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|
Assistant Professor of Linguistics, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA
Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary and International Studies, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA
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