criteria for endangerment (or: what to do instead)

Michael Everson everson at
Sun Dec 8 19:29:16 UTC 1996

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At 16:29 8.12.96, Trond Trosterud wrote:
>I assume that all
>subscribers to this list would agree that, everything else being equal, we
>would prefer a situation where a (to some extent) documented lg with known
>relatives disappear over a situation where an unknown isolat (or
>perhaps-isolat) disappears.

Gulp. Brave of you to say this.

>For us, as linguists, the "worst case", is when the last speakers (of a lg
>without close relatives) dies. But large-scale language shift can as well
>start on million sized languages (the Mordvinian languages of Russia are a
>bad example), and happen more or less simultaneously (and fast). Shifting
>the perspective to the speaker, it is sad to loose the lg of the community,
>even though it is spoken by a Diaspora group some hundred kilometres away.

This happened in Ireland in a short 150 years. There were millions of Irish
speakers. Now there are about a million potential speakers, whether they do
make use of it or not. (I will not rehearse the complex situation here.)
And now the threat of Irish from English is even greater than it was
because of the US/UK media. Fortunately, thanks to the Minister for the
Department of the Arts, Culture, and the Gaeltacht, we now have our own
Irish-language television channel.

Michael Everson, Everson Gunn Teoranta
15 Port Chaeimhghein .ochtarach; Baile .tha Cliath 2; .ire (Ireland)
Guth.n:  +353 1 478-2597, +353 1 283-9396
27 P.rc an Fh.thlinn; Baile an; Co. .tha Cliath; .ire

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