Language Revalorization in Peruvian Amazonia, Through the Lens of Iquito

Authored by: Christine Beier , Lev Michael

The Routledge Handbook of Language Revitalization

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138674493
eBook ISBN: 9781315561271
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter describes efforts to revitalize Iquito, a highly endangered Zaparoan language of Peruvian Amazonia, and in doing so illustrates key issues that often affect language vitality, research, and revitalization work in the Amazon region more generally. We describe the principal historical and social factors that led to the highly endangered status of the language and the perceived need for revitalization work; and we discuss our involvement with the Iquito people and language, with the aim of presenting our experiences—successes as well as failures—as resources for effective action in similar situations. We approach an understanding of why revitalization efforts may fail to produce new speakers, or even “understanders,” of a language despite what seem to be suitable, or even excellent, conditions to achieve that outcome; and we propose reframing certain kinds of efforts and outcomes as successful language and culture revalorization work rather than as unsuccessful language revitalization.

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