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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: August 2016

8 - Efforts, agencies and institutions for language maintenance



In this part, we move beyond description and discussion of the dynamics of LM and LS to focus on the efforts, actions and initiatives of individuals, families, groups and the communities themselves to maintain their minority or heritage language and pass it on to future generations. Part III has two chapters. Chapter 8 is mainly occupied with documenting the kinds of activities and initiatives that minority and heritage language communities themselves are known to undertake in pursuit of LM. Sections 8.1 to 8.5 describe these efforts around the main domains of the home or family (Section 8.1), the community-based school (Section 8.2), religion (Section 8.3), secular community groups (Section 8.4) and the media (Section 8.5). In Section 8.6 we present some examples of how the majority or dominant community assists in LM in relation to schooling and the media. Inevitably, there is some overlap between Chapter 8 and Chapter 6 (to some extent, also Chapter 7) as they all deal with investigating the central question – Who speaks what language to whom, where and to what end? – and describing and analysing patterns of language use in relation to the key domains mentioned above.

In Chapter 9 we tackle two questions pertinent to LM: Can LS be reversed? Here, we will draw upon Fishman's Graded Intergeneration Disruption Scale to seek a response. The other question – Should LS be reversed? – deals with a more controversial topic, at least for languages that will disappear or be lost, if they are not maintained. In the context of this book, this affects territorial minority languages rather than heritage languages in migrant settings.


Throughout this book and in line with the dominant opinions of LM scholars we have stressed the key role that the family plays in efforts to maintain and pass on the heritage or minority language to future generations. So what can or do families do to keep the heritage or minority language alive? In the next sections we discuss various strategies, initiatives and practices found in families living in situations where there are pressures to shift to the dominant language(s) of the nation.

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