Language Revitalization

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Jun 11 12:58:44 UTC 2002

Forwarded from LINGUIST List 13.1638
Mon Jun 10 2002

Hinton Leanne, and Ken Hale, eds. (2001)
The Green Book of Language Revitalization in Practice.
Academic Press, xvii+450pp, paperback ISBN 0-12-349354-4

Book Announcement on Linguist:

Reviewed by Paulina Jaenecke, doctoral student at the Freie Universitaet


The Green Book on Language Revitalization is a book on the different
aspects of language revitalization. The book is a collection of papers
written by people actively involved in language revitalization projects.
Although the focus is on North American indigenous languages, examples
from other countries are included in the book.

The book is meant as a reference for individuals and communities, that are
interested in the revitalization of an endangered language. It is aimed at
readers without a background in linguistic theory.


The book contains 33 chapters which are divided into 9 parts. It also
contains 16 introductions to the languages mentioned in the articles and
maps to show the geographic location of the languages.


Chapter 1: Language Revitalization by Leanne Hinton In this chapter Hinton
gives an general overview of the field of language revitalization and the
methods that can be used to revitalize a language.

Chapter 2: Diversity in Local Language Maintenance and Restoration: A
Reason for Optimism, by Anna Ash, Jessie Little Doe Fermino and Ken Hale
The authors analyse the success of language revitalization efforts for
four different languages: Lardil (Australia), Tuahka (Nicaragua),
Wampanoag (USA) and Irish (Ireland). They see reason for optimism because
of and because of the independence of these movements. This independence
means that the movements are adapted to the local situation and
circumstances, which indicates that people are struggling to protect


Chapter 3: Federal Language Policy and Indigenous Languages in the United
States, by Leanne Hinton In this chapter Hinton gives an overview of US
language policies in the United States especially those affecting native
American languages.

Chapter 4 To Help Assure the Survival and Continuing Vitality of Native
American Languages, by Robert D. Arnold In this chapter, Arnold, a member
of the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, relates how the Native
American Languages Act of 1992 was passed. He gives an overview of the
different steps and the opinions taken into account when policies are


Chapter 5: Language Planning, by Leanne Hinton Hinton explains what
language planning is and gives a step by step guide to language planning.
She also cites two case studies of language planning, the Karuk Language
Restoration Committee and the Yurok Language Committee. She emphasizes the
opinion that planning should help and not hinder revitalisation projects.

EXCURSUS: Introduction to the Pueblo Languages, by Leanne Hinton

Chapter 6: Native Language Planning, by Christine P. Sims As an example of
native American language planning, the efforts of the Acoma Pueblo
community are introduced. In this community, summer immersion camps for
children were planned and carried out with the community as a basis for
support of the program.

Chapter 7: The Key to Cultural Survival, by Regis Pecos and Rebecca
Blum-Martinez In the last twenty years, the Pueblo de Cochiti has
experienced language shift from Cochiti Keres to English. Although the
traditional lifestyle is valued and connected to the use of Keres, outside
influences like the building of a dam and flooding Cochiti land and the
plan to establish a resortlike community on the land threaten cultural
survival. In order to stop language shift, activities to support Keres,
like language classes and a summer camp for children were planned and
carried out by community members.

EXCURSUS: The Navajo Language I, by Ken Hale

Chapter 8: Navajo Head Start Language Study, by Paul Platero Navajo
Linguist Paul Platero studied the use of Navajo and the support that
Navajo speaking children received in typical Navajo Kindergarten. He gives
recommendations on how to improve the kindergarten setting for encouraging
the use of Navajo.


Chapter 9: Introduction to Revitalization of National Indigenous
Languages, by Leanne Hinton National Minority Languages e.g. Welsh, Irish,
Maori, differ from indigenous languages of small communities in some
aspects: they have a historical or potential role in governance. National
minority language communities also face the problem of language shift,
mostly because of imperialism. Although the situation of national minority
languages differs from that of local minority languages, the language
maintenance projects can offer stimulating ideas for local minority

EXCURSUS: Introduction to the Welsh Language, by Leanne Hinton

Chapter 10: Welsh, by Gerald Morgan In this chapter Morgan analyses the
success of Welsh language maintenance efforts, with special emphasis on
the role of the school.

EXCURSUS: Introduction to the Maori Language, by Ken Hale

Chapter 11: Te Kohanga Reo, by Jeanette King In this chapter Jeanette King
introduces the Te Kohanga Reo, a Maori language revitalization approach.
In so-called "language nests" children are raised in an Maori-speaking
environment. This early childhood immersion program has grown over the
years and led to the introduction of Maori-Medium schools.

