Endangagered Languages Resources, Links

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What is an endangered language?

Language endangerment or the threat if impending language is loss is not something that can be defined as a black and white thing. Instead there are different stages which we can look at in order to see what the current status of a language is. Joshua Fishman wrote an outline for 8 stages which he considered to be the eight different stages of endangerment which a language could be.

Fishman's Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale

Stage 8: most vestigial users of Xish are sociallly isolated old folks and Xish needs to be re-assembled from their mouths and memories and taught to demographically unconcentrated adults
Stage 7: most users of Xish are a socially integrated and ethnolinguistically active population but they are beyond child-bearing age
Stage 6: the attainment of intergenerational informal oralcy and its demographic concentration and institutional reinforcement
State 5: Xish literacy in home, school and community, but without taking on extra-communal reinforcement of such literacy
Stage 4: Xish in lower education (types a and b) that meets the requirements of compulsory education laws
Stage 3: use of Xish in the lower work sphere (outside of the Xish neighborhood/community) involving interaction between Xmen and Ymen
Stage 2: Xish in lower governmmental services and mass media but not in the higher spheres of either
Stage 1: some use of Xish in higher level educational, occupational, governmental and media efforts (but without the additional safety provided by political independence)

In case it is confusing X stands for any language . Using this scale you can see how endangered a language is. If you were to look at English on this scale you would clearly see that it does not fit; however, if you were to look at Cayuga it would be around stage 7 or 8. It is difficult to define exactly when a language becomes endangered but Fishman points out some tell tale signs.