Language endangerment has been a concern for many small-scale communities. But only little attention has been paid to new ways of speaking that different communities invent as their own creative responses to endangerment. In my research among the indigenous Aché communities in Paraguay, I have not only worked to document their heritage language, Aché, but also a newly emerging mixed language, Guaraché, that children learn as their first language. I am particularly interested in how children experiment and play with linguistic resources from different origins that they encounter in their environment and what that tells us about language emergence, linguistic differentiation, and metalinguistic awareness.
No matter where we grow up, during childhood we all develop an intuitive cultural understanding of fairness and justice, good and evil, and of our rights, duties, and obligations to others. But through what everyday activities do we actually acquire this understanding? And how might this happen in a society that is experiencing drastic changes in the social fabric that holds their communities together? In my research among the Aché I investigate how children are socialized into different moral norms and expectations in the two environments in which they grow up, forest and village, as these are tied to past and present ways of life and can therefore give insights into ongoing sociocultural change.
In times marked by anthropogenic environmental disaster, research on how we relate to the nonhuman world is more important than ever. Research on child socialization can give us crucial insights into how particular understandings of different kinds of nonhumans (such as animals, plants, forests, landscapes, or nature) emerge and the how ethical relations with these are developed. In my work among the Aché I look at children’s interactions with a variety of nonhumans they encounter in their everyday lives in different environments.
Learn more about all my research projects.