This is part two of a series of discussion questions related to the presentation on language and identity in our Theory of Knowledge class. See the end of this post for related links.
This map shows the topography of Guatemala and neighboring regions, with international boundaries. The red circle indicates the area where traditionally Mam of Tacaná has been spoken.
The next map, taken from the Atlás Lingüístico de Guatemala (Michael Richards, et al. 2003), shows the municipios of Guatemala (secondary administrative divisions, like the ilçeler of Turkey). Each municipio is color coded according to the survival risk of the local indigenous languages. Red denotes the highest risk, and blue denotes minimum risk. The areas in white have no significant indigenous population for the purpose of the study. Notice that Tacaná is coded red.
1. Compare the topographical map with the language risk map. (You can click on the images to enlarge them.) Do
you see a pattern in the distribution of risk levels? What hypotheses can you
make about the relationship between geographic location and the level of risk?
2. Why do you think geographic location would be a factor? Can you think of any intermediate factors, that is, are there any ways that geography creates a certain effect which in turn affects language (like a chain reaction)? Read The sound of a vanishing language again to see if you can find an important clue that I left there.
3. What kind of research could you design to test your ideas about the relationship between geography and language?
Language and identity, part one: The sound of a vanishing language
Language and identity, part three: Diverse ways of knowing