Abstract and Keywords
This chapter argues that successful language recovery evolves over time through a series of stages characterized by distinct paradigms (sets of assumptions), each of which in turn challenges deep-rooted assumptions of the preceding stage. The exposition draws on the narratives of Basque and Nawat language recovery to illustrate this, focusing on paradigm transitions which question typical priorities of orthodox approaches, such as the language’s oral character, its purity, native speakers, descriptivism, teaching children, and bonds with the rural world and a traditional lifestyle. A successful recovery process should transcend these constraints. It should recognize the importance of writing, neologisms, new speakers, prescriptive proposals, adult learners, urban settings and ideological neutrality. This alternative paradigm justifies current developments in the Nawat movement powered by the internet, social media, incorporation of new adult speakers, and a new generation of young, university-educated language enthusiasts.
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