Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
“Only before God and the linguist, are all languages equal.”
(Mackey 1978: 7)
Reports coming from Indigenous language communities continue to show, with few exceptions, that the rate of fluent speakers passing away is far higher than the creation of fluent second language speakers, or new birth speakers, of these languages. I argue that this disconnect between proclamations of Indigenous language importance, particularly within the academy, and the reality of language revitalization as it stands today, is due in part to internalized language ideologies of language researchers, academics, and administrators, that continue to privilege certain types of knowledge over others. This manifests in ʼfeel goodʼ initiatives within institutions that does not build a foundation for radical change. I propose a rejection of institutional proclamations of language “equality” or language importance that is not supported by funding, acknowledgement of historical and present day colonial practices, and a change in valuation of academics and indigenous scholars work within language revitalization movements. Specifically I suggest a conversation about languageʼs relationship to power (Pütz et al. 2006), how linguistic and anthropological investigation within indigenous languages is not ideologically neutral (Baun et. al 2012), and how more explicit and reflective practices into our own ontologies as academic researchers, students, and community members will necessarily make for more sound, more ethical work.