Aboriginal Language Maintenance, Development, and Enhancement
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This paper offers a general review of literature relating to the maintenance, development and enhancement of Aboriginal languages in North America, espercially Canada. Following current Canadian practice, the term 'Aboriginal languages' will refer to the descendants of those languages that were spoken in North America before the coming of Europeans. It is comparable to the terms 'Native American languages' in the United States, and 'indigenous languages'in Latin America. I start with an outline of several concepts, mostly from sociolinguistics, that are useful for the purposes of thinking about language maintenance. Next, the current status of Aboriginal languages in Canada is considered through census figures and other broad data, indicators of factors that influence language change, scales of language vitality, and comparisons with recent immigrant language groups in North America. Then, there is a longer section on matters relating directly to interventions for active maintenance of Aboriginal languages. The main topic is language in education, but other areas are touched on such as Aboriginal people's values concerning their ancestral languages, policies on minority languages, literacy in Aboriginal languages, and community activities for language development. Finally, the situation of Aboriginal language outside of North America is reviewed.
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