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1. Death by other means: Neo-vernacularization of South Asian languages

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Title: 1. Death by other means: Neo-vernacularization of South Asian languages
Authors: Annamalai, E.
Issue Date: Jan 2014
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Citation: Annamalai, E. 2014. Death by other means: Neo-vernacularization of South Asian languages. In Hugo C. Cardoso (ed). 2014. Language Endangerment and Preservation in South Asia. 3-18. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
Series/Report no.: LD&C Special Publication
Abstract: Endangerment of a language is assessed by the shrinking number of its speakers and the failure to pass it on to the next generation. This approach views multilingualism in statistical terms. When multilingualism is defined by the functional relationship between languages the meaning of endangerment expands to include functional reduction in languages. This takes place when the economic, political and cultural value of a language comes to near zero. The language may still be spoken inter-generationally, but only for limited in-group communication. Such a language survives, but does not live. This situation can be found even in a language with a large population and official status.
This paper illustrates such a situation with Tamil, a South Asian language. Tamil has a long literary history, is the official language of an Indian state and has political and cultural value. But its lack of economic value makes its speakers consider it a liability in education and for material progress and this restricts it from functioning substantively. Such a language will not die but will become a vernacular. Most Indian regional languages, which were vernaculars in the first millenium when Sanskrit was the dominant language, may become vernaculars again in the third millenium when English is the dominant language.
Sponsor: National Foreign Language Resource Center
ISBN: 978-0-9856211-4-8
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License
Appears in Collections:LD&C Special Publication No. 7: Language Endangerment and Preservation in South Asia

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