Article published in:Language Documentation: Practice and values
Edited by Lenore A. Grenoble and N. Louanna Furbee
[Not in series 158] 2010
► pp. 221–230
Saving languages, saving lives
Tojolabal (Mayan) language revival within a health research NGO
Most documentation projects for endangered languages arise from the concerns and subsequent collaborations of language experts and of language inheritors. Both groups have vital interests. Linguistic experts view language death as loss of a record of human creativity and adaptation, study of which dominates their careers. Inheritors of the dying language experience the loss as erasure of the most important touchstone to their history and culture. Nonetheless, sometimes a project that enhances the vitality of an endangered language arises as an emergent phenomenon, an activity ancillary to the primary concern of a group that initiates the documentation and invigoration processes. In this paper we describe one such collaboration, and suggest it as a model for other potential collaborations.
Published online: 25 November 2010