Abstract

This commentary focuses on three main topics raised in Mufwene’s (2017) target article, in addition to language policy, which I propose must be taken into account in order to support language vitality. First, this commentary explores the nature and role of speakers’ agency regarding the fate of their language. Second, it addresses whether it is always the case that populations shift because they sense that preserving a language can marginalize them, since this is presented as a possible cause of language loss in Mufwene’s article. Third, it reflects on the role of multilingualism in language death. I argue that multilingualism and/or competing languages need not result in language loss but may rather result in language coexistence, as long as each language fulfills a distinct function. Finally, I explore the key role of language planning and policy in determining the life or death of languages, likely to be one of the most effective ways to ensure language vitality, if the right language policy is adopted.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. e298-e305
Launched on MUSE
2017-12-21
Open Access
No
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