Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: July 01, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963985 | Print ISBN: 9781412937207 | Online ISBN: 9781412963985| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Language Shift and Language Loss
Every year, all over the planet, languages die. Most of us are unaware of this even when it occurs in our own country. This entry reviews and summarizes two important concepts in the study of language survival and disappearance: language shift and language loss. Language death is often the ultimate result of this progression. Because of its obvious meaning, it will be discussed only briefly. Definitions of language shift and language loss will be followed by more extensive discussion, including efforts to stop or retard language loss. Language shift can occur in an individual or within a community. For an individual, language shift can generally be defined as a loss in language proficiency or a decreasing use of that language for different purposes. This leads, in turn, to a linguistic atrophy caused by the non-use of a language. For a community, the term refers to a change from one Language ...