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What counts as "success" in language revitalization? Hinton, Leanne


Journalists, grant givers and an interested public often ask which language revitalization programs and strategies have been successful. But “language revitalization” is a broad term that can include many different possible goals, and “success” is a point of view rather than a concrete fact. This paper is a result of conversations with Indigenous language activists as to what they view as success (or failure) in the language revitalization for themselves and their communities. These conversations lead to the observation that what counts as success is diverse, individualistic, and transitory, since one event perceived as a success immediately leads to changing goals, strategies, and viewpoints. Nor can “success” be seen as an endpoint of effort, since language revitalization is an unending process —the effort must never stop, in a land where another language is the dominant and dominating tongue. Webcast sponsored by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and hosted by the Future Speakers: Indigenous Languages in the 21st Century series.

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