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Title: Learning "my" language : moments of languages and identities among Kurds in the UK
Author: Yilmaz, Birgul
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 0644
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis examines the intersection of language, identity, language ideologies and attitudes in relation to national, regional, religious and gender identities among Kurdish, Turkish and English speaking multilingual Kurds of Turkey in the UK who are learning Kurmanji-Kurdish as their heritage language in community-based language classes in the UK. The central concern of this thesis is to explore the ways in which language is constructed as a salient marker of Kurdish identity in the UK diaspora. The process of Turkey's accession to the EU, along with greater cultural and linguistic demands of Kurds, has foregrounded the significance of language as a means of democratisation and conflict resolution. The armed conflict between the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) and the Turkish Republic which has been a problem since the 1980s is currently undergoing peace negotiations via a turbulent 'resolution process' (since 2009), tantamount to the 'peace process' initiated in 2012, where language and identity became an important part of the political negotiations between the PKK and the Turkish state. These macro-political developments have had a great impact on the emerging Kurdish language classes in the UK. More specifically, this thesis seeks to examine how national/ethnic identities (Anderson 2006; Hobsbawm 1996; Joseph 2004) as well as regional, religious and gender identities are hierarchised (Omoniyi 2006) in classroom interactions and semistructured interviews. The first part of the thesis draws on a systematic analysis of ethnographic data which predominantly focuses on languages and identities using Interactional Sociolinguistics (IS) (Gumperz 2001) and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) (Fairclough 2010; Wodak and Meyer 2009; Fairclough and Wodak 1997). The second part of the thesis investigates language attitudes (Azjen 1988; Baker 1992; Ryan et al. 1987) towards 'standard' or 'academic' (Bohtan Kürtc̦esi/southern dialect region) versus 'nonstandard' or 'vernacular' varieties such as that which is referred to as 'Maraș Kürtc̦esi' in Turkish or 'Kurmanjiya Mereșe' (northwestern dialect region see figure 1.3) in Kurdish, spoken in Kahramanmara., a city in southern Turkey. This aspect of the investigation takes a social psychological perspective. This thesis aims to contribute to the field of sociolinguistics in relation to the investigation of language and identity from a multidisciplinary and multi-analytical perspective.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral