Collections > Open Access Books > Studies in Latin America series > Tropical Tongues: Language Ideologies, Endangerment, and Minority Languages in Belize

Tropical Tongues examines the precarious state of minority languages in coastal Belize, as Kriol has risen to the level of a national language in the period following the country’s independence (1981–present). Our fieldwork shows that while the prestige enjoyed by English and Spanish is indisputable, a range of historical and socioeconomic developments have conspired to give Kriol an elevated prestige in the coastal districts at the potential expense of more vulnerable minority languages also spoken there. Our claims are based on ethnographic observations and interviews as well as surveys of language attitudes and use that together show the attenuation of Mopan and Garifuna alongside the stigmatized yet robust Kriol language. Language endangerment studies generally focus on the loss of a minority language to a European language; the present story of language shift and loss examines how large-scale economic restructuring can unsettle existing relationships among minority languages themselves.

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