Event Date: 7th February 2023


In order to determine appropriate strategies to revitalise a dying language it is important to know the reasons why communities shift away from their mother tongues. In this webinar, I will discuss the many reasons for language shift by a range of speech communities. This wide ranging historic and global overview will discuss two overarching trends. One due to the actions of other powerful actors and one by the members of the community itself. Drawing on previous studies, I will discuss why some speech communities in a range of contexts shift away from the habitual use of their mother tongue and adopt the host community’s language in many domains. There are political, economic, cultural, educational and social reasons that result in the language shift away from one’s heritage language. In addition action, sometimes brutal, by the majority community to the minority community can result in the death of a minority community’s ethnic language. The comparatively more powerful position of the host community’s language also makes many minority speech communities shift to the language used by the majority community. It is important that reasons and factors that result in language shift should be understood prior to seeking solutions to revitalise dying languages.

Keywords: Dying languages, heritage language, language shift, revitalize, speech communities.

About the Speaker:

Honorary Professor, Asia Europe Institute, University of Malaya, Prof. (Dr.) Maya Khemlani David is also an Associate member of the International Institute of Public Policy and Management (IMPUMA) University of Malaya.

She is an Honorary Fellow & Member of Chartered Institute of Linguists (UK) and is an exco member of an international NGO – Foundation of Endangered Languages (FEL).

She received the Linguapax Award for her renowned researches on language maintenance & shift and endangered communities. (https://www.linguapax.org/en/linguapax-award)

Dr. Maya Khemlani David is a former member of the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics (FBL), University of Malaya and was Deputy Head of Postgraduate Affairs in FBL before serving as the Head of the Section Co-Curricular, University of Malaya (SKET) from 2006 to 2013.

Her intellectual interests centre on language planning, language choices, maintenance and shift and discourse analysis. She is the author of numerous books and her publications include works in the fields of Sociolinguistics and Sociocultural issues and Applied Linguistics. Publishers of her books include Peter Lang, University of Amsterdam Press, University of Malaya Press, University Putra Press, University Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Strategic Institute of Research and Development Malaysia, and The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). Sociolinguist Maya Khemlani David is the author of 202 journal articles and book chapters and is on the editorial boards of many journals including The European Journal of Applied Linguistics and TEFL and the Philippine Journal of Linguistics.

Her publications have been frequently cited in global researches.

Scopus Preview: 51 Documents, 329 Citations, 11 h-index.

Research Gate: 483 Publications, 304744 Reads, 1581 Citations.

Google Scholar: 2781 Citations, 28 h-index, 77 i10-index.

She is voluntarily serving to IARS’ International Research Journal in honorary capacity of Editor-in-Chief.