish is no longer spoken or transmitted to new generations, as the communities have shifted to Spanish (and to Guaraní and/or other migrant languages). I will provide an analysis of the sociolinguistic factors that led to language shift and the loss of Finnish as a community language. Based on spoken language material collected in the 1970s, I will also examine contact influences that resulted from this process and the speakers' reactions towards codemixing. 

The data show limited morphosyntactic differences from dialectal varieties of Finnish, and most of the Spanish loans are lexical items or sporadic codeswitches that have an emphatic function or can be connected to retrieval problems of a Finnish item. Beyond established lexical loans, both fluent and less fluent speakers avoid mixing and comment on it. In addition, translation and word search strategies show evidence of the speakers’ awareness about codemixing and a tendency to avoid it. Overall, the loss of the communities’ ethnolinguistic vitality was determined by the low number of speakers, their socioeconomic status, and a dispersal of the Finnish speakers starting in the 1950s. Additional factors were the status of Finnish in the (inter)national context and changes in Argentinian language policies that regulated the institutional support to migrant languages.

(This is a CSLS guest lecture and part of the Forum SLS. MA and PhD students receive 0.25 ECTS for attending the talk.)