Language Shift, Language Death, and Language Loss

I. Language Shift in Different Communities
a.      Migrant Minorities
            There is pressure from the wider society. Immigrants who look and sound ‘different’ are often regarded as threatening by majority group members. There is pressure to conform in all kind of ways. Language shift to English, for instance, has often been expected of migrants in predominantly monolingual countries such as England, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Speaking good English has been regarded as a sign of successful assimilation, and it was widely assumed that meant abandoning the minority language. We can observe the shift by nothing the change in people’s patterns of language use in different domains over time.
b.      Migrant Majorities
            Language shift often reflects the influence of political factors and economic factors, such as the need for work. People may shift both location
and language for this reason. Over the last couple of countries, many speakers of Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh, for instance, have shifted to England, and consequently to English, primarily in order to get work. They need English both for their job success and for their social well-being-to make friends. But the outcome is the same when it is the majority group who do the physical moving.

II.  Language Death and Language Loss
            When all the people who speak a language die, the language dies with them. When a language dies gradually, as opposed to all its speakers being wiped out by massacre epidemic, the process is similar to that of language shift. The functions of the language are taken over in one domain after anther by another language. As the domains in which speakers use the language shrink, the speakers of the dying language become gradually less proficient in it.

III.  Factors Contributing to Language Shift
a.       Economic, social and political factors
b.      Demographic factors
c.       Attitudes and values

IV. How can a minority language be maintained?
            There are certain factors which seem to retard wholesale language shift for a minority language group, at least for a time. Language is considered an important symbol of a minority group’s identity. Institutional support generally makes the differences between success and failure in maintaining a minority group language. Education, law and administration, religion and the media are crucial domains from this point of view. The minority group which can mobilize this institution to support language maintenance has chance of succeeding. When the government of country is committed to maintaining or reviving a language, it is possible to legislate for its use for all these domains.

Holmes, Janet. 1992. AN INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLINGUISTICS. Edinburgh: Person Education


  1. I think we need to keep all of our languages, it is what makes us who we are. I dated different men, one was Portuguese and I loved listening to him talk in his own language, it was so beautiful . Another guy was Russian, I married him and had a child with him. I really wanted him to teach the language to our daughter but he never took the time. That was a missed opportunity, I now have my youngest daughter in French Immersion... I want her learn many different languages:)

  2. I agree with you Launna, therefore I like to speaks my mother tongue when I arrive at home.


Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment, please thick ;subscribe, to receive my comment or my answer reply.

Popular posts from this blog

THE COLONEL’S LADY (Social life point of view analysis)