0167 | Attitudes and Language – Colin Baker

non-fiction

REVIEW
If you’re into Welsh, this is the book for you. I’m not and I’m reading this in preparation for language survey work in PNG. So, was it relevant? Juuuuuust about.

There’s an overview of what attitudes are. This I found helpful and, if you are new to this area, would be a good read. I’m not, so it was a bit of a bore. There’s a good challenge for more research on attitudes to language. There’s the hardly original conclusion that bilingualism can be a good thing. On the whole though, it was a disappointing read.

It was not helped by the fact that although ostensibly, the book is supposed to be about attitudes and language, it is in fact about attitudes to the Welsh language and views on bilingualism in Wales. It doesn’t take much reading in sociolinguistics to realise that research methods that may give valid and reliable conclusions in Wales are not to be universally applied.

I thought this was a major weakness of the book and one it seems, sadly, that the author does not acknowledge. His use of the semantic differential technique, reliance on the views of individuals rather than groups and the lack of ethnographic research carried out alongside the statistical approach all raise concerns for me that the methodology demonstrated here would be questionable in PNG. So much so, in fact, that it would probably be easier to come up with a different methodology altogether than adapt it.

Relevant points for the surveyor in PNG centre around some which may well be obvious to anyone with training anyway: bilingualism can be positive and attitudes to it are difficult to pin down both in their origins and what influences their change.

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