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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Chumash Narrative Folklore as Sociolinguistic Data


But when a culture is extinct, or has been drastically altered through acculturation, how can its original speech behavior be assessed? For example, the aboriginal inhabitants along the coast of south-central California were culturally quite similar, though linguistically diverse; these peoples were missionized some two hundred years ago, and their descendants are now largely or wholly acculturated into contemporary society. What can be said of these peoples' original speech patterns? The ethnographic statements of actual observers of the aboriginal communities almost universally confined themselves to various aspects of material culture. By the time competent ethnographers arrived on the scene, the culture was almost totally moribund; surviving informants were themselves largely second-hand sources, repeating what they had heard of the old ways.

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