Intersections of religion and language revitalization

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, I draw upon ethnographic research in three geographically and linguistically different communities facing language endangerment in order to discuss the intersection between language revitalization efforts and religious practice: the Bretons of Brittany, France; the Chickasaws of Southeastern Oklahoma, U.S.; and the Nahuas of Hueyapan, Mexico. I argue that religious ideologies, practices, and texts often play critical roles in endangered language revitalization. While language revitalization can be interwoven with any number of social practices, I focus on one such aspect of social and personal lifereligion. Religions intersection with language revitalization is often intertwined with the both the specific history of a given language and with the broader community in which it is, or was, spoken. Not surprisingly, the products of both religious practices and language revitalization are often connected. On the one hand, texts and genres incorporated into language revitalization efforts carry not just the primary function of language learning, but also underlying themes of religious (and cultural) beliefs and practices. Religious activities and writings conducted in endangered languages can also carry the secondary effect of encouraging language revitalization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Changing World Religion Map
Subtitle of host publicationSacred Places, Identities, Practices and Politics
EditorsStanley D Brunn
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9789401793766
ISBN (Print)9789401793759
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Language endangerment
  • Language revitalization
  • Religion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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