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3- Establishing priorities in language endangerment work.pdf

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York University
Linguistics and Language Studies
LIN 3619
Bruce Connell

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 - Funding - 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?  Language use  Attitudes - 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?  Not really  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
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