Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 25 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The dominant discourse of language endangerment, centered on countable (named) languages and finite numbers of speakers, is rooted in a nineteenth-century argument between those who viewed language change as following a structural logic internal to each linguistic system, and those (e.g., dialectologists) who observed how changes wash over populations of speakers in a wave-like fashion, driven by grammar-external (sociocultural and economic) factors. Most of modern sociolinguistics (including Labovian variationism) has started from the second position; much recent work in documentary linguistics seems to start from the first. This has implications both for efforts to document endangered languages in the field, and for the design of digital and other infrastructures meant to preserve for posterity the “last words” of a language’s terminal speakers. Speech practices associated with complex and unstable forms of societal plurilingualism and the re-stratification of multilingual speaker repertoires are also in urgent need of documentation and analysis.

Keywords: endangered languages, plurilingualism, documentary linguistics, digital infrastructures, multilingualism

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.