Can a dead or dying language by revived?
There are currently 7, 102 living languages (Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig) in the world. At one time there were upwards of 10,000 living languages (Hieber, D.). According to some estimates (Hieber) between 50 and 60 percent of the current languages will be extinct by 2100. However, languages can be revived.
Fishman’s eight stages (Reyhner):
|Current Status||Suggested Interventions to Strengthen Language|
|Stage 8: Only a||Implement Hinton’s (1994) “Language Apprentice” Model|
|few elders speak||where fluent elders are teamed one-on-one with young adults|
|the language.||who want to learn the language. Dispersed, isolated elders|
|can be connected by phone to teach others the language (Taff, 1997).|
|Stage 7: Only adults||Establish “Language Nests” after the Maori and Hawaiian,|
|beyond child bearing||models where fluent older adults provide pre-school child-|
|age speak the language.||care where children are immersed in their indigenous|
|language (Anonby, this volume; Fishman, 1991).|
|Stage 6: Some inter-||Develop places in community where language is encouraged,|
|generational use of||protected, and used exclusively. Encourage more young|
|language.||parents to speak the indigenous language in home with and|
|around their young children.|
|Stage 5: Language is||Offer literacy in minority language. Promote voluntary|
|still very much alive||programs in the schools and other community institutions to|
|and used in community.||improve the prestige and use of the language. Use language in|
|local government functions, especially social services. Give|
|recognition to special local efforts through awards, etc.|
|Stage 4: Language is||Improve instructional methods utilizing TPR (Asher, 1996),|
|required in elementary||TPR-Storytelling (Cantoni, this volume) and other|
|schools.||immersion teaching techniques. Teach reading and writing|
|and higher level language skills (Heredia & Francis, 1997).|
|Develop two-way bilingual programs where appropriate|
|where non-speaking elementary students learn the|
|indigenous language and speakers learn a national or inter-|
|national language. Need to develop indigenous language text-|
|books to teach literacy and academic subject matter content.|
|Stage 3: Language is||Promote language by making it the language of work used|
|used in places of||throughout the community (Palmer, 1997). Develop|
|business and by||vocabulary so that workers in an office could do their day-|
|employees in less||to-day work using their indigenous language (Anonby,|
|specialized work areas.||this volume)|
|Stage 2: Language is||Promote use of written form of language for government and|
|used by local govern-||business dealings/records. Promote indigenous language|
|ment and in the mass||newsletters, newspapers, radio stations, and television|
|media in the||stations.|
|Stage 1: Some language||Teach tribal college subject matter classes in the language.|
|use by higher levels of||Develop an indigenous language oral and written literature|
|government and in||through dramatic presentations and publications. Give tribal/|
|higher education.||national awards for indigenous language publications and|
|other notable efforts to promote indigenous languages.|
There are ways to revive a dead language but are there success stories? Yes.
Hebrew is the best example, it had no native speakers until it was revived (Kaufman). Cornish, Irish, and Welsh have also been somewhat revived.
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Kaufman, J. (2005). The Revival of the Hebrew Language. Retrieved from http://www.jefftk.com/final-papers/revival/revival.pdf.
Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2015. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Eighteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com.
Reyhner, J. (2003). Some Basics of Indigenous Language Revitalization. Retrieved from http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~jar/RIL_Intro.html.