Languages at the Precipice: Sustainability in a Context of Globalization

By Peter Heffernan.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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

Sustainability is all-encompassing, from the environment to the human condition. Likewise, sustainability begins not only at the macro level with such entities as corporations and governments but also, and perhaps more essentially, with the self and choices made on an ongoing basis.

Like many species of flora and fauna, human languages and their related cultures are becoming extinct at alarming rates. This researcher has studied and is studying the linguistic choices made by academics in their dissemination of their scholarship. In particular, he reviews the practices of applied linguists in this regard. What he has discovered is a paradox and contradiction in the stated mission and actual practice, even in the academic field most dedicated to the promotion of a diversity of languages and the nurturing of intercultural understanding. He concludes that languages are under attack, even from quarters where this might be least expected. Given the uncertain status of so many world languages, he proposes several changes in practice to ward off continuing ‘cruelty to languages’ (and their speakers and keepers of their cultures).

Keywords: Languages, Threat of Extinction, Sustainability, Dissemination Choices

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp.119-132. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 641.818KB).

Dr. Peter Heffernan

Full Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Peter Heffernan is senior professor in Alberta, Canada in his academic discipline. He has been editor of three journals/newsletters during his academic career. He has been recognized both regionally and nationally (in Canada) with major professional awards for his work. He is currently president of the North American Chapter of the UNESCO-affiliated World Council for Curriculum & Instruction. He completed his PhD at the French-speaking Universite Laval in Quebec , Canada, with work on the potential transformative nature of cultural inputs experienced by youngsters studying in Canadian French immersion programs. In the years since, his work has focussed steadily on cultural sustainability issues pertaining to second-language study and leadership in the second-language professional arena.


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