Minority Language Protection and Promotion

Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, Brian Ó Curnáin

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This chapter sets out key issues regarding minority Language protection and promotion (henceforth MINLPP). We first discuss key concepts and propose definitions for those concepts. We then
examine some applications of Language protection and promotion which are of central relevance
to minority-language survival and public debates about feasible interventions. Economic, geographic, demographic, and socio-political factors are crucial to successful Language protection
and promotion at a macro level, which in turn influence the primary aspects of language vitality,
i.e., acquisition, socialisation, ethnolinguistic identity, and praxis at a micro level. Coherent
MINLPP initiatives are predicated on the desire, capacity, and competence of language minorities
to establish and maintain a comprehensiveness in their competitive societal environment. Types
of MINLPP, which are restricted or limited to certain (sub)levels, are clearly sub-optimal, e.g., if
MINLPP is confined mainly to lower-order grassroots promotions or to higher-order symbolic or
official status-planning initiatives. Piecemeal or circumscribed MINLPP approaches fail to provide
the necessary inter-related and comprehensive package of strategic solutions. Therefore, optimal
MINLPP promotes comprehensiveness in individual, institutional, and collective measures forming
a sustainable dynamic which meets a maximum of all minority-group needs, and through which
the target group(s) can gain practical benefits and ethnolinguistic adherence.

LPP (both Language protection and promotion and LND) falls within applied sociolinguistics.
Evidence-based sociolinguistics improves our understanding of language ecologies, of minority language group realities, and of the prospects for global language diversity, from theoretical,
descriptive, and applied perspectives. Given that Language protection and promotion efforts to
date have failed to sufficiently address the ongoing loss of minority languages, LPP is relevant for
both majority-language and minority-language groups in the choices, objectives, and initiatives
they take and the positive and/or negative outcomes that ensue. We argue for the centrality of economic, geographic, demographic, and socio-political factors, as well as the concept of Language
protection and promotion comprehensiveness, all of which influence language vitality: acquisition, socialisation, ethnolinguistic identity, and praxis. The future of global language and cultural
diversity rests on these inter-related, complex, and challenging concerns.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Language Policy and Planning
EditorsMichele Gazzola, François Grin, Linda Cardinal, Kathleen Heugh
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780429448843
ISBN (Print)9781138328198
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2023


  • minority language
  • Minority bilingualism
  • minority language decline
  • Minority language fragility
  • minority language regeneration
  • language vitality
  • Language and culture
  • language planning
  • language protection
  • language promotion
  • Language acquisition
  • sociolinguistics
  • language neglect and demotion
  • Ethnolinguistic crisis
  • ethnolinguistic group
  • ethnolinguistic diversity


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