Volume 40, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0272-2690
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9889
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


How to protect language diversity in the world is a hotly discussed topic in linguistic research. This study investigates the relationship between Tibetan language vitality and language users’ identity in Maketang and Huazangsi Tibetan Autonomy County. On the basis of empirical data, the study suggests that there are no strong, positive correlations between Tibetan language vitality and the speakers’ language identity (or with their language activities and inclinations). However, pragmatic matters constitute an important factor that influences speakers’ activities and inclinations. These findings can be explained by conflicting functions performed by language: language as a communication tool on the one hand, and language as a receptacle of culture on the other. Bilingual (or multilingual) education can fulfill a useful role in balancing these two language functions. As a result of the evidence in this study, we argue that language protection cannot preserve both language vitality and language identity, and that, therefore, language protection should pay more attention to issues of language identity rather than to issues of language vitality.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Gorenflo, L.J. , Romaine, S. , Mittermeier, R.A. , & Walker-Painemilla, K
    (2012) Co-occurrence of linguistic and biological diversity in biodiversity hotspots and high biodiversity wilderness areas. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109/21:8032–8037.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Hu Zhuanglin
    (2001) An Introduction to Linguistics. Beijing: Beijing University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Lewis, M.P
    (Ed.) (2009) Ethnologue: Languages of the world (16th ed.). Dallas, Tex.: SIL International.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Lewis, M.P. & Simons, G.F
    (2010) Simons. Assessing Endangerment: Expanding Fishman’s GIDS. Revue Roumaine de Linguistique55/ 2: 103–120.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Phinney, J.S
    (1996) When we talk about American ethnic groups, what do we mean?American Psychologist 51/9: 918–927. doi: 10.1037/0003‑066X.51.9.918
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.51.9.918 [Google Scholar]
  6. The Sixth Plenary Session of the Seventeenth CPC Central Committee
    (2011, October26). The Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Major Issues Pertaining to Deepening Reform of the Cultural System and Promoting the Great Development and Flourishing of Socialist Culture, Renmin Daily (Renmin Ribao). 1–11.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. UNESCO Ad Hoc Expert Group on Endangered Languages
    (2003) Language Vitality and Endangerment. Paris: The International Expert Meeting on UNESCO Programme Safeguarding of Endangered Languages.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Wang Yuanxin
    (2010) Chinese ethnic languages and character, a kind of non-objection culture heritage. In Zhao Xueyi & Guan Kai (Eds.), Chinese Ethnic Non-objection Culture Heritage, Beijing: Minzu Press. 134 - 192.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Yao Chunlin
    (2012) Energetic or Endangered: Case Study on Tibetan Language Use and Attitude in the First Villager Group of Juhua Village, a Tibetan-Chinese Bilingual Community. Chinese Sociolinguistics, 18/2, 63–69.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. (2013a) Case Study on Language Use and Attitude in Maketang Town under Urbanization. Language Research14: 181–189.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. (2013b) How Urbanization Affects the Language Life in Amdo Dialect Region: Case Study on Tibetan Use and Attitude in Huazangsi Town. Journal of the Central University for Nationalities (Philosophy and Social Sciences Edition)6: 153–159.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Zuckermann, G. , & Walsh, M
    (2011) Stop, Revive, Survive!: Lessons from the Hebrew Revival Applicable to the Reclamation, Maintenance and Empowerment of Aboriginal Languages and Cultures. Australian Journal of Linguistics, 31(1), 111–127. doi: 10.1080/07268602.2011.532859
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07268602.2011.532859 [Google Scholar]
  13. Zuckermann, G. , Yao Chunlin , & Jia, Xu
    (2012) Universal Constraints and Mechanisms in the Reclamation and Empowerment of Endangered Languages and Dialects. World Ethno-National Studies, 6, 66–73.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Zuckermann, G. , & Yao, Chunlin
    (2014) Native Title Rights and the Compensation for the Loss of Aboriginal Languages. Journal of Peking University (Philosophy and Social Sciences), 1, 156–163.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Zuckermann, G
    (2009) Hybridity Versus Revivability: Multiple Causation, Forms and Patterns. Journal of Language Contact, 2(2), 40–67. doi: 10.1163/000000009792497788
    https://doi.org/10.1163/000000009792497788 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): bilingual education; functions of language; language identity; language vitality
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error