The preservation of indigenous language

Author: Kjell Skyllstad (Chulalongkorn University)
Speaker: Kjell Skyllstad
Topic: Anthropological linguistics
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


Scandinavian countries, in particular northern Scandinavia, has developed unique sociolinguistic frameworks which aim to preserve local indigenous languages. These models have acted to protect the cultural heritages of these ethnicities. As such, these models of preservation have offered a framework to be applied to other contexts, and hence in regions where language and cultural preservation and revitalization have become a salient factor.

This current study presents an evaluation of the Norwegian State Action Plan for the preservation of indigenous languages in the region of tribal northern Scandinavia. The study produces the several recommendations as a comparative framework between northern Scandinavia and ASEAN countries.

With respect to education, the study suggests establishing kindergartens for tribal children led by tribal communities, developing teacher training programs for indigenous instructors, developing educational materials and curricular guides in the local languages, establishing networks of distance learning, arranging language and cultural learning summer camps for tribal children and youth, and mapping mother tongue illiteracy among adults so to assist in the action planning of these projects.

With respect to the daily use of languages, the study suggests a development of interpreter training programs, the implementation procedures for translation of official documents, the development of minority language proficiency in the health services and judicial system, incorporating indigenous language in digital technologies and likewise promoting digital literacy, developing dictionaries for minority languages, and instigating the promotion of place names in local languages.

The study employs a literature analysis, and a comparison of contexts, to determine the appropriation and effectiveness of the application of the Scandinavian preservation system to ASEAN. The study contributes to thought in Linguistic Anthropology, in that it suggests that, despite the uniqueness of sociolinguistic practices, preservation methods and government mandates may, at least in part, offer transferability.

Keywords: Transition, Sociolinguistic frameworks, Scandinavia, Asia, Linguistics