How do you define an endangered language?
Posted by abdul at October 1st, 2015
A language is endangered when its speakers cease to use it, use it in fewer and fewer domains, use fewer of its registers and speaking styles, and/or stop passing it on to the next generation. No single factor determines whether a language is endangered, but UNESCO experts have identified nine that should be considered together:
- Intergenerational language transmission
- Absolute number of speakers
- Proportion of speakers within the total population
- Shifts in domains of language use
- Response to new domains and media
- Availability of materials for language education and literacy
- Governmental and institutional language attitudes and policies including official status and use
- Community members’ attitudes toward their own language
- Amount and quality of documentation
For more information on how these nine factors can be considered, see the report, Language Vitality, of the UNESCO Ad Hoc Expert Group on Endangered Languages (2003).
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