On the Right to Linguistic Survival

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In recent years, political theorists have begun to grapple with the important normative questions that arise in relation to claims for language rights. This paper will seek to contribute to this ongoing debate by focusing in detail on the issue of linguistic survival. It will consider to what extent the members of a minority language community can demand that they have a right to see their language survive into the future. This question will be considered from two distinct perspectives. First, from an individualist perspective: can the members, as individuals, demand that they have a right to see the language survive? Secondly, from a group perspective: can the members, as a collective, demand that they have a right to see the language survive? In both instances it will be demonstrated that the concept of survival raises a number of substantial normative and ontological problems; ones that mean that a right to such a good would be extremely difficult to justify. Given this, it is concluded that those linguistic activists who have tended to base their rights claims on the concept of survival need to reflect critically on their arguments and develop a new conceptual vocabulary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-99
Number of pages13
JournalRegional and Federal Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Language
  • group
  • individual
  • rights
  • survival


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