The Sustainability of Languages

By James N. Stanford and Lindsay J. Whaley.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The last several decades have seen a rapidly growing body of literature exploring shrinking linguistic diversity around the world and the efforts being undertaken to revive, revitalize or maintain the use of threatened languages. The controlling metaphor in this literature – that languages are species – has given rise to the concept of “endangered languages” and examinations of the link between biodiversity and linguistic diversity. Even so, the discourse of sustainability has not yet permeated this discussion. This paper explores the possibility of seeing languages as cultural resources that can be sustained by developing vibrant linguistic ecologies. We point out the implications of this view, as well as the benefits and obstacles to conceiving of language in this fashion. In this way, we build a framework for meaningful collaboration between the discourses of sustainability and endangered languages.

Keywords: Endangered Languages, Language Vitality, Linguistic Ecology, Evenki

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.111-122. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 610.942KB).

Dr. James N. Stanford

Assistant Professor of Linguistics, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA

Dr. James N. Stanford is Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Cognitive Science at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Dr. Lindsay J. Whaley

Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary and International Studies, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA

Dr. Lindsay J. Whaley is Professor of Linguistics and Classics at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

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