Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Abstract: Jane Hill undertook ten years of innovative research in Mexico, authoring seven books and 160-plus papers, a majority analyzing Mexicano and other Uto-Aztecan language contexts. Publishing with Ken Hill the most extensive, influential sociolinguistic description of any Mexican indigenous speech community: Speaking Mexicano: Dynamics of Syncretic Language in Central Mexico (Hill and Hill 1986), this volume reached a larger audience with its translation to Spanish in 1999 (Flores Farfán, López Cruz, translators). Deeply serious in her commitment to studying Uto-Aztecan languages, Hill also sought to understand the relationship between language and political economic contexts of linguistic ideologies in Mexico. Her work on Uto-Aztecan languages spans a wide range from grammar, indexicality, narrative analysis, multivocality, and ideologies of language in discourse. Our panel consists of linguistic anthropologists from Mexico and the U.S., each highlighting research inspired by Hill. The goal is to exhibit the far reach of Hill’s influential ideas on generations of scholars and speakers studying the indigenous Americas.
Hill (1998) argued that heritage-language monolinguals may have an important impact in acquisition and socialization in language shift contexts. Taking as a point of departure Hill’s (Ibid.) notion of the role of a grandparent effect in shift situations, LOURDES de LEON's paper develops a model for a “language socialization niche” (LSN) to account for the spaces between and within generations where a language is socialized in a shift context. de Leon’s paper is based on long term ethnography among the Tzotzil Mayan people of Chiapas, Mexico.
Conducting research on the social dynamics of language contact in the indigenous Guarijío region of Chihuahua, Mexico, CLAUDIA J. HARRISS is inspired by Hill’s methodological focus on linguistic ideology in anthropological fieldwork. Looking at today’s displacement of Guarijío, since the advent of formal education in Spanish began in 1975, Harriss analyzes conflicts, negotiations, and other expressions of resistance among different social actors, given a failed educational policy and discriminatory practices against Indigenous people.
JACQUELINE MESSING analyzes a public linguistic event in Mexico held to celebrate the Spanish translation of Speaking Mexicano (Hill and Hill 1986). Held in rural Tlaxcala, attended by the authors, scholars, collaborators and local language promoters, the discourse analyzed shows the local interpretation of syncretism (Hill 2000), describing ideologies and metadiscursive practices, adding intertextual complexity to several interpretations of syncretic speech and purism.
Focusing on Yaqui and Mayo language maintenance and shift against Spanish in Sonora, Mexico, JOSé LUIS MOCTEZUMA ZAMARRON analyzes multiple dynamics involved in language ideologies in this region. Hill’s linguistic anthropological approach to indigenous communities’ language situations in central Mexico has been insightful for other regions such as this.
DANIEL SUSLAK describes how Ayuujk (Mixe) speakers in Oaxaca, Mexico have been engaging with artistic, commercial, and scholarly representations of their language as they work toward their own distinctive modes of advocacy and self-presentation. He examines discourses surrounding several entrepreneurial efforts serving to increase enthusiasm for Ayuujk alternatives to mainstream Mexican tropes about indigenous languages in a way that simultaneously embraces and questions Ayuujk identity.
BARBRA MEEK is our discussant.