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14 Purism vs. Compromise in Language Revitalization and Language Revival (1994)

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Chapter Summary

Purism represents a form of conservatism, a harking back to the favored forms or styles of earlier times: those of relatively recent generations in the case of English, but those of a truly ancient ancestral language in the case of Hindi, and those of a less ancient but still very remote period in the case of Arabic. This chapter suggests that a common challenge for language revitalization and language revival is to limit the restrictive role which puristic attitudes are likely to play in the communities in question, or to channel such attitudes into forms which are useful rather than harmful. It distinguishes revitalization from revival. Puristic attitudes should, in theory, be more of a potential problem in revitalization than in revival. Purity need not be a requirement for persistence, and compromise need not be the death knell, for small languages any more than for larger ones.

Keywords: ancient ancestral language; Arabic; compromise; English; language revitalization; language revival; purism



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