The Impact of Language Policy on Endangered Languages

Suzanne Romaine

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Abstract

Evaluation of the potential and actual impact of language policy on endangered languages is complicated by lack of straightforward causal connections between types of policy and language maintenance and shift, as well as by confusion of policy and planning. Language policy is not an autonomous factor and what appears to be ostensibly the .same. policy may lead to different outcomes, depending on the situation in which it operates. Weak linkages between policy and planning render many policies ineffective. Conventions and treaties adopted by international organisations and agencies recommending the use of minority languages in education usually lack power to reinforce them. Furthermore, policies have negligible impact on home use, which is essential for continued natural transmission of endangered languages. Although survival cannot depend on legislation as its main support, legal provisions may allow speakers of endangered languages to claim some public space for their languages and cultures.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Romaine, Suzanne. The Impact of Language Policy on Endangered Languages. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2002, vol. 4, no.2, pp. 194-212. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol4/issue2/art3

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