Exploring Language Loss and Identity: Aboriginal Perspectives
Alexandra M.V. van den Elsen
James Cook University
The arrival of a new dominant European colonial power had great consequences for the Aboriginal peoples of what was to become Canada. New languages such as English and French were introduced and active policies aiming to assimilate Aboriginal peoples into larger Euro-Canadian society resulted in the loss and decline of many Aboriginal languages. Languages once spoken by large communities are now extinct or in need of revitalization and maintenance strategies to ensure language use by future generations.
The loss and decline of these languages had a great impact on Aboriginal culture and identity. This study explores that history of loss, revitalization and identity from both an academic and an Aboriginal perspective. The stories and experiences shared in ten interviews give voice to several Cree and Kwakwaka'wakw perspectives on these topics. As it turns out, many see a future for their Aboriginal language, despite it's endangered status and the continued pressure on the language, precisely because it is such an important marker of their identity.
ISBN 9783895864698. LINCOM Studies in Native American Linguistics 71. 76pp. 2013.