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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.

Ed. by Garcia Otheguy, Ofelia / Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian

6 Issues per year

CiteScore 2016: 0.53

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

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Volume 2015, Issue 231


Sociolinguistic vitality of Manx after extreme language shift: authenticity without traditional native speakers

Tadhg Ó hIfearnáin
Published Online: 2014-12-18 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2014-0031


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.

Keywords: authenticity; native speaker; language revitalization and regeneration; Manx Gaelic; Monegasque

About the article

Published Online: 2014-12-18

Published in Print: 2015-01-01

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Volume 2015, Issue 231, Pages 45–62, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2014-0031.

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©2015 Ó hIfearnáin, published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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