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American Anthropologist

Getting Language Rights: The Rhetorics of Language Endangerment and Loss

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Abstract

Endangerment, loss, death, and related terms are increasingly familiar in descriptions of sociolinguistic change now occurring at an unprecedented scale because of forces of globalization. They can serve both as names for shared concerns of linguists and anthropologists, and as descriptions of otherwise different scenes of social encounter, because they are subject to multiple uses and interpretations. This article focuses on tacit, enabling assumptions of three distinct strategies for framing and redressing "threats" to marginalized languages and speech communities. Recognition of their ideological grounds helps develop a sharper sense of their different uses, and the different social saliences that linguistic descriptions can have in and for marginalized communities. [Keywords: linguistics, ideology, language change]

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