New Perspectives on Endangered Languages

Bridging gaps between sociolinguistics, documentation and language revitalization

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Understanding sociolinguistics as a theoretical and methodological framework hopefully could attempt to promote change and social development in human communities. Yet it still presents important political, epistemological, methodological and theoretical challenges. A sociolinguistics of development, in which the revitalization of linguistic communities is the priority, opens new perspectives for the emerging field of linguistic documentation, in which the societal aspects of research, stressed by sociolinguistics, have frequently been marginal. The need to focus on the documentation of linguistic communities to contribute to the revitalization of these communities requires an in-depth revision of a number of different perspectives. Especially regarding the links between commonly separated fields of enquiry such as sociolinguistics, documentation and revitalization. Instead of creating mere museum pieces of academic contemplation for the future, as has been the major trend up to now in language documentation and even sociolinguistics, there is a growing concern to join forces to revitalize the actual use of endangered languages in order to place languages as a main focus of a community’s development which constitutes a major challenge for both scholars, civil society and speakers alike.

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