This dialogue piece addresses the relative lack of youth perspectives in the academic literature on language shift, endangerment, reclamation, and maintenance. One of the most important ways to address the matter of intergenerational language shift is to encourage the further integration of youth perspectives into these academic discourses, especially (but not exclusively) perspectives written by young scholars who are speaker-members of communities in which language shift is occurring. Through such perspectives, we can gain more nuanced understandings of youth perceptions about language shift in their communities, the effects on their linguistic identities, and their motivations for reclaiming (or letting go of) their ancestral/heritage languages. In this dialogue piece, I explore perspectives shared with me by members of my generational cohort as a way of telling other stories of youth who are engaged in lifelong journeys of holding on to and reclaiming their languages for reasons that are inherently tied to personal identities. By the nature of the array of languages I discuss in this essay, an Austronesian perspective emerges, one that I draw on for personal inspiration: the challenges I face as a Filipino are shared by other members of my cohort who are of Austronesian ancestry. It is an immeasurable amount of support knowing that there are other young Austronesians like me who are fighting to hold on to their languages against all odds. This dialogue piece is a contribution to the growing literature on youth perspectives in the academic discourses on language shift, endangerment, reclamation, and maintenance.
The Contemporary Pacific – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Jun 5, 2015