Disclaimer:There’s actually nothing offensive or politically  incorrect about this     presentation.      How boring.     ...
Overview1. The standard story2. Question the received wisdom3. Reach the same conclusionsWhy bother with this exercise?0 C...
The Received Story0 Originally 10,000                0 Responses:  languages4                                      0 Docum...
100,000,0    10,000,00               2,014   1,038                                   00 to 999,   0 to 99,99              ...
Endangered     Languages3  3,167 currently endangered                               6
Language       Vitality 9         4%              9%                          Extinct since 1950                   10%    ...
Language                  Vitality 9                 4%                        9%                                    Extin...
Why worry about language        death?0 Value to linguistic science0 Irreplacable cultural heritage0 Loss of indigenous kn...
A Closer Look at Language          Death“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”               ...
The Original Languages                      ante 8,000 BC0 Neolithic population estimate: 10 million90 Hunter-gathering ca...
NSW Department of Education and Communities:                                12http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.g...
0 Question: Languages or dialect continuum?0 Question: Can we meaningfully compare language statistics from today to the P...
The Agrarian Revolution                   8,000 – 5,000 BC0 Sedentary lifestyle supports larger communities0 Languages gro...
0 Question: Is language death a modern phenomenon?0 Question: Are the causes of language death today compared to in early ...
Counting Languages0 What’s a language?  0 Mutual intelligibility                                             L1           ...
Counting Languages0 What’s a language?  0 Mutual intelligibility                             L1                           ...
Counting Languages0 What’s a language?  0 Mutual intelligibility                                                 L1  0 Pol...
Counting Languages0 What’s a speaker?          0 Are the numbers  0 Cultural knowledge =      accurate?5    linguistic kno...
Ecological Metaphors0 Originally 10,000              0 Responses:  languages                         0 Document them befor...
Ecological Metaphors0 Language death / extinction0 Competition0 Language ecologies0 Preservation / revitalization0 Questio...
Language & Ecology0 Clear correlation between linguistic and biological  diversity160 Language ecology – relationship betw...
23
0 Question: Are the causes of language death and biological extinction the same?0 Question: Are the metaphors of language ...
0 Question: Languages naturally change and differentiate from each other over time. Is the rate of linguistic diversificat...
Language Birth                                   0 Chinglish (China)0 Pidgins and creoles                                 ...
Hunting for the Roots of the      Language Shift0 Question: How true are the following statements?   0 ‘Indigenous languag...
Overt and Covert Causes0 Natural catastrophes   0 Linguistic nationalism0 War and genocide       0 Economic conditions0 La...
0 Question: How is language shift in autochthonous communities similar or different to language shift in immigrant communi...
How should we respond?0 “Let them die in           0 “it is most urgent to  peace.”11                    document language...
Subjectivity and Language0 Question: Is the value of language objective or subjective? (Note: subjective ≠ arbitrary)0 Que...
Conclusion0 Language endangerment is complicated.   0 (Sorry if you were hoping for a straightforward     conclusion.)0 Ov...
Contact Information                Daniel W. Hieber                  Rosetta Stone            dhieber@rosettastone.comSlid...
Further Reading0 EndangeredLanguages.com0 Dying Words by Nicholas Evans0 When Languages Die by K. David Harrison0 ‘Why do ...
Sources1.    Boynton, Jessica. 2011. The cost of language mobilisation. SSILA Summer Meeting, Boulder, CO.2.    Crystal, D...
