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date: 26 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The need for accurate measures of language endangerment is now more important than ever, given the global problem of language endangerment. In this chapter, different vitality measures are introduced and their advantages and disadvantages are discussed. In particular, this chapter draws attention to the Language Endangerment Index. Learning from the strengths and weaknesses of previous approaches, LEI was developed for assessing the level of endangerment for any language in the world. It takes into account four separate factors: intergenerational transmission, absolute number of speakers, speaker number trends, and domains of use. LEI combines these four factors to obtain an overall rating, which can be used for quick reference or comparison. The scale also generates a certainty level, based on how many of the four factors were used in the assessment, which allows it to be used and interpreted accurately, even when little is known about a language’s situation.

Keywords: assessment, vitality, endangerment, comparison, catalogue

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