Resilience thinking is a new approach to the understanding of complex ecological and social interactions and changes that is also relevant for our response to the processes of change that occur in language endangerment. Many communities around the world are in or approaching a tip phase of language endangerment, involving drastic changes in language ability, structure, and use, as well as the loss of a great deal of other traditional knowledge. A resilience approach, empowering the community and giving it the respect, control, and resources to document and use its traditional knowledge and make its own decisions about language, may allow many groups to achieve a new stability in the face of linguistic and cultural globalization and top-down language policies. Case studies from the Gong community in Thailand and the Lisu community in China, Burma, Thailand, and India illustrate the processes involved. Local initiative, with support from linguists and local authorities, appropriate training and facilitation, and provision of appropriate materials, can stabilize or even reverse an apparently terminal situation.


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pp. 123-140
Launched on MUSE
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