Rescuing Maori: the last 40 years


  • Bernard Spolsky


As well as naming the concept, Fishman (1991:87-110) proposed a typology of the status of threatened languages, the Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale, which assessed the likelihood of language maintenance or death. A decade later, Fishman 2001 daringly invited a number of scholars to comment on and update his scale and case descriptions; while many found the scale to need qualification, all agreed it was a useful selection of significant features and an approximation of the order in which they commonly occur. To illustrate the process of language rescue, I have chosen to describe and analyze the progress of the Māori language in Aotearoa (New Zealand) over the last forty years or so as it moved from a probable Stage 2 to a reasonable approximation of the highest pre-independence Stage 8. In essence, this will show us the possibilities and limitations of a grass roots community-based movement gradually achieving public and government support to regenerate a threatened indigenous language.


threatened languagesindigenous languagesGraded Intergenerational Disruption ScaleMāoriNew Zealandcommunity-basedlanguage rescuelanguage maintenance
  • Year: 2009
  • Volume: 6
  • Page/Article: 11-36
  • DOI: 10.25894/ldd237
  • Published on 31 Jul 2014