August 04, 2020

PhD Thesis Defence - Stan Anonby

PhD Linguistics candidate Stan Anonby will be defending his thesis this month. Anonby's thesis is titled "Prolonged Multilingualism among the Sebuyau: An Ethnography of Communication". 

Date:             Thursday, August 13, 2020
Time:            10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Location:     via teleconference; no public attendance


This thesis describes the Sebuyau language and seeks to explain how this small group as maintained their culture and way of speaking in the shadow of very large languages like Malay, English and Chinese. I use the ethnographic method to study this ethnic group. Specifically, I based this ethnography of communication on two texts told by twenty-four people, who all belong to the community of practice of Keluarga Church. The study is divided into two broad areas. Part of the thesis is more synchronic linguistics, and describes the lexicon, phonology and morphology of Sebuyau. The conclusion is that Sebuyau is avariety of Iban. The lexicon exhibits considerable borrowing from languages that are no longer spoken in the area –such as Sanskrit. But most of the non-Sebuyau words are English or Malay. There are some lexicographic signs of the beginning of language shift to Malay, but the phonology shows signs that the language is being reincorporated into Iban. The other theme of the thesis is an examination of the reasons why Sebuyau has not been swallowed up by Malay or some other language. It is a more general description of the history and linguistic ecology of the area in Malaysia that is their homeland. In particular, the study shows how the linguistic ecology has helped the Sebuyau maintain their identity and way of speaking.

Key words:  language maintenance; language shift; sociolinguistics; Borneo; Sebuyau; Iban

Members of Examining Committee:

Chair: Dr. Chung-hye Han
Senior Supervisor: Dr. Panayiotis Pappas
Supervisor: Dr. Donna Gerdts
Supervisor: Dr. John Alderete
Examiner: Dr. Roumiana Ilieva
External Examiner: Dr. Lindsay Whaley, Dartmouth College