EXCURSUS: An Introduction to the Hawaiian Language, by Leanne Hinton

Chapter 12: The Movement to Revitalize Hawaiian Language and Culture, by
Sam L. No'eau Warner This chapter describes the situation of Hawaiian
today and the language revitalization measures that have been tried.

Chapter 13: Mai Loko Mai O Ka 'I'ini: Proceeding from a Dream, by William
H. Wilson and Kauanoe Kamana. This chapter describes the 'Aha Punana Leo,
a Hawaii organization that tries to re-establish Hawaiian as the daily
language of communication. The 'Aha Punana Leo has been quite successful
in creating a place for Hawaiian in the educational sector.


Chapter 14: Teaching Methods, by Leanne Hinton This chapter gives an
overview of different teaching methods. Hinton advises the immersion
method as the best method for learning and teaching a language, but gives
some advice for teaching when immersion is not possible. Hinton also gives
some practical advice on teaching methods and lesson planning and provides
a sample lesson on clothing.

EXCURSUS: The Karuk Language, by Leanne Hinton

Chapter 15: Teaching Well, Learning Quickly, by Terry Supahan and Sarah
Supahan In this chapter the authors explain how they teach Karuk with the
communication-based language instruction approach and how to plan a lesson
using the five step lesson plan.

EXCURSUS: The Navajo Language II, by Ken Hale

Chapter 16: Tsehootsooidi Olta'gi Dine Bizaad Bihoo'aah, by Marie Arviso
and Wayne Holm Two of the founders of the Navajo immersion program at Fort
Defiance give a report on how they started the immersion program for
kindergarten children. The project tried to improve academic abilities of
Navaho children by developing academic Navajo abilities. They give an
account of the methods used and the problems they encountered.

Chapter 17: The Master-Apprentice Language Learning Program, by Leanne
Hinton The Master-Apprentice Language Learning Program was developed in
California, where there are many indigenous languages with very few
speakers. In order to pass on those languages, the Master-Apprentice
approach puts together a speaker of a language (Master) and a learner
(Apprentice). This approach trains the communicative skills of the
learner, because only the target language is allowed as a means of
communication. After a method-training session learning takes places in a
natural setting during day to day activities, in an one-to-one setting.
The program has been successful, some of the former apprentices now work
as language teachers themselves.

Chapter 18: Linguistic Aspects of Language Teaching and Learning in
Immersion Contexts, by Ken Hale
Hale gives examples of how grammatical structures can be taught in
immersion class settings.


Chapter 19: New Writing Systems, by Leanne Hinton In this overview Hinton
discusses the pros and cons of having a writing system. She also describes
the steps in developing a writing system and cites some case studies of
how communities have made their decision about a writing system.

EXCURSUS: An Introduction to Paiute, by Leanne Hinton and Ken Hale

Chapter 20: Language Revitalization in the San Juan Paiute Community and
the Role of a Paiute Constitution, by Pamela Bunte and Robert Franklin
This chapter describes the attempts to raise awareness and pride by the
translation of the Paiute constitution into Paiute and thus to reduce
language shift.


Chapter 21: Audio-video Documentation, by Leanne Hinton In this chapter
Hinton gives some basic information on using modern technology to document
a language. She discusses the pros and cons and emphasizes that although
recording a language is important, it alone does not save a language.

EXCURSUS: Australian Languages, by Ken Hale

Chapter 22: Strict Locality in Local Language Media, by Ken Hale This
chapter describes how the Walpiri of Australia make use of modern media,
but shape it in accordance with traditional narrative styles.

Chapter 23: Reflections on the Arapaho Language Project, or When Bambi
Spoke Arapaho and Other Tales of Arapaho Language Revitalization Efforts,
by Stephen Greymorning Greymorning tells of his language revitalization
efforts for Arapaho. Besides starting an immersion class project, he asked
permission to dub the Disney movie Bambi into Arapaho. He worked out the
translation and the film was successfully synchronized and shown and
distributed in the community.

EXCURSUS: Irish, by Ken Hale

Chapter 24: Continuity and Vitality, by Colleen Cotter This chapter
describes two Irish radio stations that work with different methods with
the common goal to help language maintenance.

EXCURSUS: The Mono Language, by Ken Hale

Chapter 25: On Using Multimedia in Language Renewal, by Paul Kroskrity und
Jennifer Reynolds The authors of this chapter report on the making of a
CD- Rom for learning the Mono language of California.

