More than Words: Towards a Development-Based Approach to Language Revitalization

Date
2014-03
Authors
Henderson, Brent
Rohloff, Peter
Henderson, Robert
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University of Hawaii Press
Volume
8
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75
Ending Page
91
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Abstract
Existing models for language revitalization focus almost exclusively on language learning and use. While recognizing the value of these models, we argue that their effective application is largely limited to situations in which languages have low numbers of speakers. For languages that are rapidly undergoing language shift, but which still maintain large vital communities of speakers, a model for revitalization is currently lacking. We offer the beginnings of such a model here, arguing that in these communities doing language revitalization must primarily mean addressing the causes of language shift, a task that we argue can be undertaken in collaborative efforts with social development organizations. The model contrasts strongly (though complementarily) with existing models in that it focuses on work in which explicitly language-focused activities are undertaken only as intentional support for social development projects. Where successful, we argue this approach achieves language revitalization goals in organic and sustainable ways that are much more difficult for language-focused programs to achieve. It therefore has the potential to stop and potentially reverse language shift in specific ways. We offer our experiences with Wuqu’ Kawoq|Maya Health Alliance, a healthcare NGO in Guatemala, which attempts to follow this model, as evidence for the model’s viability.
Description
Keywords
Language Revitalization, Guatemala, Healthcare, Kaqchikel
Citation
Henderson, Brent, Peter Rohloff, and Robert Henderson. 2014. More than Words: Towards a Development-Based Approach to Language Revitalization. Language Documentation & Conservation. 8:75-91
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17
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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported
Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States
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