Abstract

In this response to Mufwene’s (2017) target article we discuss the benefits and disadvantages of extending the ecology metaphor into studies of language vitality, focusing on contexts from the South Pacific. We show that an ecological perspective allows us to focus on the local and particular and can help us to avoid a simplistic reliance on broad phenomena such as ‘globalization’ to account for language endangerment and loss (LEL). However, we contend that this endeavor runs the risk of abstracting away from the human experience of LEL into a ‘survival of the fittest’ or ‘balance sheet’ approach. We conclude that, while it has benefits, the ecology metaphor does not ultimately offer a compelling basis for an overarching theory of language vitality.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. e263-e274
Launched on MUSE
2017-12-21
Open Access
No
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