Êcliaithe Man Tchoeu [Light Up My Heart]: Applied Ethnomusicology and the Revitalisation of the Endangered Language of Jèrriais

Hanby, Christopher Lawrence. 2022. Êcliaithe Man Tchoeu [Light Up My Heart]: Applied Ethnomusicology and the Revitalisation of the Endangered Language of Jèrriais. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Around 40% of humanity’s 7000 active languages are endangered and at risk of ‘death’ or, perhaps more accurately, colonial linguicide this century. Many researchers and activists are working towards linguistic and cultural justice and revitalisation, but the role of music in this process is under-researched. Jèrriais is an endangered form of Norman, unique to the British island of Jersey. This dissertation draws on autoethnographic fieldwork in Jersey, my home island, largely conducted over twelve months during 2017 and 2018. It investigates the ways in which music can help boost the status of a language, towards revitalisation. To this end, it aims to answer two central research questions: 1) How, and to what extent, can music help shape linguistic/cultural identity and language beliefs? 2) What can an in-depth applied ethnomusicological study tell us about the process and the potential for such musical language activism?

My theoretical approach connects key ideas from sociolinguistics regarding language revitalisation (e.g. language planning, language identity, language beliefs) with relevant work in music studies (e.g. music’s relationship to language, identity, and consciousness). I consider these issues in relation to the context of Jersey, particularly regarding Jersey’s deliberate anglicisation and the question of linguistic justice.

Fieldwork was oriented around four applied projects: recording an album with my own pop-folk band, Badlabecques; a school singing project to learn a Jèrriais anthem; a children's choir that performed this anthem on a significant public holiday; and a communitybased collaborative songwriting project. My conclusion discusses the encouraging ethnographic evidence alongside limitations and challenges. I argue that applied ethnomusicological interventions can aid revitalisation processes, particularly by positively influencing cultural identity and language beliefs, as part of a broadly conceived cultural revitalisation strategy that takes an ecological approach. I consider some of the wider implications of this, both within and beyond academia.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Music, ethnomusicology, language revitalisation, endangered languages, Intangible Cultural Heritage, sociolinguistics, cultural identity, cultural ecology, autoethnography, consciousness studies, coloniality, anglicisation, lingustic justice, language planning, language Ideology, language activism, community music, community building, Jersey, Channel Islands, Normandy, Jèrriais, Jersey French, Norman French, Kit Ashton, Badlabecques

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31 October 2022

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 Nov 2022 13:47

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 13:07



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