Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.

Ed. by Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian

CiteScore 2016: 0.53

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.505
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.716

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 2013, Issue 223


Will the real Breton please stand up? Language revitalization and the problem of authentic language

Madeleine Adkins
Published Online: 2013-09-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2013-0044


In the context of language endangerment and revitalization, many researchers look to the language of traditional speakers as the standard for “authentic” language. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this article examines the challenges of researching a traditional variety of an endangered language and of evaluating speaker fluency among native speakers of a language that has manyvarieties and no traditional standard. As shown in this study, speakers display a tendency to assess their own Breton as inferior, uneducated, and imperfect; paradoxically, these same speakers also evaluate literary or academic varieties and the neo-Breton of the school-learned speakers of the language as suspect. The speakers' expressed self-evaluations of fluency demonstrate the problematic nature of identifying an authentic, fluent speaker in a society where, for generations, a language has been alternately ignored and denigrated by the government and the public education system. In exploring these issues, this article sheds light upon the sociolinguistic impact of language contact in endangered language contexts, and the resultant real-world challenges for endangered language communities looking to identify and promote confident speakers, and for researchers relying upon self- and other-reported evaluations of fluent speakerhood.

Keywords: Breton; endangerment; linguistic ideologies; ethnography; field methods

About the article

Published Online: 2013-09-14

Published in Print: 2013-09-14

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Volume 2013, Issue 223, Pages 55–70, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2013-0044.

Export Citation

©[2013] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in