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CoEDL Seminar: When language is not a salient marker of group identity, Uta Reinoehl, 21 Apr

Australian National University, Shape

Date: 17 February 2017

Title: When language is not a salient marker of group identity. Kera'a (Idu Mishmi) and sub-grouping in Tibeto-Burman

Speaker: Dr Uta Reinoehl (CoEDL / Universität zu Köln)

When: 3.30pm-5.00pm Friday 21 April

Venue: Engma Room (5019), HC Coombs Building, ANU


In this talk, I will be looking at linguistic and ethnic affiliations in the "Mishmi" languages of Northeastern India, with a focus on Kera'a (Idu Mishmi). As in some other parts in the eastern Himalayas, linguistic and ethnic groupings show striking mismatches. In the past, ethnic affiliations were often mistakenly believed to mirror linguistic ones, which has led to many revision efforts in recent years of previous sub-grouping proposals, many of which however remain quite preliminary to date. I will demonstrate, first, how linguistic affiliations can be clearly demonstrated if treated independently of ethnic ties. I will furthermore explore the idea that language is not a salient identity marker to distinguish ethnic groups in the region, which not only allows for linguistic-ethnic mismatches, but also for the lack of either pronounced convergence or divergence phenomena between languages.

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