Episode 3: Judie Maxwell, part 2, on Language Death and Vitality

In this episode, we continue our conversation with Judie Maxwell of Tulane University.

“It’s amazing that languages like the Mayan languages of Guatemala have survived 500 years, and that speaks a lot to the resilience and determination of the people.”

Topics include:

  • languages vs. dialects
  • the language that was split by a river
  • What a difference spelling can make (!) (?)
  • How does a language get down to a single speaker?
  • the decisions parents sometimes make not to pass on their language
  • when speaking your language can be dangerous
  • Why do some languages survive while others don’t?
  • how certain language domains help protect some languages
  • the home domain as a “safe space” for language use
  • the absolute necessity of intergenerational transmission (teaching kids to speak the language in the home)
  • the role of schools in language maintenance and revitalization
  • “L’école a détruit le français, l’école doit le restaurer”
  • expanding your language to new domains


  • Quakenbush, J. Stephen, and Gary F. Simons. 2015. “Looking at Austronesian Language Vitality and Endangerment through EGIDS and the Sustainable Use Model.” In Language Documentation and Cultural Practices in the Austronesian World: Papers from 12-ICAL, Volume 4, edited by I Wayan Arka, Ni Luh Nyoman Seri Malini, and Ida Ayu Made Puspani, 1–17. Canberra, ACT: Asia-Pacific Linguistics.
  • The Osage Nation Language Department: https://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/who-we-are/language-department

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