Language vitality and revitalization in the Arctic

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A prime case study for exploring the potentially conflicting agendas of language documentation and revitalization is Evenki, a Tungusic language spoken by approximately 5000 people living in small villages scattered throughout much of Siberia. Historically the Evenki people were nomadic herders and hunters, moving across vast regions in Siberia. As a result, there is significant dialect variation in what remains of Evenki today. This variation, coupled with attrition, poses significant issues for language documenters and language activists committed to revitalization. The present paper examines the use of Evenki in two distinct regions to investigate how practices in documentation and revitalization can mutually inform one another, with a focus on the role of sociolinguistics in determining possible outcomes. Keywords: Language endangerment in Siberia; Evenki; language activism; interface between language documentation; education and revitalization


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