Limestone College Preceptor of English and Modern Languages Dr. Jack Knipe will present research at The Ninth Cambridge Conference on Language Endangerment at the University of Cambridge on July 2.
At the upcoming conference being held at the prestigious research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom, Knipe will present his study based on his recent time in Scotland.
Knipe spent time at a Gaelic Medium Education School in Scotland where all the subjects are taught in Scottish Gaelic. Although the students use Gaelic throughout the school day, they are bombarded with English, Scots, and a number of immigrant languages as soon as they leave school, Knipe explained.
“With so few speakers of Gaelic, these students are helping to keep the language alive,” Knipe said. “However, the language is starting to change as they mix in words, phrases, syntax, and sounds of the languages they uses outside of school. I was interested in how teachers handle this. Do they correct the students? Do they allow the language to change?”
Although Knipe’s research has focused primarily on the revitalization of Scottish Gaelic, he noted that it has great implications on many endangered languages spoken in the United States, such as Cherokee and Gullah.
The conference invites papers that reflect on issues based around language revitalization.
"The primary aim of language revitalization is to set an endangered language back on its feet, so to speak,” Knipe said. “Revitalization strategies may be developed and implemented by linguists, the State, language activists, and the speakers themselves. However, these strategies, which attempt to make the endangered language an attractive and useful resource for modern users, may result in the transformation of the endangered language rather than restoring it to its old self.”