Language Maintenance and Revitalization

Language revitalization addresses the needs of an endangered speech community where language shift has already begun. Thus, language revitalization can be thought of as the process of reversing language shift or language decline. Speakers create opportunities to use the language, and address the social attitudes that triggered the abandonment of the language. Two highly successful examples of language revitalization programs are Hawaiian (spoken in the USA) and Maori (spoken in New Zealand).

Grassroots language revitalization movements in communities undergoing language shift are found around the world. The Enduring Voices Team visits these centers as a regular part of Language Hotspot Expeditions and provides Revitalizaion Toolkits to language workers in order to support revitalization efforts.

For more on the topic of revitalization see Leanne Hinton and Ken Hale (editors), The Green Book of Language Revitalization in Practice (New York: Academic Press, 2001). Leanne Hinton's introduction provides an overview of language revitalization, while the rest of the book provides fascinating case studies. For more on our involvement with revitalization, go here.

Many language groups are using technology, particularly the internet, to encourage interest in their language and culture. Some examples of these efforts from within Language Hotspots include: