Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights

Living Edition
| Editors: Michael Kocsis

Endangered Languages and Territorial Rights

Living reference work entry



Endangered languages are languages disappearing under the pressure of other languages. Diglossia and language extinction happen in territorial terms, in the generational presence of each language, in their contextual performance, in the status associated to each language, and in the linguistic evolution of the endangered language itself. Three basic factors of linguistic strategies –for both preserving and eliminating languages – are education, media-ICTs, and public administrations.

Although territoriality is not the only dimension of diglossia – e.g., we can find diglossia in social networks or in migrating communities – it is still one of the main ones. Languages have traditionally been firmly attached to territories and they are still nowadays. In this respect, linguistic rights preservation and politics in support of an endangered language are developed by public administrations with competence in a territory where the language is spoken.


This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Costa J (2015) New speakers, new language: on being a legitimate speaker of a minority language in Provence. Int J Sociol Lang 231:127–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cru J (2015) Language revitalisation from the ground up: promoting Yucatec Maya on Facebook. J Multiling Multicult Dev 36(3):284–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cunliffe D, Morris D, Prys C (2013) Young bilinguals’ language behavior in social networking sites: the use of welsh on Facebook. J Comput-Mediat Commun 18(3):339–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Edwards VK (2002) Bilingualism, stories, new technology: the fabula project. In: Sell RD (ed) Children’s literature as communication. John Benjamin Publishing, Amsterdam, pp 333–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fleming A, Debski R (2007) The use of Irish in networked communications: a study of schoolchildren in different language settings. J Multiling Multicult Dev 28(2):85–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Heller M, Duchêne A (2007) Discourses of endangerment: sociolinguistics, globalization and social order. In: Duchêne A, Heller M (eds) Discourses of endangerment: ideology and interests in he defence of languages. Continuum, London, pp 1–13Google Scholar
  7. Hinton L (2011) Language revitalization and language pedagogy: new teaching and learning strategies. Lang Educ 25(4):307–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Jones EHG, Uribe-Jongbloed E (2012) Social media and minority languages: convergence and the creative industries. Multilingual Matters, BristolGoogle Scholar
  9. Kerswill P (2006) Migration and language. In: Mattheler K, Ammon U and Trudgill P (eds) Sociolinguistics/Soziolinguistik. An international handbook of the science of language and society, 2nd ed, vol 3. De Gruyter, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  10. King KA, Schilling N, Fogle LW, Lou JJ, Soukup B (2008) Sustaining linguistic diversity: endangered and minority languages and language varieties. Georgetown University Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  11. May S (2012) Language and minority rights: ethnicity, nationalism and the politics of language. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. Mirza A, Sundaram D (2017) Design and implementation of socially driven knowledge management systems for revitalizing endangered languages. In: Helms R et al. (eds) Social knowledge Management in action, knowledge management and organizational learning (3): 147–167Google Scholar
  13. Moore R (2012) Taking up speech in endangered language: bilingual discourse in heritage language classroom. Work Pap Educ Linguist 27(2):95–116Google Scholar
  14. O’Rourke B, Ramallo F (2011) The native-non-native dichotomy in minority language contexts: comparison between Irish and Galician. Lang Probl Lang Plan 35(2):139–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Pavlenko A (2011) Language rights versus speakers’ rights: on the applicability of Western languages rights approaches in eastern European contexts. Lang Policy 10:37–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Pietikäinen S, Kelly-Holmes H (2011) Gifting, service, and performance: three eras in minority-language media policy and practice. Int J Appl Linguist 21(1):51–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Ricento T (2006) Language policy: theory and practice: an introduction. In: Ricento T (ed) An introduction to language policy: theory and method. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 10–23Google Scholar
  18. Sallabank J (2013) Can majority support an endangered language? A case study of language attitudes in Guernsey. J Miltiling Multicult Dev 34(4):332–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Snutnabb-Kangas T (2008) Linguistic genocide in education – or worldwide diversity and human rights? Orient Longman, DelhiGoogle Scholar
  20. Snutnabb-Kangas T, Phillipson R (2010) The politics of language in globalisation: maintenance, marginalization, or muder. In: Coupland N (ed) Handbook of language and globalization. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 77–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Spolsky B (2012) The Cambridge handbook of language policy. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Department of Modern LanguagesUniversity of Santo TomasManilaPhilippines
  3. 3.Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID)Gobierno de EspañaMadridSpain

Section editors and affiliations

  • Costas Laoutides
    • 1
  1. 1.Deakin UniversityVictoriaAustralia