Abstract

During the past two decades, field linguists have expressed serious concerns over the unprecedented rapid loss of ‘indigenous languages’, the endangerment of many others, and the implications of these processes for the education and economic development of ‘indigenous populations’, among other matters. The book to which this article responds is a rare volume that focuses on the use of ‘minority languages’ in education and national economies to eradicate poverty, as well as on socioeconomic hardships the poor experience in shifting to the ‘dominant language’. I explain how complex the subject matter is and how little prepared linguistics still is for it. I show that our profession has no empirically grounded and ecology-specific advice to provide to economists and politicians who are concerned with societal multilingualism (mis)construed as an obstacle to economic development. Nor does the field appear to have determined under what ideal socioeconomic conditions a language can be maintained without being a liability or an unnecessary burden to its speakers.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 910-932
Launched on MUSE
2010-12-30
Open Access
No
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