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postgraduate thesis: Testing the competence of first language(s) : a cross-generational study of ethnic Nuosu in Liangshan, Sichuan

TitleTesting the competence of first language(s) : a cross-generational study of ethnic Nuosu in Liangshan, Sichuan
Authors
Issue Date2016
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Ding, H. [丁泓棣]. (2016). Testing the competence of first language(s) : a cross-generational study of ethnic Nuosu in Liangshan, Sichuan. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractThis thesis presents the design and application of a prototype competence test for first language(s) of linguistic minority speakers. These speakers usually acquired their minority language as the first language (L1). Some, especially the young generation, also learned another culturally dominant language as L1. However, since the culturally dominant language is often more valued, the minority language has shrinking use in public domains. Many ethnic minorities are shifting from their minority language to the culturally dominant language not only in functionality, but also in competence. The change of competence can be conspicuously observable as well as imperceptibly incremental. The present research is to measure or quantify how competent the ethnic minorities are in their first language(s) when they are facing bi- or multi-lingualism. The prototype competence test in the present research is a comprehensive, objective and linguistic measurement of mainly the grammatical knowledge or the language system per se of the first language(s) of normal speakers. It does not follow any of the existing language assessment in both first language and second language; a comparison is reviewed in Chapter 2. The proposed method is discussed in Chapter 3; the major issues addressed include testability of the five linguistic components (morphology, syntax, lexicon, semantics and pragmatics), solution to the dialectal differences, structure of the test, the question types, and the subjects. Two tests, a Standard Chinese test and a Nuosu test, were finalized based on the methodology. The prototype test was applied to three generations of ethnic Nuosu from Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, China. The elder generation, born around the 1950s, and the middle-aged generation, born around the 1970s, ordinarily learned Nuosu, a Tibeto-Burman language, as the only first language. The young generation, born around the 1990s, generally experienced childhood bilingualism, speaking both Nuosu and Mandarin Chinese (Southwest Mandarin and Standard Chinese) as first languages, though Nuosu was often learned before Chinese in strict sequence. The fieldwork and implementation of the test are introduced in Chapter 4. It was required that all the subjects of ethnic Nuosu should take the Nuosu test and the Nuosu young subjects should also take the Chinese test. Since the Nuosu subjects were illiterate in the Nuosu writing system, the Nuosu test used a computerized audible and spoken format. The same format was also applied to the Standard Chinese test. Moreover, I administered a vocabulary test to the same subjects, as this is often the test of choice by some scholars assessing language competence. The results were compared with those from the present method. Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 are detailed description of the language features used in the Nuosu and Standard Chinese tests, along with the test questions. The results of the competence of the three generations in Nuosu and/or Chinese are discussed in Chapter 7. The main findings are: the Nuosu competence of the young generation is significantly lower than that of the elder and middle-aged generations; moreover, while Nuosu is still the dominant language for nearly all elder and middle-aged generations, language shift regarding competence from Nuosu to Chinese is common among the Nuosu young generation. Therefore, even though the young generation have learned Nuosu as their L1 and speak it as fluently as the other two generations without perceptible difficulty, there is a gap of competence for many of them to be regarded as native speakers of Nuosu (Chapter 8). The aspects of language loss in Nuosu and errors in Chinese are presented in Chapter 9. It is estimated that, without proper intervention, more drastic language shift from Nuosu to Chinese is about to happen (Chapter 10).
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectBilingualism - China - Liangshan Yizu Zizhizhou
Dept/ProgramLinguistics
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/237182
HKU Library Item IDb5807316

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorDing, Hongdi-
dc.contributor.author丁泓棣-
dc.date.accessioned2016-12-23T02:13:03Z-
dc.date.available2016-12-23T02:13:03Z-
dc.date.issued2016-
dc.identifier.citationDing, H. [丁泓棣]. (2016). Testing the competence of first language(s) : a cross-generational study of ethnic Nuosu in Liangshan, Sichuan. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/237182-
dc.description.abstractThis thesis presents the design and application of a prototype competence test for first language(s) of linguistic minority speakers. These speakers usually acquired their minority language as the first language (L1). Some, especially the young generation, also learned another culturally dominant language as L1. However, since the culturally dominant language is often more valued, the minority language has shrinking use in public domains. Many ethnic minorities are shifting from their minority language to the culturally dominant language not only in functionality, but also in competence. The change of competence can be conspicuously observable as well as imperceptibly incremental. The present research is to measure or quantify how competent the ethnic minorities are in their first language(s) when they are facing bi- or multi-lingualism. The prototype competence test in the present research is a comprehensive, objective and linguistic measurement of mainly the grammatical knowledge or the language system per se of the first language(s) of normal speakers. It does not follow any of the existing language assessment in both first language and second language; a comparison is reviewed in Chapter 2. The proposed method is discussed in Chapter 3; the major issues addressed include testability of the five linguistic components (morphology, syntax, lexicon, semantics and pragmatics), solution to the dialectal differences, structure of the test, the question types, and the subjects. Two tests, a Standard Chinese test and a Nuosu test, were finalized based on the methodology. The prototype test was applied to three generations of ethnic Nuosu from Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, China. The elder generation, born around the 1950s, and the middle-aged generation, born around the 1970s, ordinarily learned Nuosu, a Tibeto-Burman language, as the only first language. The young generation, born around the 1990s, generally experienced childhood bilingualism, speaking both Nuosu and Mandarin Chinese (Southwest Mandarin and Standard Chinese) as first languages, though Nuosu was often learned before Chinese in strict sequence. The fieldwork and implementation of the test are introduced in Chapter 4. It was required that all the subjects of ethnic Nuosu should take the Nuosu test and the Nuosu young subjects should also take the Chinese test. Since the Nuosu subjects were illiterate in the Nuosu writing system, the Nuosu test used a computerized audible and spoken format. The same format was also applied to the Standard Chinese test. Moreover, I administered a vocabulary test to the same subjects, as this is often the test of choice by some scholars assessing language competence. The results were compared with those from the present method. Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 are detailed description of the language features used in the Nuosu and Standard Chinese tests, along with the test questions. The results of the competence of the three generations in Nuosu and/or Chinese are discussed in Chapter 7. The main findings are: the Nuosu competence of the young generation is significantly lower than that of the elder and middle-aged generations; moreover, while Nuosu is still the dominant language for nearly all elder and middle-aged generations, language shift regarding competence from Nuosu to Chinese is common among the Nuosu young generation. Therefore, even though the young generation have learned Nuosu as their L1 and speak it as fluently as the other two generations without perceptible difficulty, there is a gap of competence for many of them to be regarded as native speakers of Nuosu (Chapter 8). The aspects of language loss in Nuosu and errors in Chinese are presented in Chapter 9. It is estimated that, without proper intervention, more drastic language shift from Nuosu to Chinese is about to happen (Chapter 10). -
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subject.lcshBilingualism - China - Liangshan Yizu Zizhizhou-
dc.titleTesting the competence of first language(s) : a cross-generational study of ethnic Nuosu in Liangshan, Sichuan-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5807316-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineLinguistics-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-

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