3- Establishing priorities in language endangerment work
Thursday, September 27, 203:00 PM
Why prioritize researchand work on language endangerment?
- Degrees of endangerment
- Whether a language is written or oral
- Dialect vs. language
- Specific causes
- Human resources
What frameworkexists for work on endangered languages?
- Waiting for a theoretical framework vs. piecemeal response
○ EL research still in early stages
- What are the elements of a framework for work on endangered languages?
○ Information from surveys
Personal information (language knowledge)
□ e.g., what is your first language?
- Understanding causes of endangerment, language ecology is essential
○ Language should be considered a component of a general human ecology
Detailedassessment of thesituation, bothlocal and global
- The overall situation; language estimates must be based on reliable survey work
○ Rapid Assessment Survey (RAS)
- Individual languages: not all languages are in the same state of vitality or endangerment
- Improvement of prospects only possible with comprehensive data collection
Attitudes: public and professional
- Linguistic community gradually coming 'on board'
- Public attitudes lag -- why?
○ No public awareness
○ Too complex of an issue
- Community attitudes [in an endangered language community]
○ As long as, "basic needs for shelter, food, safety, and health are unmet, even thinking about language maintenance or revivalseems like an irrelevant
luxury" (Rhydwen 1998: 105)
○ But, can development issues be separated from language?
People can learn better in their own language, this can aid other issues
○ Pride in local language, development of local language can help to reverse the situation
Can increase self-esteem, lead to a desire for economic development
Authenticityof the languageand community
- Language changes; preservation is not fossilization
- Establishment of language committee [purist view]
○ Much work can be done by the local community, without government assistance/policy
○ Majority group needs to be re-assured that revitalization is not a threat
Bilingualism is a good thing
○ Revitalization work must be appropriate to the local setting
- Establishing priorities requires informed judgments
○ Which functions are crucial to intergenerational transmission; in which functions there is a reasonable expectation of success
○ Focus on an 'urgent but do-able agenda', tailor-made rather than acros