vaikuntha (vaikuntha) wrote in linguaphiles,

Preserving a Minority Language

Hello all,

I need advice or tips or whatever on how to preserve my ethnic tongue, Jaffanese Sri Lankan Tamil (JSLT). It's the Tamil spoken in the north of Sri Lanka, in and around the Jaffna peninsula.
This language differs from Standard Tamil in its spoken form as Tamil being a diglossic language, has a more or less standard written form.
I know that JSLT has its own unique accent and many unique lexical items. I've heard there are differences in syntax also.
The problem is that most JSLT speakers in Malaysia, where I live, is shifting to Standard Tamil or English and I know it is inevitable as we are only about 27k among nearly 2 million Tamil users here.
I don't know if my struggle is worth it, I hear anecdotal reports from my cousins in Sri Lanka that they are also losing their JSLT as a big chunk of their media comes from India, hence in Standard Tamil.
What are the means I should adopt to preserve JSLT? I'm thinking of making a list of lexical items that is unique to JSLT and comparing it with the Standard Tamil. I also want to record living people who can still speak in the JSLT accent.
My problem is I don't write-read Tamil- I can muster a bit if pushed and my own JSLT and Standard Tamil is poor. The apathy for JSLT is quite strong here, the young generation seems to not be very concerned about it, and with this, comes the larger loss of JSLT culture that is so tied with the language.
Any thoughts?

Thank you.

PS: I'd also appreciate any links to any questionnaires about language use/preference or the like. I'd like to do a quantitative survey of JSLT users.

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