This article draws on sociolinguistic fieldwork among speakers of one of Europe's smallest indigenous language communities, a speaker group which persists after the loss of all of its “traditional speakers” within living memory. The extreme language shift experienced by Manx has not led to loss of the language as a spoken and literary medium due to the efforts of significant numbers of language activists and enthusiasts over several generations, from before the loss of the traditional language community to the present. Their actions have resulted in significant linguistic institutionalisation and a rapidly expanding number of speakers of various abilities, some of whom form a new “speaker community”. It discusses the constructions of linguistic authenticity and alternative models for the revival speaker, showing how core groups of speakers have been bestowed with authenticity by the wider non-speaker population, for whom linguists' interest in language endangerment and language death are not primary concerns. The article shows how speakers appropriate and are accorded forms of authority and legitimacy in the absence of traditional native speakers.
©2015 Ó hIfearnáin, published by De Gruyter
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