Sociolinguistics of Language Endangerment

Instructor(s): David Bradley and Maya Bradley

This subject will introduce the methods and concepts of sociolinguistics as relevant to the documentation of the current situation of an endangered language and suggest some possible sociolinguistic methods and goals for language maintenance and revitalization. Lectures will set out a general framework, then students will discuss the issues in small focus groups, and report back on their own experience or the experience of a group with whom they work, both orally to the whole group and through assessed worksheets. The purpose of the course is to learn how to design and implement a locally appropriate sociolinguistic survey of a community and to develop greater understanding of the sociolinguistic issues in carrying out language maintenance and revitalization.

The topics of the eight components of the course are identity and attitudes; setting factors (location, population, concentration, age, status, etc.); language, dialect and variation; domains of language use; language contact and linguistic vitality; orthographies; language policy; and sociolinguistic survey design. Required reading: Selected materials available online Recommended reading:

  • Bradley, David & Maya Bradley (eds). 2002. Language Endangerment and Language Maintenance. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
  • Grenoble, Lenore A. & Lindsay J. Whaley. 2006. Saving Languages. Cambridge: Cambridge U Press.
  • King, Kendall A., Natalie Schilling-Estes, Lyn Fogle, Jia Jackie Lou & Barbara Selkup (eds). 2008. Sustaining Linguistic Diversity. Washington, DC: Georgetown U Press.

Some previous study of sociolinguistics desirable