At what cost? Methods of language revival and protection: Examples from Hebrew

Elana Shohamy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


THE THEME of this volume is "sustaining linguistic diversity: endangered and minority languages and language varieties"; thus most chapters focus on how to revive and protect languages that are perceived to be "endangered." This chapter takes a different approach, discussing how such efforts can in fact entail oppressive, draconic, colonializing, and monopolizing methods. Such methods or mechanisms implicate personal rights, ethicality, morality, and freedom of speech. The act of reviving and protecting languages is deeply embedded in ideologies, beliefs, and political factors (Schieffelin, Woolard, and Kroskrity 1998); thus it can demand high costs from the individuals required to comply with the concomitant regulations, which are often in contradiction to daily practices and personal beliefs. While language revival and protection may perpetuate the goals and ideologies of a "nation" or a collective group, it may also lead to supremacy and domination of some groups while marginalizing others. Further, such language ideologies often linger long after the languages concerned are safe and well established, and oppressive acts are justified in the name of ongoing protection.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustaining Linguistic Diversity
Subtitle of host publicationEndangered and Minority Languages and Language Varieties
PublisherGeorgetown University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781589014169
ISBN (Print)9781589011922
StatePublished - 2008


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