Language revival

From Academic Kids

Language revival is the revival, by governments, political authorities, or enthusiasts, to recover the spoken use of a language that is no longer spoken or learned at home. Language death is the process by which a language ceases to be used by the people who formerly spoke it. Language revival seeks to bring back a language that is dead or endangered.

Perhaps the most celebrated example of successful language revival is the Hebrew language, which now exists as a living tongue in daily use in the state of Israel. Other official attempts to revive endangered languages, such as the promotion of the Irish language in the Republic of Ireland (see Gaelic Revival), have met with less success. Some other endangered languages that have been the subject of revivalist campaigns by enthusiasts or governments include:



In Europe, in the 19th and early 20th century, the use of both local and learned languages declined as the central governments of the different states imposed their vernacular language as the standard throughout education and official use (this was the case in France, Spain and Italy).

In the last few decades, local nationalism and human rights movements have made a more multicultural policy standard in European states. Campaigns have raised the profiles of local languages to such an extent that in some European regions, the local languages have acquired the status of official languages, along with the national language. The Council of Europe's action in this area (see European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages) is in contrast to the European Union's granting of official status to a restricted number of official languages (see Languages of the European Union).

On the other end of the spectrum, Latin, the learned language in which higher education and academic communication was carried out in Europe for many centuries, thus providing a cultural link to the continent across all of her universities until the aforementioned period, has also been the object of a language revival movement and is precariously growing in number of speakers (cf. Living Latin), although, as a language which is native to no people, this movement has not received support from any governments, national or supranational.


More than 750 languages have already become extinct around the world. Still others have only a few known speakers; these languages are endangered languages.

The UN estimates that more than half of the languages spoken today have fewer than 10,000 speakers and that a quarter have fewer than 1,000 speakers and that, unless there are some efforts to maintain them, over the next hundred years most of these will become extinct.

The Endangered Language Fund is a fund dedicated to the preservation and revival of endangered languages.

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