AuthorScionti, Theresa Louise
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation is an historical look at the politics of language of the Pulaar in Mauritania, West Africa. An overview of the linguistic characteristics of Pulaar and the cultural geography of the Pulaar is provided. Historically, the Pulaar have had to face racist attacks of violence upon themselves, their property and their language, in the context of French colonialism and the subsequent Moor-led regimes, including French-only and then Arabic-only language policies, and the alienating linguistic ideologies that accompany them. The Pulaar language only recently is in the written form, and grass-roots language development efforts began with underground rural literacy campaigns, led by the clandestine political group, the MND. Over time, these and other Pulaar language development efforts have faced fierce opposition from the regime. There was also the sabotage strategy of the regime attempting to coopt the grass-roots movement, under-fund it, and then dismantle it, declaring it a failure. Nevertheless, Pulaar continues to have primary functional value in the domestic realm of Halpulaar'en and in the Pulaar community. This can be seen as an everyday form of resistance, given the difficult circumstances. The strategies the Pulaar use to survive and thrive in this context may provide insight for other ethnolinguistic minority groups in post-colonial contexts. The dissertation offers a detailed explanation of the methodological process for the micro-level research in the Pulaar town of Boghe, Mauritania. This process includes household interviews, informal key informant interviews, participant observation and data analysis. Key concepts are defined, variables are explained, and a basic description of Koranic schooling and the French system of education is provided. Information about the demographics and the language, literacy and education levels of the 238 people from the ten households interviewed is presented in the form of a descriptive analysis. Their reported levels of oral proficiency in Pulaar, Arabic and French provide insight into their language attitudes. An analysis of the highest level they achieved in school, compared by school-age groups and gender, offers insight into their access to schooling over time. A multilingual glossary, a list of acronyms and the household questionnaires are included for the readers' convenience.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading and Culture