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Adisthina Cahyaning Putri 1401305048

Venessa Tan



Language is the method of human communication, either spoken or written. The study of
language shift and maintenance constitutes a central focus of contemporary linguistic
anthropology and sociolinguistics. Even though someof its central aspects have a rather long
history in the field of study known as language, culture, and society, in the most recent research
agenda interest in linguistic shift and maintenance has touched on almost all crucial areas of the
study of dynamic language phenomena. It engages a focus on both linguistic structure and
linguistic praxis, including language ideologies,discourse and interaction, micro-as well as
macro-sociological parameters, issues relating the self and society to global concerns, and a
feedback between what communities understand as their sociolinguistic condition and what
scholars, academics, and various institutional sources of authority perceive as shift and
In general, we consider the language or languages of a communityas undergoing shift
when the codes under scrutiny are being either progressively or more suddenly replaced by other
languages in speakersrepertoires, with structural consequences for the receding codes, and
sociocultural repercussions for the communities involved. Conscious efforts centered around
various attempts to reverse the shift and retain or regain the structural and functional integrity of
a threatened language fall within the social dynamic that is called language maintenance. Shift
and maintenance are two poles in a complex dialectic since any social or intellectual movement
voicing an advocacy for maintenance would be meaningless without the existence of historical
contingencies that threaten to push languages in the direction of shift.
To view language shift and maintenance as unilinear phenomena obeying rules of a
mechanistic nature where by the language of a politically dominant community pushes, so to
speak, out of use the expressive means of a subordinate community and later forces come upon
the scene to save the minority language, even though true to some extent, would constitute an
oversimplified perspective on a rather complex process. Crucial questions are: what specific
conditions determine the shifting of a language, which kinds of agency are involved, and which
particular aspects of language structure and use are affected.

Language shift
Language shift is language transfer or language replacement where by a speech
community of a language shifts to speaking another language. It happens when the
language of the wider society (majority) displaces the minority mother tongue language
over time in migrant communities or in communities under military occupation.
Therefore when language shift occurs, it shifts most of the time towards the language of

the dominant group, and the result could be the eradication of the local language.
Language shift in different minorities :
Migrant minorities, people usually switch rapidly from phrase to phrase for instance.
Non-migrant community, for this community, home is the one most under any familys

control, language may be maintained in more domains than just the home.
Migrant majorities, when language shift occurs, it is always shift towards the language
of the domain powerful group. A domain group has no incentive to adopt the language of

Factors contributing to language shift :
a. The economic factor:
Obtaining work is the most obvious economic reason for learning another language.
In English-dominated countries, for instance, people learn English in order to get
good jobs. This results in bilingualism. The high demand from industries for
employees with fluent English has successfully encouraged job seekers to equip
themselves with English. In fact, being competent in English leads to well-paid jobs.
b. Social factor:
Language shift occurs when the community sees no reason to take active steps to
maintain their ethnic language. When a community of speakers moving to a region or
country whose language is different from theirs, there is a tendency to shift to the new
language. Every time an immigrant learns the native language of the new country
and passes it down to children in place of the old country language. For example,
when a migrant minority group moves to a predominately monolingual society
dominated by one majority group language in all the major institutional domains

school, TV, radio, newspaper, government administration, courts, work language

shift will be unavoidable unless the community takes active steps to prevent it.
c. Political factor:
A rapid shift occurs when people are anxious to get on in a society where knowledge
of the second language is a prerequisite for success.
d. Demographic factor:
Resistance to language shift tends to last longer in rural than in urban areas because
rural groups tend to be isolated from the centres of political power for longer. The
rural people can meet most of their social needs in the ethnic or minority language.
For example, Ukrainians in Canada who live out of town on farms have maintained
their ethnic language better than those in the towns because of their relative social
e. Attitudes and values: Language shift tends to be slower among communities where
the minority language is highly valued. When the minority group support the use of
the minority language in a variety of domains, it helps them to resist the pressure
from the majority group to switch to the majority group language.

Language maintenance
Language maintenance is the degree to which an individual or grups continues to
use their language, particulary in bilingual or multilingual area or among imigrant grup
whereas language shift is the process by which a new language is acquired by new
community usually resulting with the loss of the communitys first language. Language
maintenance refers to the situation where speech commuity continues to use its traditional
language in the face of a host of condition that might foster a shift to another language. If
language maintenance does not occur, there can be several results. One is language death;
speakers become bilingual, younger speakers become dominant in another language, and
the language is said to die. The speakers or the community does not die, of course, they
just become a subset of speakers of another language. The end result is language shift for
the population, and if the language isn't spoken elsewhere, it dies. There are several ways
to maintenance a minority language :
a. A language can be maintained and preserved, when it's highly valued as an important
symbol of ethnic identity for the minority group.

b. If a family from a minority group live near each other, and see each other frequently,
their interactions will help to maintain the language.
c. For emigrate individuals from a minority group, the degree and frequency of contact
with the homeland can contribute to language maintenance.

Language loss and language death

Language death occurs in unstable bilingual or multilingual speech communities as a
result of language shift from a regressive minority language to a dominant majority language.
(Wolfgang Dressler, Language Death, 1998)
When all the people who speak a language die, the language dies with them. Sometimes
this fact is crystal clear. When a language dies gradually, as opposed to all its speakers being
wiped out by a massacre or epidemic, the process is similar to that of language shift. The
functions of the language are taken over in one domain after another by another language. As the
domains in which speakers use the language shrink, the speakers of the dying language become
gradually less proficient in it. With the spread of a majority group language into more and more
domains, the number of contexts in which individuals use the ethnic language diminishes. The
stylistic range that people acquire when they use a language in a wider range of domains
With the spread of a majority group language into more and more domains, the number
of contexts in which individuals use the ethnic language diminishes. The language usually
retreats till it is used only in the home, and finally it is restricted to such personal activities as
counting, praying and dreaming.
Example of language loss:
1. Annie at 20 is a young speaker of Dyirbal, an Australian Aboriginal language. She also
speaks English which she learned at school. There is no written Dyirbal material for her
to read, and there are fewer and fewer contexts in which she can appropriately hear and
speak the language. So she is steadily becoming less proficient in it. She can understand
the Dyirbal she hears used by older people in her community, and she uses it to speak to

her grandmother. But her grandmother is scathing about her ability in Dyirbal, saying
Annie doesnt speak the language properly.

There are five factors contributing to laguage shift. There are social, economic, political,
demographic, and attitudes and value. Language shift generally refers to the process by which
one language displaces another in the linguistic repertoir of a community. There are many ways
to maintain a language, such as living nearly with your family which speak the same language so
that a language can be maintained. A language also can be maintained when its highly valued as
an important symbol of ethnic identity for the minority group. Language death has occured when
a language is no longer spoken naturally anywhere in the world.

Holmes, Janet. 1992. AN INTRODUCTION TO SOCIOLINGUISTICS. Edinburgh: Person
(, accessed on September 2016)
Unknown, 2016. Language Death. (,
accesed on Spetember 2016)

Lavigne, Yati. 2012. Factor contributing to language shift. (

accessed on September 2016)


(pdf), University of Amsterdam. Accesed on September 2016