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Language Death
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The Politically Incorrect Guide to Language Death

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  • Revitalization efforts – Patwa; outsourcing education of one’s children
  • The Politically Incorrect Guide to Language Death

    1. 1. Disclaimer:There’s actually nothing offensive or politically incorrect about this presentation. How boring. 2
    2. 2. Overview1. The standard story2. Question the received wisdom3. Reach the same conclusionsWhy bother with this exercise?0 Conclusion: Language shift is complicated. Overly simplistic representations don’t give us the insights we need to address the issue. 3
    3. 3. The Received Story0 Originally 10,000 0 Responses: languages4 0 Document them before0 6,909 living languages they die out left10 0 Revitalization and0 50% - 90% of those will go extinct by 210014, 7 reclamation programs0 (Some) causes: 0 Government support for 0 Globalization endangered languages 0 Technology 0 Overt political repression 0 Cultural dominance 4
    4. 4. 100,000,0 10,000,00 2,014 1,038 00 to 999, 0 to 99,99 0% 0% 999,999 9,999 1,824 339 0% 1% 1% 1 to 9 1,000,000 0% 2% to 9,999,895 133 10 to 99 9995% 5% 5% 0% 100,000 t 304 100 to 99 o 999,999 16% 9 13% 8 16% 39% 77 10,000 to 1,000 to 9 99,999 39% ,999 28% 30% Languages as % of World Languages by Speaker Population10 Population10 5
    5. 5. Endangered Languages3 3,167 currently endangered 6
    6. 6. Language Vitality 9 4% 9% Extinct since 1950 10% Severely endangered Critically endangered Vulnerable57% 10% Definitely endangered Safe or data-deficient 11% 7
    7. 7. Language Vitality 9 4% 9% Extinct since 1950 10% Severely endangered Critically endangered ??? VulnerableData-deficient 10% Definitely endangered Safe Data-deficient 11% ??? Safe 8
    8. 8. Why worry about language death?0 Value to linguistic science0 Irreplacable cultural heritage0 Loss of indigenous knowledge about the world0 Loss of indigenous perspectives on the world0 Loss of cultural identity0 Concommitant decline in biodiversity0 Language as a human right0 Benefits of mother tongue education and bilingualism0 Language death is happening faster now than before 9
    9. 9. A Closer Look at Language Death“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” ~ Mark Twain 10
    10. 10. The Original Languages ante 8,000 BC0 Neolithic population estimate: 10 million90 Hunter-gathering can only support small communities 0 Constant fracturing of groups into new branches 0 Each group speaks a slightly different language variety0 Received wisdom: 0 < ~500 – 1,000 speakers per language7 0 ~ 5,000 – 20,000 languages as of 10,000 y.a. 11
    11. 11. NSW Department of Education and Communities: 12http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/shared/abmaps/nations.htm
    12. 12. 0 Question: Languages or dialect continuum?0 Question: Can we meaningfully compare language statistics from today to the Paleolithic? 13
    13. 13. The Agrarian Revolution 8,000 – 5,000 BC0 Sedentary lifestyle supports larger communities0 Languages grow and crowd each other out / absorb other speaker communities0 Received wisdom: 0 Languages have been continuously on the decline0 Decrease in # of languages offset by population explosion70 Earliest instance of urbanization0 Renfew-Bellwood Effect – decrease in deep-level diversity, i.e. the number of language families7 14
    14. 14. 0 Question: Is language death a modern phenomenon?0 Question: Are the causes of language death today compared to in early history different in kind or simply degree? Is language death today a fundamentally different phenomenon? 15
    15. 15. Counting Languages0 What’s a language? 0 Mutual intelligibility L1 L2 Dialect chain L3 L4 L5 16
    16. 16. Counting Languages0 What’s a language? 0 Mutual intelligibility L1 L2 L3 L4 L5 17
    17. 17. Counting Languages0 What’s a language? 0 Mutual intelligibility L1 0 Politics 0 Chinese L2 0 Serbo-Croation L3 = L1 or L2? 0 Language attitudes L3 0 Scandanavian languages L4 L5 18
    18. 18. Counting Languages0 What’s a speaker? 0 Are the numbers 0 Cultural knowledge = accurate?5 linguistic knowledge 0 Self-reporting 0 Do younger speakers count? 0 Out-of-date data 0 Knowledge of 0 Under-reporting quotes, proverbs 0 Australian Native Title1 0 Do outsiders count? 0 Over-reporting 0 Linguists? 0 A few phrases = speaker 0 Non-ethnic community members? 19
    19. 19. Ecological Metaphors0 Originally 10,000 0 Responses: languages 0 Document them before0 6,909 living languages left they die out0 50% - 90% of those will go 0 Revitalization and extinct by 2100 reclamation programs0 (Some) causes: 0 Government support for 0 Globalization endangered languages 0 Technology 0 Overt political repression 0 Cultural dominance 20
    20. 20. Ecological Metaphors0 Language death / extinction0 Competition0 Language ecologies0 Preservation / revitalization0 Question: Are languages like organisms? How so? Why not?0 Question: Which of these metaphors are useful? In what ways? 21
    21. 21. Language & Ecology0 Clear correlation between linguistic and biological diversity160 Language ecology – relationship between languages and the people who speak them5, 6 0 Strong version – theory of language competition130 Ecolinguistics – branch of language ecology5 0 Discounts notion of competition 0 Focus on connection between language and their ‘habitat’ or social, political, and economic contexts 22
    22. 22. 23
