This is a language warning ...
: visualising an endangered language as realised through the notion of country

  • Veronica Calarco

Traethawd ymchwil myfyriwr: Traethawd Ymchwil DoethurolDoethur mewn Athroniaeth


This is a language warning is a creative investigation into the visualisation of an endangered language realised through the notion of country. It uses a minority language to displace the dominant language with which both languages interact. The endangered language, Gunnai/Kurnai ̆ , is in the process of being awoken and the minority language, Cymraeg, was endangered and is still under threat. The dominant language is English, which, although it cannot be fully removed has been displaced from its usual central positioning by a decolonial strategy. By responding to linguist, David Crystal’s call to arms for the creative world to expose this extinction, and aid in the survival and reclamation of threatened languages (Crystal "Crossing the Great Divide" 4) my research constitutes an original contribution to the ongoing discussions on language extinction. Crystal believes that, “if we want Them1 to see what the situation is, the artists can help us more than anyone else” (Crystal "Crossing the Great Divide" 4). Through a process of printmaking, painting and installation, the visual research and the supporting exegesis aims to contribute to the discussions on language extinction. To explore the intricacies of reviving an endangered language on a personal level, I followed strategies described in factsheets developed by the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation of Languages. The VACL developed these factsheets to offer suggestions on how indigenous language communities can revive their languages without recourse to linguists. From these factsheets I developed four steps that initiated four different lines of inquiry for the visual and theoretical research. The exegesis uses a narrative structure to explore the four discrete projects developed from each step. The first step is to collect names, which allows an exploration of how spaces are named and the post-colonial processes of who is allowed to (re)name them and the power struggles inherent in the (re)naming. This is expressed through two bodies of work: Adnabod Lle, a series of five paintings and Toonalook, an installation of lithographic prints. The second step is to collect words, which explores why words and their concepts are not easily translatable between languages and explores the political act of reclaiming a language. This is expressed through a series of eight lithographic prints that each represent a word. The third step is to find a known story, which allows an exploration of the issues of translation and the knowledge and culture in the original stories. This is expressed through a Gunnai/Kŭrnai and a Cymraeg myth. The final step provides an opportunity to re-voice the language and allow the land to speak. This is expressed through y tir wedi’i dad-dewi, a sound installation. The ‘notion of country’ is a visual representation of the language in the land and responds to a line from Aros Mae, a poem by John Ceiriog Hughes: ond mae’r heniaith yn y tir. As the project developed through the four steps, the language moved from being in the land to y tir wedi’i dad-dewi (the land unmuted). The theoretical research has been informed by research by linguists Ken Hale, Michael Krauss, Suzanne Romaine, David Nettle, David Evans, and Christina Eira who highlight the loss of endangered languages and their value both to the language groups and to the
world and also highlight the danger of the losing the knowledge contained within the languages; and by environmental theorists Val Plumwood, Anne Whiston-Spirn, Bruce Pascoe, and Deborah Bird Rose who provide an inclusive view of the environment as something that is part of us, rather than something that is detached from us. My studio research has been informed by artists such Julie Gough, Linda Brodie, Stephan Paton, Robert Campbell Jnr, Iwan Bala, Paul Davies and Tim Davies who use their art to retell colonial narratives, asserting a post-colonial restorying and reclaiming voices that have been negated and silenced. Through creating a visual project to respond to David Crystal’s call to arms for the creative world to expose the extinction of endangered languages, I have demonstrated the personal and community nature of language reclamation. This reclaiming and maintaining of languages allow those negated and silenced voices to contribute to the post-colonial narratives and provide insight into environmental strategies.
Dyddiad Dyfarnu2020
Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
Sefydliad Dyfarnu
  • Prifysgol Aberystwyth
GoruchwyliwrPaul Croft (Goruchwylydd) & John Harvey (Goruchwylydd)

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