An Investigation of Language Death: The Alaskan Yupik and Eyak Native Languages
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Language death is a process that has been occurring among the cultures and societies of our planet since time immemorial. While there are theorists that describe language death as a beneficial and productive process, there are others who claim it is a tragedy to all of humankind. As language is a fundamental aspect of culture, so too is culture inherently bound to language; any endeavor toward gaining knowledge and understanding of a particular language must be attempted in conjunction with appropriate awareness· of the culture of its origin. It follows that any full examination or study of a culture should involve an examination of that cultures specific language. Language death is today, something occurring in our own backyards, throughout numerous communities of Native Alaskan people and other communities worldwide. While there are many initiatives aimed at the revitalization, preservation and enhancement of these Native Alaskan Languages, they continue to fall into disuse and die. This paper is an . exploration of the theories surrounding language and _culture as well as how and why it is that languages death. The history and current situation of the Alaskan Yupik and Eyak people is also a topic of discussion; two communities from which we may catch a glimpse of how the theoretical perspectives regarding language, culture and the process of language death are played out in specific contexts of everyday, real life.
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