Indigenous languages are under siege, not only in the US but around the world – in danger of disappearing because they are not being transmitted to the next generation. Immigrants and their languages worldwide are similarly subjected to seemingly irresistible social, political, and economic pressures. This article discusses a number of such cases, including Shawandawa from the Brazilian Amazon, Quechua in the South American Andes, the East Indian communities of South Africa, Khmer in Philadelphia,Welsh, Maori, Turkish in the UK, and Native Californian languages. At a time when phrases like “endangered languages” and “linguicism” are invoked to describe the plight of the world’s vanishing linguistic resources in their encounter with the phenomenal growth of world languages such as English, the cases reviewed here provide consistent and compelling evidence that language policy and language education serve as vehicles for promoting the vitality, versatility, and stability of these languages, and ultimately promote the rights of their speakers to participate in the global community on and in their own terms.
Language in Society 27, 439–458 (1998). PDF.