McCarty (2013). Contextualizing Native American LPP: Legal-Political, Demographic and Sociolinguistic Foundations.

McCarty, T. L. (2013). Contextualizing Native American LPP: Legal-Political, Demographic and Sociolinguistic Foundations. In Language Planning and Policy in Native America: History, Theory, Praxis (pp. 1–31). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.

[“Assessing Language Vitality and Endangerment” (p 17) …]

“… schemas use one or more factors indicative of trajectories of language shift: (1) the number and relative proportion of speakers in a population; (2) the nature and extent of intergenerational language transmission; (3) extant domains for using the heritage mother tongue; and (4) the potential for language regeneration (e.g. language documentation resources, official policies supporting or restricting language use, and the availability of teaching materials and heritage-language education programs). Of these factors, Grenoble argues that the characteristics of the pool of speakers are most important — not only number of speakers, but also their distribution intergenerationally and their proportions in the larger population (Grenoble, 2011: 38).” (p 17)

“… Krauss (1997, 1998) … places Native American languages within an A-E [ranked –oki] framework …” (p 17)

“Grenoble and Whaley (2006) propose a six-way schema that, like Krauss’s, indexes speakers’ ages and the extent of intergenerational transmission …” (p 19)

“The UNESCO Ad Hoc Expert Group on Endangered Languages (2003: 8) uses a very similar six-way framework …” (p 19)

“… Bauman also provides a six-way classification …” (p 19)

“… Fishman outlines a graded intergenerational disruption scale or GIDS, in which ‘the higher the GIDS rating the lower the intergenerational continuity and maintenance prospects of a language network or community’ (Fishman, 1991: 87).” (p 19)

[“Native languages in literature, public media, and the digital world” (p 24) …]

“Print and audio-visual media are contentious domains for Native-language use, as mainstream media — Hollywood films as well as some ethnographic and documentary media — are rife with racist stereotypes and misrepresentations. … Yet many culturally authentic Native-language media exist, often ‘in contradistinction to … non-Indian imaginings’ (Deloria, 2011: 175). Historically, one example is the _Cherokee Phoenix_, which rolled off the presses on 28 February, 1828 — eight years after Sequoyah published his syllabary — and is still published today ….” (p 24)

“Today, numerous Native American dailies, weeklies and monthlies exist. Nearly two centuries after its founding, the Cherokee Phoenix has a subscribership of nearly 30,000 readers and continues to publish via a monthly broadsheet, a website (, a mobile application, and a weekly electronic newsletter (Cherokee Phoenix, 2011).” (p 24)

“While electronic media have, in the past, been regarded as an ‘enemy’ of lesser-used languages (‘cultural nerve gas’, says Krauss [1992]), television, radio and digital technologies have become important tools for language revitalization — again disrupting dominant, taken-for-granted assumptions about Indigenous language forms and practices (Deloria, 2011).” (p 25)

[Note: Square brackets in passage above were in the original.]

“As Eisenlohr writes of these types of sound and image recordings, ‘[They] can provide richer and more multidimensional records especially in the fields of phonology and prosody, as well as in the performative and interactional contexts of use as compared to print media’ (Eisenlohr, 2004: 24).” (p 25)

[Note: Square brackets in passage above were in the original.]

“Rosetta Stone, a commercial language-learning software producer, has, as part of of its Endangered Language Program, developed software in partnership with the Inupiaq, Unuktitut, Navajo, Mohawk, and Chitimacha in the United States and Canada (” (p 26)

“Websites and social media such as blogs, web forums and Facebook are increasingly popular LPP resources. As Moriarty writes, ‘Perhaps the most significant of all digital platforms is the internet, the defining technology of globalization’ (Moriarty, 2011: 453). … These new communicative spaces not only provide speakers and language learners ‘with opportunities to hear and maintain skills in the language’, they also may achieve ‘a transformation of ideological valuations of the language so that the lesser-used language is viewed as part of the contemporary world and as relevant for the future of a particular group’ (Eisenlohr, 2004: 24).” (p 26)

“These new cultural spaces and uses for Indigenous languages have many benefits, but are not without controversy or problems. The advantages include the assertion of linguistic self-determination in virtual space; the ability to create more precise, durable and authentic linguistic resources that access local Indigenous voices; less costly ways of disseminating language documentary and educational resources; the creation of new textual genres; the facilitation of networking among a community of language users; and the status-enhancing valorization of Indigenous languages through coeval temporal and spatial positioning in contemporary communicative domains (Eisenlohr, 2004).” (p 27)

“Like print literacies, technology-mediated documentation and revitalization ‘raise questions of access and power’; are these processes simply new forms of ‘storage and display, such as the museum and the archive?’, asks Eisenlohr (2004: 27).” (p 27)

“At the same time, these new language practices ‘demonstrate how we continue to adapt to our environment and to the evolving communicative cultural needs of our population’, emphasizes Leonard (2011: 153). All of this raises questions about the relationship between language, power and self-determination. Ultimately, Leonard (2011) suggests, these issues must be decided by Indigenous communities themselves as part of a necessary process of ideological clarification. ‘Part of our reclamation process involves our recognition and legitimization of how we exist’, Leonard says, ‘which is as a diverse group of people who share a common history, language, and … cultural values’ (Leonard, 2011: 153).” (p 28)

[“Native languages in schools” (p 28) …]

“Although schooling for Native Americans is complicated and compromised by federal mandates and purse strings, it remains a crucial arena for the exercise of tribal sovereignty and linguistic and educational self-determination. As this section suggests, much of this revolves around the right (and the fight) to teach and maintain Indigenous languages …” (p 30)

Selected References

  • Bauman, J.J. (1982). Guide to Issues in Indian Language Retention. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.
  • Cherokee Phoenix (2011). Cherokee Phoenix Annual Report 2011. Tahlequah, OK: Cherokee Phoenix.
  • Deloria, P. (2011). On leaking languages and categorical imperatives. American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 35(2), 173-182.
  • Eisenlohr, P. (2004). Language revitalization and new technologies: Cultures of electronic mediation and the refiguring of communities. Annual Review of Anthropology, 33, 21-45.
  • Fishman, J. A. (1991). Reversing language shift: Theoretical and empirical foundations of assistance to threatened languages. Clevedon: Multilingual matters.
  • Grenoble, L. A., & Whaley, L. J. (2006). Saving languages: An introduction to language revitalization. Cambridge University Press.
  • Grenoble, L. A. (2011). Language ecology and endangerment. In P. K. Austin and J. Sallabank (Eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Language Endangerment (p. 27-44). Cambrdige: Cambridge University Press.
  • Krauss, M. (1992). The world’s languages in crisis. Language, 68(1), 4-10.
  • Krauss, M. (1997). The indigenous languages of the North: A report on their present state. Northern Minority Languages: Problems of Survival. Ethnological Studies, (44), 1-34.
  • Krauss, M. (1998). The condition of Native North American languages: The need for realistic assessment and action. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 132(1), 9-22.
  • Leonard, W. (2011). Challenging ‘extinction’ through modern Miami language practices. American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 35(2), 135-160.
  • Moriarty, M. (2011). New roles for endangered languages. In P. K. Austin and J. Sallabank (Eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Language Endangerment (p. 27-44). Cambrdige: Cambridge University Press.
  • UNESCO Ad Hoc Expert Group on Endangered Languages (2003). Language Vitality and Endangerment. Paris: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Unit. Online at


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