Sustaining Linguistic Diversity

Endangered and Minority Languages and Language Varieties

Kendall A. King, Natalie Schilling-Estes, Lyn Fogle, Jia Jackie Lou, and Barbara Soukup, Editors

"[The] diversity of the material, the inclusion of plenty of varied linguistic data, tables and charts, and the range of viewpoints offered make this a refreshing book that will be enjoyed and valued by many."
+ Add to Cart Preorder


Request Print Exam Copy

Request Digital Exam Copy

In the last three decades the field of endangered and minority languages has evolved rapidly, moving from the initial dire warnings of linguists to a swift increase in the number of organizations, funding programs, and community-based efforts dedicated to documentation, maintenance, and revitalization. Sustaining Linguistic Diversity brings together cutting-edge theoretical and empirical work from leading researchers and practitioners in the field. Together, these contributions provide a state-of-the-art overview of current work in defining, documenting, and developing the world's smaller languages and language varieties.

The book begins by grappling with how we define endangerment—how languages and language varieties are best classified, what the implications of such classifications are, and who should have the final say in making them. The contributors then turn to the documentation and description of endangered languages and focus on best practices, methods and goals in documentation, and on current field reports from around the globe. The latter part of the book analyzes current practices in developing endangered languages and dialects and particular language revitalization efforts and outcomes in specific locations. Concluding with critical calls from leading researchers in the field to consider the human lives at stake, Sustaining Linguistic Diversity reminds scholars, researchers, practitioners, and educators that linguistic diversity can only be sustained in a world where diversity in all its forms is valued.

Table of Contents

Kendall A. King, Natalie Schilling-Estes, Lyn Fogle, Jia Jackie Lou, and Barbara Soukup


1. Linguistic Diversity, Sustainability, and the Future of the Past
Suzanne Romaine

2. When is an "Extinct Language" Not Extinct? Miami, a Formerly Sleeping Language
Wesley Y. Leonard

3. Evaluating Endangerment: Proposed Metadata and Implementation
M. Paul Lewis


4. Endangered Language Varieties: Vernacular Speech and Linguistic Standardization in Brazilian Portuguese
Gregory R. Guy and Ana M.S. Zilles

5. The Linguistic Negotiation of Complex Racialized Identities by Black Appalachian Speakers
Christine Mallinson

6. Working at "9 to 5" Gaelic: Speakers, Context, and Ideologies of an Emerging Minority Language Register
Emily McEwan-Fujita

7. Voice and Biliteracy in Indigenous Language Revitalization: Contentious Educational Practices in Quechua, Guarani, and Maori Contexts
Nancy H. Hornberger


8. Endangering Language Vitality through Institutional Development: Ideology, Authority, and Official Standard Irish in the Gaeltacht
Tadhg Ó hIfearnáin

9. Scandinavian Minority Language Policies in Transition: The Impact of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in Norway and Sweden
Leena Huss

10. Language Development in Eritrea: The Case of Blin
Paul D. Fallon

11. Indigenous Language Policies in Social Practice: The Case of Navajo
Teresa L. McCarty, Mary Eunice Romero-Little, and Ofelia Zepeda

12. Heritage Language Education in the United States: A Need to Reconceptualize and Restructure
Joy Kreeft Peyton, Maria Carreira, Shuhan Wang, and Terrence G. Wiley

13. Language Diversity and the Public Interest
Walt Wolfram


14. At What Cost? Methods of Language Revival and Protection: Examples from Hebrew
Elana Shohamy

15. Unendangered Dialects, Endangered People
William Labov



"Sustaining Linguistic Diversity is an excellent contribution to the growing literature dealing with language endangerment. It provides a thoughtful and reflective approach not only to the overarching questions related to language endangerment, but also in-depth analysis of a number of challenging and often puzzling case studies. This is a book that any serious applied linguist ought to read."—Language Problems and Language Planning

"[The] diversity of the material, the inclusion of plenty of varied linguistic data, tables and charts, and the range of viewpoints offered make this a refreshing book that will be enjoyed and valued by many."—Journal of Sociolinguistics

"The authors provide a visionary glimpse into the linguistic future of humanity, and offer some well-tested strategies to secure language diversity for future generations."—K. David Harrison, assistant professor, Department of Linguistics, Swarthmore College and director of research, Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages

"Once again, a Georgetown Round Table [volume] manages to summarize the state of the art of an important field of linguistics, consolidate our understanding, present fresh data, and suggest lines for future research and theory. Many of the [chapters] in this volume will become classics in the study of endangered languages and the underlying causes of language loss and maintenance."—Bernard Spolsky, professor emeritus, Bar-Ilan University


Maria Carreira, California State University, Long Beach Paul D. Fallon, University of Mary Washington Lyn Fogle, Georgetown University Gregory R. Guy, New York University Nancy H. Hornberger, University of Pennsylvania Leena Huss, Uppsala University Kendall A. King, Georgetown University William Labov, University of Pennsylvania Wesley Y. Leonard, University of California, Berkeley M. Paul Lewis, SIL International Jia Jackie Lou, Georgetown University Christine Mallinson, University of Maryland, Baltimore County Teresa L. McCarty, Arizona State University Emily McEwan-Fujita, University of Pittsburgh Tadhg Ó hIfearnáin, University of Limerick Suzanne Romaine, Merton College, University of Oxford Mary Eunice Romero-Little, Arizona State University Joy Kreeft Peyton, Center for Applied Linguistics Natalie Schilling-Estes, Georgetown University Elana Shohamy, Tel Aviv University Barbara Soukup, Georgetown University Shuhan Wang, Delaware Department of Education Terrence G. Wiley, Arizona State University Walt Wolfram, North Carolina State University Ofelia Zepeda, University of Arizona Ana M. S. Zilles, Unisinos

Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Kendall A. King is an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University. She is author of Language Revitalization Processes and Prospects and coeditor of the Encyclopedia of Language and Education, Volume 10.

Natalie Schilling-Estes is an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University. She is coauthor of American English: Dialects and Variation and coeditor of the Handbook of Language Variation and Change.

Lyn Fogle, Jia Jackie Lou, and Barbara Soukup are doctoral students in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University.

246 pp., 6 x 9

Mar 2008

246 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-58901-192-2
Mar 2008

246 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-416-9
Mar 2008

Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics series

Related Titles