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Vanishing Languages in Context

Ideological, Attitudinal and Social Identity Perspectives


Martin Pütz and Neele Mundt

This volume grew out of the 36th International LAUD Symposium, which was held in March 2014 at the University of Koblenz-Landau in Landau, Germany. There is general consensus among language experts that slightly more than half of today’s 7,000 languages are under severe threat of extinction even within fifty to one hundred years. The 13 papers contained in this volume explore the dramatic loss of linguistic diversity, why this matters, and what can be done and achieved to document and support endangered languages especially in the context of an ever increasing globalized world. The issue of vanishing languages is discussed from a variety of methodologies and perspectives: sociolinguistics, language ecology, language contact, language policy/planning, attitudes and linguistic inequalities.
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Hilda Kebeya-Omondi & Fridah Kanana Erastus - Devolution of governance and linguistic (in) equalities in Kenya


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Hilda Kebeya-Omondi & Fridah Kanana Erastus

Kenyatta University, Kenya

Devolution of governance and linguistic (in) equalities in Kenya

Abstract This paper seeks to shed more light on the relationship between political governance and language inequalities in the context of language endangerment. Focusing on Kenya, we begin by identifying and categorizing language inequalities at the national and county levels of governance. We are of the view that when political power is devolved in nations, language inequalities are also devolved. We argue that these ‘devolved language inequalities’ are a threat to a majority of the indigenous languages especially those spoken by minority groups. This is paradoxical, considering that a major reason for devolution is usually to cede some power from the national authorities to local ones in order to make the citizenry more powerful (in all aspects of their lives, language included). Results from our investigation indicate that the devolution of power does sometimes aggravate the existing language inequalities. Thus, when devolving political power, nations need to pay more attention to the language rights of the citizens. The complexities surrounding language, its use and speakers also need to be considered. To minimize language inequalities the following strategies are proposed: documentation (documenting the endangered languages to preserve them for posterity), advocacy (advocate for linguistic diversity and respect of all languages and their users) and Literacy/educational programmes (developing literacy programmes in minority languages and/or mainstreaming them in various educational programmes especially at the local level)...

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