Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-1-2015

Keywords

Language ideology, Entextualization, Lahu, Writing systems

Abstract

Literate Lahu, speakers of a Tibeto-Burman language in the ethnically and linguistically diverse uplands of Southeast Asia and southwest China, inscribe their language in an ecology of literacies shaped by the imbrication of a number of ideologies. As members of the larger category of chao khao or mountain people, the Lahu belong to a group which is persistently labeled as Other. (Laungaramsri 2001: 43-4). Lahu are also a people-without-writing (Pine 1999), despite the fact that at least three writing systems exist for Lahu, with a fourth in somewhat limited use and at least one other system in development. The ideological diversity of the entextualization of Lahu benefits seeing it within a particular historical and ecological context. This paper historicizes particular literacy practices within the context of the development of a particular form of written Lahu. It also traces the influence of a phenomenon termed "proprietary orthographies" which permeates the ecology of literacies in mainland Southeast Asia and, I argue, has a significant impact on Lahu language literacy practices. Focusing on a subtle issue of the representation of tone, and also drawing on self-reporting of literacy, as well as making use of Keane's concept of "semiotic ideologies", I argue that orthographies enjoy a complex form of indexicality in this region which differs in small, but important, ways from other areas.

Publication Title

Pragmatics

Volume

25

Issue

4

First Page

573

Last Page

588

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1075/prag.25.4.05pin

Required Publisher's Statement

Published by the International Pragmatics Association

Subjects - Topical (LCSH)

Lahu (Asian people); Lahu language--Transcription; Tibeto-Burman languages

Genre/Form

articles

Type

Text

Rights

Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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