Can majority support save an endangered language? A case study of language attitudes in Guernsey

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Sallabank, Julia (2013)

Many studies of minority language revitalisation focus on the attitudes and perceptions of minorities, but not on those of majority group members. This paper discusses the implications of these issues, and presents research into majority andf minority attitudes towards the endangered indigenous vernacular of Guernsey, Channel Islands. The research used a multi-method approach (questionnaire and interview) to obtain attitudinal data from a representative sample of the population that included politicians and civil servants (209 participants). The findings suggested a shift in language ideology away from the post-second world war ‘culture of modernisation’ and monolingual ideal, towards recognition of the value of a bi/trilingual linguistic heritage. Public opinion in Guernsey now seems to support the maintenance of the indigenous language variety, which has led to a degree of official support. The paper then discusses to what extent this ‘attitude shift’ is reflected in linguistic behaviour and in concrete language planning measures.
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