Language Revitalization and New Technologies: Cultures of Electronic Mediation and the Refiguring of Communities

Patrick Eisenlohr
Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 2004.33:21-45.

Recently, language activists and linguists have begun using new technologies in projects aimed at revitalizing the practice of lesser-used languages. This reviewexplores relatedwork, emphasizing howpractices of electronic mediation enabled by such technologies both shape and are informed by linguistic ideologies, which in turn crucially influence the possible revived use or abandonment of linguistic varieties. New technologies are treated as part of cultures of electronic mediation, connecting sociocultural valuations to mediated discourse. Their use often has important political implications, given that projects of language revitalization are often linked to claims of ethnolinguistic recognition. Finally, because documentation of lesser-used languages using digital technologies also results in the production of new cultural objects to be stored, displayed, and circulated, attention is also focused on the forms of sociality sustained by the creation and exchange of such electronic artifacts.

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