Assessing endangerment: Expanding Fishman's GIDS

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Revue roumaine de linguistique (RRL), Vol. LV, No. 2
pages 103-120
Fishman’s 8-level Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (GIDS) has served as the seminal and best-known evaluative framework of language endangerment for nearly two decades. It has provided the theoretical underpinnings for most practitioners of language revitalization. More recently, UNESCO has developed a 6-level scale of endangerment. Ethnologue uses yet another set of five categories to characterize language vitality. In this paper, these three evaluative systems are aligned to form an amplified and elaborated evaluative scale of 13 levels, the E(xpanded) GIDS. Any known language, including those languages for which there are no longer speakers, can be categorized by using the resulting scale (unlike the GIDS). A language can be evaluated in terms of the EGIDS by answering five key questions regarding the identity function, vehicularity, state of intergenerational language transmission, literacy acquisition status, and a societal profile of generational language use. With only minor modification the EGIDS can also be applied to languages which are being revitalized.
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language vitality
Language endangerment
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