Language Shift: A Study of Three Generations Within a Cree Family
This study examines and describes intergenerational language shift across three generations as evidenced in three Cree speakers from three generations of the researcher's family. The premise that not all language shift situations are voluntary informs this thesis. The primary objective is to find out how Cree language use is shifting to the English language. Part of this objective involves uncovering the Euro-Centric practices, policies, and ideologies which have contributed to the change in language use. This research addresses the effect external political-economic relations have had on Indigenous languages and on the Cree language. The methodology used is qualitative, involving members of the researcher's Cree family. This qualitative study employs a Cree story, narrated in Cree by three generations of the family. Other data is obtained from informal interviews, field notes and personal insights about language shift and language use. The qualitative approach allows the researcher to blend her voice with the participants, weaving her thoughts throughout the thesis to develop views of language, its use, and shift. It applies the principle that each language has its own particular way of framing, naming and understanding the world in totality. It advocates maintaining Cree for future generations to understand the relationship of man to the environment and the development of knowledge.