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Original scientific paper

A Phenomenological View of Language Shift

Lukas D. Tsitsipis

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page 55-62

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Sociolinguistic studies of language shift have in their majority framed their research
object in a horizon of theoretically received variables such as class, ethnicity, locality, attitudes
etc. In spite of a limited usefulness of such conceptual variables, and of a recently
emerging focus on agency, negotiation, and praxis the best results we obtain have
not questioned in a coherent and theoretically sound manner the continuing hegemony
of mechanistic-metaphorical models (language death, language suicide). In this paper I
propose to examine language shift as a multifaceted phenomenon, joining in this respect
work by other linguistic anthropologists researching similar areas. I specifically argue
that by replacing vertical concepts such as age and generation, and dichotomous logics
such as center and periphery with phenomenologically inspired concepts such as
typifications, consociateship, contemporariness, and stream of consciousness we are in a
better position to generalize about language shift dynamics. Data for this work is derived
primarily from the Albanian speech communities of modern Greece, but also from
other communities for comparative purposes.


language shift; Arvanitika; Greek; language community

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