Edited by José Antonio Flores Farfán and Fernando F. Ramallo
[Culture and Language Use 1] 2010
► pp. 93–118
The demise and attempted revival of Uchumataqu (Uru)
Values and actors
In this paper I analyze in detail the processes that have led to the virtual disappearance of Uchumataqu, an Uru language of the Bolivian altiplano. Five possible causes of the decay of the language are explored: (a) urban migration; (b) socio-economic restructuring and ethnic reorientation; (c) population decrease; and (d) demographic growth and increasing exogamy with neighbouring Aymara groups; (e) a fragile ecology. Using data from ethnographic research, oral history, analysis of earlier published and unpublished sources, and parish registers, I conclude that the interaction of several of these factors combined was probably responsible for Uchumataqu’s demise, and in the final part of the paper I contrast the fate of Uchumataqu with that of several other seriously endangered languages in Bolivia, and review current attempts to revive the language and their sociolingusitic embedding. Keywords: Revival of endangered languages in Bolivia; Uru; Aymara; actor-centered perspective; language ecology
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