Language loss: Death or Revitalization? Choose!

After reading a blog post Language losswhich gives a brief overview on the notion of language loss, the numbers of death languages in the world presented by different scholars, the basic awareness was raised. In this post, I would like to add another two notions which are closely connected with language loss: language death and language revitalization.

King (2000) and Orman’s (2013) points out that language shift and language death are not new notions today. Orman (2013) raises a controversial question of whether language is dead or just disappeared. From a linguistics point of view, a language can be considered as lost or dead when it is no used in communication. However, it is crucial to pay much attention to the revitalization of a language in order to save diversity on our planet. “Language revitalization requires an intervention approach from the bottom up to reverse language shift, stabilizing endangered languages. Such an ‘applied’ approach entails a commitment to the communities’ interests and perspectives and poses a number of political and ethical dilemmas” (Tsunoda, 2005, p. 170). It was stated that in order to revitalize a language, both linguists and speakers should work together.

Baker (2001) and King (2000) studied Fishman’s (1990, 1991) 8 stages GIDS (Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale) in terms of language revitalization. Baker (2001) commented on GIDS and highlighted that “The GIDS scale is a valuable attempt at sequencing and prioritizing action where there is a downward language shift and upwards ambitions” (p. 83). He stated that language revitalization has to be started by a minority community. And he suggested that maybe there would be the time when a majority community would pay attention to and secure minority languages. Both majorities and minorities should be involved in the preservation of languages.

King (2000) gives the thought that language planning is bounded with language revitalization. Language planning is the step that made to influence a language use and structure. It consists of corpus planning, status planning, and acquisition planning. Status planning is expansion a language use in the areas, such as church, school, and governmental institutions. It is made for the increase of the status of a language purposefully (De Jong, 2011). Another part of a language planning is a corpus planning; it stands for a language development and includes changes in a language. For instance, creating new words for a special sphere is for vocabulary planning, correcting and differentiating some forms in a language is for grammar and spelling planning (Cooper, 1989). The third part is acquisition planning; it is taken into account by policymakers in order to enlarge the number of people speaking a language. It can be made by establishing different language programs of teaching languages (De Jong, 2011). All these could be taken as main steps towards language maintenance and revitalization.

Language loss could have two results: it could become dead or revitalized. It would be better to prevent language loss and death if some of the proposed steps are taken by all the persons, not only native speakers, but policy makers, linguists, teachers, government, minority and majority languages’ speakers.



Baker, C. (2001). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism (3rd ed.). Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters. Retrieved from https// education-and-bilingualism-bilingual-education-and-bilingualism-27-2001.pdf

Cooper, R.L. (1989). Language planning and social change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

De Jong, E. (2011). Multilingualism and Multilingual Development. Foundations for Multilingualism in Education (pp.48-82). Philadelphia, PA: Caslon, Inc.

Fishman, J. (1996). What do you lose when you lose your language? In G. Cantoni (Ed.), Stabilizing Indigenous Languages (pp. 80-91). Flagstaff, AZ: Northern Arizona University Center for Excellence in Education. Retrieved from

King, K. A. (2000). Language revitalization processes and prospects: Quichua in the     Ecuadorian Andes. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Orman, J. (2013). Linguistic diversity and language loss: a view from integrational linguistics. Language Sciences, 40, 1-11. Retrieved from

Tsunoda, T. (2005). Language endangerment and language revitalization: An introduction. Germany, Berlin: De Gruyter.


One thought on “Language loss: Death or Revitalization? Choose!

  1. Excellent work, Ayana. (5/5). Your post is a great example of building on the work of previous authors. Keep doing this, but go even further! You add a few ideas that were not mentioned in the earlier article, but you don’t go into depth about how your work builds the ideas they presented. Find and explain the ways your work improves, contradicts, or supports those earlier ideas. Very clear writing throughout!

    Liked by 1 person

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