    23. 23. 0 Question: Are the causes of language death and biological extinction the same?0 Question: Are the metaphors of language competition and ecologies useful? Or do they obscure the issues?0 Question: Do languages compete/die/have habitats, or do speakers do, or both?0 Question: What terminology could we use that might more accurately represent these phenomena?0 Question: Do you think any of the terminology we’ve discussed is offensive or denigrating? 24
    24. 24. 0 Question: Languages naturally change and differentiate from each other over time. Is the rate of linguistic diversification equal to the rate of language shift / death?0 Question: Should we distinguish different types of diversity? What types?0 Question: Will dying languages be replaced by new ones? Will the rate of replacement equal the rate of extinction? 25
    25. 25. Language Birth 0 Chinglish (China)0 Pidgins and creoles 0 Singlish (Singapore)0 Revitalized languages 0 Sheng (Nairobi) 0 ol (Brazil)0 Linguistic diversification 0 Latin > 0 Nubi (Arabic: Kenya) Spanish, Catalan, Corsic 0 Afrikaans (S. Africa) an, French, Italian, Galici 0 Gullah (S.E. U.S. coast) an, Mozarabic, Occitan, 0 Krio (Sierra Leone) 0 Kreyol (Liberia) Portugese, Romansh 0 Hatian Creole (Haiti)0 Regular processes of 0 Patwa (Dominica) historical change 0 Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) 26
    26. 26. Hunting for the Roots of the Language Shift0 Question: How true are the following statements? 0 ‘Indigenous languages are dying because they can’t express concepts needed for the modern world.’ 0 ‘Indigenous languages are dying because they’re some of the most complex and hardest to learn.’0 Question: What is globalization? 0 Is globalization a cause or a result of language shift, or both? 0 How can globalization actually support linguistic diversity? 27
    27. 27. Overt and Covert Causes0 Natural catastrophes 0 Linguistic nationalism0 War and genocide 0 Economic conditions0 Language policy 0 Political autonomy0 Compulsory education 0 Language attitudes and associations 0 Revitalization efforts? 0 Technology? 28
    28. 28. 0 Question: How is language shift in autochthonous communities similar or different to language shift in immigrant communities?0 Question: Which is more important for understanding language shift – the language a person speaks, or the language they teach their children? 29
    29. 29. How should we respond?0 “Let them die in 0 “it is most urgent to peace.”11 document languages before they disappear”70 “It is paternalistic of 0 “our global village must linguists to assume that be truly multicultural they know what is best and multilingual, or it for the community.”8 will not exist at all.”140 “Patwa is keeping back 0 “Language death is a the children.”15 terrible loss, to all who come into contact with it”5 30
    30. 30. Subjectivity and Language0 Question: Is the value of language objective or subjective? (Note: subjective ≠ arbitrary)0 Question: Are languages mutually exclusive? Are they even in direct competition? 31
    31. 31. Conclusion0 Language endangerment is complicated. 0 (Sorry if you were hoping for a straightforward conclusion.)0 Overly simplistic representations don’t give us the insights we need to actually address the issue.0 A great deal more research needs to be done in understanding the precise causes of language shift, so that communities can best address this phenomenon in the way that is most appropriate for them. 32
    32. 32. Contact Information Daniel W. Hieber Rosetta Stone dhieber@rosettastone.comSlides and other presentations available on website: www.danielhieber.com 33
    33. 33. Further Reading0 EndangeredLanguages.com0 Dying Words by Nicholas Evans0 When Languages Die by K. David Harrison0 ‘Why do languages die?’ by Daniel W. Hieber 34
    34. 34. Sources1. Boynton, Jessica. 2011. The cost of language mobilisation. SSILA Summer Meeting, Boulder, CO.2. Crystal, David. 2000. Language Death. Cambridge University Press.3. Endangered Languages. 2012. The Linguist List at Eastern Michigan University and The University of Hawaii at Manoa. http://www.endangeredlanguages.com4. Evans, Nicholas. 2010. Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us. Wiley- Blackwell.5. Grenoble, Lenore A. 2011. Language ecology and endangerment. In Peter K. Austin & Julia Sallabank (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Endangered Languages. 27-45. Cambridge University Press.6. Haugen, Einar. 1972. The Ecology of Language: Essays by Einar Haugen. Stanford University Press.7. Krauss, Michael E. 1992. The world’s languages in crisis. Language 68(1): 4-10.8. Ladefoged, Peter. 1992. Another view of endangered languages. Language 68(4): 809-811.9. Lee, R. B. & I. DeVore (eds.). 1968. Man the Hunter. Aldine.10. Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 16th edn. SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com11. Malik, Kenan. 2000. Let them die. Prospect, November. Online version: http://www.kenanmalik.com/essays/die.html12. Moseley, Christopher (ed.). 2010. Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, 3rd edn. UNESCO. Online version: http://www.unesco.org/culture/languages-atlas/en/atlasmap.html13. Mufwene, Salikoko S. 2001. The Ecology of Language Evolution (Cambridge Approaches to Language Contact). Cambridge University Press.14. Nettle, Daniel & Suzanne Romaine. 2000. Vanishing Voices: The Extinction of the World’s Languages. Oxford University Press.15. Paugh, Amy L. 2012. Playing with Languages: Children and Change in a Caribbean Village. Berghahn Books.16. Sutherland, William J. 2003. Parallel extinction risk and global distribution of languages and species. Nature 423: 276-9. 35

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