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Title: Multilingualism, linguistic ownership and ethnic identity : attitudes to, and use of, Mauritian
Author: Rajah-Carrim, Aaliya
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2005
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This dissertation aims to shed more light on users’ attitudes to Mauritian in two specific domains: writing and education. Through the triangulation of such methods as interviews, perceptual dialectology questionnaires and participant observation, I explain some of the local language ideologies and also provide a comprehensive view of the linguistic situation in Mauritius. This study shows that attitudes towards Mauritian in the written domain and in the education sector vary significantly. For some Mauritians, Mauritian remains an oral language. Those who do write Mauritian adopt a number of spelling systems. I show how the choice of an orthographic system reflects linguistic and social hierarchies and consequently, is not ideologically neutral. Also, the (perceived) lack of standard for Mauritian is an obstacle to its promotion in the school system. Generally, the non-standard and broken nature of Mauritian, its limited use outside Mauritius and its perceived role as an index of Creole identity are seen as obstacles to its promotion in the written domain and education sector; while its importance as a mother-tongue and its function as a tool of national unity and index of national identity support its use in the written domain and its inclusion in schools. Intimately related to attitudes to Mauritian are perceptions of linguistic purity and ownership which are, in turn, closely linked to ideologies about ethnic identity on the island. A discussion of the purity and ownership of Mauritian further highlights the paradoxical situation which the language finds itself in. While some individuals and groups stress the ethnic nature of Mauritian, others emphasise its national character. Mauritian is clearly embedded with double indexicalities: on the one hand, it is an index of Creole ethnicity and on the other, an index of Mauritian national identity. This leads to different groups fighting over the ownership of the language. This dissertation shows how the question of linguistic ownership is fraught with issues of identity, minority rights and access to power. Because of the nature of the questions addressed, this study has practical social implications for the standardisation of Mauritian, its use in the education system and its promotion at national level – issued that are of immediate interest to Mauritian society generally, and Mauritian language planners specifically.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available