Language Awareness in Minority Language Contexts

Authored by: David Lasagabaster

The Routledge Handbook of Language Awareness

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138937048
eBook ISBN: 9781315676494
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315676494.ch28

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Abstract

It is estimated that today there are around 7,000 languages spoken in the world, but half of them are expected to disappear in the next few years. Language shift, the process whereby a given speech community of a lesser-used language shifts to speaking a more dominant language, has been a constant in human history, but what is unheard of is the speed at which this process has been taking place in the last decades. As a result of globalization, economic, social and political pressure is exerted on a large part of the world’s population to stop the intergenerational transmission of lesser-used or minority languages, that is, the transmission of the traditional language through the different generations of a family, in order to adopt the more dominant language that will purportedly secure social and economic mobility to siblings. This language shift brings about feelings of language loss and, therefore, identity loss, because language and identity are ineluctably connected. The side-effects of this global trend are variegated, but among the first ones to emerge, the dramatic fracture that often occurs between the older generation (grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles) and the younger generation (children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews) clearly stands out.

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