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The Yearbook of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society cover
The Yearbook of the Estonian Mother Tongue Society

Vähemuskeele uurimine keeleteadusliku katsega. Demonstratiivpronoomenite kasutus ruumis viitamisel tänapäeva võru keeles; pp. 142–163

Full article in PDF format | 10.3176/esa65.06

Authors
Helen Plado, Maria Reile

Abstract

Study of a minority language using a linguistic experiment: spatial demonstratives in modern Võro

The article discusses demonstrative pronoun usage among new speakers of Võro and compares it to native speakers’ usage. Conclusions are drawn on the basis of empirical data obtained from a forced-choice production test. It is found that new speakers’ usage of demonstrative pronouns is substantially different from that of people who have acquired the Võro language at home and have regularly used it their whole life. While native speakers least frequently use the pronoun taa, which lacks a direct equivalent in Estonian, this pronoun is the demonstrative used most commonly by new speakers.
The article also shows that, when using linguistic experiments to study an endangered minority language, one must pay attention to factors that are not as relevant for the majority language. For instance, after the experiment it is necessary to carry out a survey regarding how the informant has acquired the minority language as well as when, with whom and how often he/she uses and has used it. At the same time, there is a danger that the formality of the experiment situation may affect the usage of a minority language more than that of a majority language (e.g. the informant may switch to the majority language at some point during the experiment).

 

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