Language management for endangered languages: the case of Navajo


  • Bernard Spolsky


In this paper I outline an approach to building a theory of language management and its application to endangered languages. As I see it, language management is one of the three interconnected components of language policy (see Sallabank, this volume): the other two are language practices and language beliefs. To clarify how this works, I will illustrate the model with the case of Navajo, which is the second largest Native American tribe (after Cherokee) in the United States but whose language is not unreasonably considered to be endangered (Lee and McLaughlin 2001). The dominant impression left by our analysis of the Navajo situation is that the shift from Navajo to English is mainly supported by such language management as exists on the Reservation and elsewhere. Only a major change of policy, with concerted grassroots and government support for active language management, is likely to reverse this situation.


endangered languageslanguage managementlanguage policyNavajolanguage shift
  • Year: 2009
  • Volume: 6
  • Page/Article: 117-131
  • DOI: 10.25894/ldd241
  • Published on 31 Jul 2014