Language: The Endangerment Concept (LIN2102.02)

Thomas Leddy-Cecere

The 21st century represents a watershed moment in the history of the world’s languages, as expert estimates predict that anywhere from 40-80% of their 7,000+ number may cease to be spoken within the next hundred years. Awareness of this state of affairs is rapidly increasing, and public and scholarly sentiment have been dramatically captured by the identification of these languages as “endangered”, faced with imminent “death” or “extinction”.  What precisely, though, is understood by the concept of language endangerment?  What do we mean when we predict a language will die, and what do we accomplish when we frame the current state of language loss as an extinction event?  Do comparisons with conservation and ecological mitigation provide viable paths to language revitalization, continuity and survival, or may they in fact lead to restrictive (even harmful) outlooks?  In addressing these questions, we will closely examine the forces — social, cultural, geopolitical, and otherwise — that underlie processes of language loss, and will draw heavily on the stances of linguists, language activists, and speakers of threatened languages themselves.

This course is designed to pair successfully with the 1st seven weeks course Language: The Evolution Concept, though enrollment in both courses is not required.

Delivery Method: Hybrid in-person and remote, with faculty in-person
Prerequisites: None.
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 2
T/F 2:10PM - 4:00PM (2nd seven weeks)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: One time only

Categories: All courses , Sociolinguistics , Hybrid In-Person and Remote
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