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Julianne Maher

In The Survival of People and Languages: Schooners, Goats and Cassava in St. Barthelemy, French West Indies, Julianne Maher explains a rare linguistic anomaly, how a small homogeneous population of seventeenth century French settlers in the tiny island of St. Barth came to speak four separate languages. With a range of historical documents and eighteenth century eye-witness accounts, Maher reconstructs the island's social ecology that led to its fragmentation. The four speech varieties are closely examined and analyzed, using extensive native speaker interviews; with the impending demise of these languages such documentation is unique. Maher concludes that social factors such as poverty, economics, geography and small population size served to maintain linguistic barriers on the island for over two hundred fifty years.