Indigenous language policies in social practice: The case of Navajo

Teresa L. McCarty, Mary Romero-Little, Ofelia Zepeda

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

16 Scopus citations


INDIGENOUS PEOPLES represent 4 percent of the world's population, yet they speak 60 percent of the world's languages (Nettle and Romaine 2000, ix, 12). The contexts in which Indigenous languages are spoken are as diverse as humankind itself, spanning language situations such as that of Quechua, spoken by 8 to 12 million people in six South American countries (and nonetheless an endangered language; see Hornberger and Coronel-Molina 2004; King 2001; King and Hornberger 2004); to that of Aotearoa/New Zealand, wherea single Indigenous language, Ma¯ori, shares co-official status with English and New Zealand Sign Language (May 2005); tothe extraordinary linguistic diversity of Papua New Guinea, where 760 distinct languages, most spoken by fewer than one thousand people, coexist in an area the size of the American state of California; to the state of California itself, where fifty Native American languages are still spoken, none as a first language by children. With some exceptions-Guaraní in Paraguay, for example-the viability of Indigenous languages is severely threatened by legacies of language repression and the myriad contemporary forces that privilege languages of wider communication and marginalize "local" languages. Thus, for Indigenous peoples, language revitalization, maintenance, and reversaloflanguage shift are key language planning and policy (LPP) goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSustaining Linguistic Diversity
Subtitle of host publicationEndangered and Minority Languages and Language Varieties
PublisherGeorgetown University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781589014169
ISBN (Print)9781589011922
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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