Chapter 26: Can The Web Help Save My Language?, by Laura Buszard-Welcher
Buszard-Welcher analyses websites dedicated to endangered Native American
languages and evaluates the possibilities the web offers for the
revitalization of endangered languages.


Chapter 27: Training People to Train Their Language, by Leanne Hinton
Hinton emphasizes the difference of teaching a foreign language or
teaching a language to immigrants versus the teaching a minority language.
One major difficulty in teaching a indigenous minority language is that
the speakers of the language are rarely trained as teachers for the
minority language.

EXCURSUS: Inuttut and Innu-aimun, by Ken Hale

Chapter 28: The Role of the University in the Training of Native Language
Teachers, by Alana Jones and Irene Mazurkewich This chapter describes the
development of a program for training native speakers of Inuttut and
Innu-aimun as teachers in Labrador.

EXCURSUS: Languages of Arizona, Southern California, and Oklahoma, by
Leanne Hinton

Chapter 29: Indigenous Educators as Change Agents, by Teresa McCarty,
Lucille Watahomigie, Akira Yamamoto and Ofelia Zepeda In this chapter, two
native American language institutes, AILDI (American Indian Language
Development Institute) and ONLA (Oklahoma Native Language Association
Workshop) / ONALDI (Oklahoma Native American Language Development
Institute) are introduced. In these institutes, native American teachers
learn how to put indigenous knowledge into the curriculum.

EXCURSUS: The Navajo Language III, by Ken Hale

Chapter 30: Promoting Advanced Navajo Language Scholarship, by Clay Slate
This chapter gives an overview on the on the Dine College's Navajo
Language Programs supporting Navajo scholarship by Navajos for Navajo's


Chapter 31: Sleeping Languages - Can they be awakened?, by Leanne Hinton
Languages that are not spoken any longer are often called dead languages,
or moribund, if they have few speakers left. Hinton prefers the term
"sleeping languages". In this chapter, Hinton describes the efforts to
revive some of these languages and how this can be done.

Chapter 32: The Use of Linguistic Archives in Language Revitalization, by
Leanne Hinton For four years the Native California Language Restoration
Workshop has been held at the University of California, Berkeley. In this
workshop, people who are interested in their "sleeping" ancestral language
learn how to make use of the resources available.

EXCURSUS: The Ohlone Language, by Leanne Hinton

Chapter 33: New Life for a Lost Language, by Linda Yamane Yamane tells of
her process of learning and reconstructing her ancestral language, Rumsien
by means of Harrington's field notes.


This book is about the efforts to stop shift and revitalize a language.
This is a positive change, because a lot of books on endangered languages
place the focus on language shift. All the authors in the book are
interested in language maintenance and language revitalization. Most of
the authors are actively working in language revitalization projects. They
had an idea about how to revitalise their language and tried it in the
field. They share their expertise with the reader and write about both
their positive and negative experiences. All the authors share an
enthusiasm for their work and a love for the languages they work with,
which becomes clear when one reads the articles. (and I can only render
their passionate accounts inadequately) The scope of the authors'
activities vary widely. Linda Yamane is trying to reconstruct her
ancestral language by herself, while in Marie Arviso and Wayne Holm set up
an immersion programs for Navajo children that has been working for 16
years.  The book provides those readers interested in reviving their
ancestral language with ideas what they can actually do and how to go
about it. It becomes clear, when reading the book that one person's effort
can really make a difference. Some of the advice given is very practical,
for example chapters 14 and 15 contain sample lessons for preparing a
language class, while others are more theoretical in nature, like the
article on Irish-language radio. Few technical terms are used and little
or no linguistic background is expected of the reader.

One of the questions that remains is: are the languages revived the "real
languages"? Leanne Hinton raises this question herself, when she writes
about the efforts to revive the Mutsun language and adapt the language to
modern society. Hinton (p414) writes: "It is funny, poignant and thought-
provoking to realize that the most commonly used words in Mutsun right now
are words that never existed when the Mutsun language was still alive."
One can argue about the linguistic purity of the languages thus revived,
what becomes clear however is that revitalization efforts raise the
self-esteem of learners and speakers of endangered languages, which can be
crucial for survival if there are only 3 or 4 speakers left.

Although this book is aimed at practitioners; I highly recommend it for
linguists. It shows ways in which linguistic scholarship can be put into
practical use, but also shows some of the problems linguists can encounter
in the real world.


Paulina Jaenecke has just handed in her Ph.D. thesis on Sorbian, a
regional minority language spoken in Germany. Her research interest lies
in the area of language maintenance and intercultural communication.

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