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ANU zoom seminar: Reconstructing agentivity, population dynamics, and language dominance, 7 Dec

Australian National University, Evolution, Outreach

Seminar: Reconstructing agentivity, population dynamics, and language dominance: 150 years of contact and change in Babuyan Claro, Philippines

Speaker: Maria Kristina S. Gallego (ANU) 

When: 7 Dec 2021, 11am-12pm

Where: via zoom (please email for zoom link invitation)


The outcomes of language contact and change exist within the socio-historical context of the community that uses the language, and so the sociolinguistic dynamics of a community are expected to be reflected in corresponding layers of language change. 

Babuyan Claro presents a case study that highlights the importance of this connection. The island community, located in the far north of the Philippines, emerged out of a series of migrations and intense social contact between people from two different, but closely related, ethnolinguistic groups: Ivatan/Itbayaten (Batanic) and Ilokano (Cordilleran). The people’s mixed ancestry, coupled with maintained bilingualism in the two languages, resulted to the development of Ibatan as a language distinct from its sister Batanic languages. 

This pre-submission seminar presents a reconstruction of the dynamic language ecology and sociolinguistic history of the Babuyan Claro community, based on frameworks for language contact (Thomason and Kaufman 1988, van Coetsem 2000, Muysken 2010), and supplemented by ethnographic and genealogical accounts (Maree, R. 1982, Maree, J. 2005). Present-day features in Ibatan are argued to reflect layers of change in the language linked to distinct phases in the history of the community. 

The story of Babuyan Claro is one that involves 150 years of evolving patterns of bilingual agentivity and community-wide language dominance shaped by an extremely dynamic sociolinguistic landscape. Understanding the nature of language contact through this particular case study presents insights into more general mechanisms that govern language change. 


Maree, Judith. 2005. The Ibatan: A genealogy of the people of Babuyan Claro Island. Manila: Summer Institute of Linguistics.  

Maree, Rundell. 1982. Ibata’an cultural origins and social organization. MA thesis, University of Texas Arlington.  

Muysken, Pieter. 2010. Scenarios for language contact. In The handbook of language contact, edited by Raymond Hickey, 265-281. Oxford: Blackwell.  

Thomason, Sarah and Terrence Kaufman. 1988. Language Contact, Creolization and Genetic Linguistics. Berkeley: University of California Press. 

Van Coetsem, Frans. 2000. A general and unified theory of the transmission process in language contact. Heidelberg: Winter.  

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