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Cogent Arts & Humanities

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From inspiration to method: the traditional arts in language revitalization

Manuscript deadline
08 January 2024

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Article collection guest advisor(s)

Mary S. Linn, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
[email protected]

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From inspiration to method: the traditional arts in language revitalization

Traditional arts are passed from one generation to the next, typically through families or communities. Examples of traditional arts include folk and traditional music, dance, and craft, covering a wide range of skills from basketry to stone masonry, pottery, bead and ribbon work, wood carving, knitting, weaving, and more. Traditional arts are not unchangeable, but are influenced by family, ethnicity, and generational trends. Traditional arts, like the languages used to shape them, are susceptible to rapid shift and loss. Interest in learning and reviving these arts often acts as a gateway to learning endangered and minoritized languages.

While traditional arts, and their new interpretations, are known to play a vital role in motivating initial engagement in language and cultural revitalization, little is written about how they are effectively used in language revitalization efforts, that is, in formal programs such as classes or master-apprentice programs and informal settings such as mentoring and family relationships, camps, and place-situated learning initiatives.

This collection should serve as case studies for leveraging the traditional arts into language learning in endangered and minoritized language contexts. They may answer these questions, among others:

- To what degree does seeking out this knowledge by younger generations create initial motivation to learn the language? How is this motivation channeled into increased or lifelong engagement in language learning, teaching, or activism?
- How is this individual or small group motivation around language leveraged into larger group or community motivation and change?
- How do mentors/instructors/programs go beyond vocabulary to effectively teach language through or with traditional arts?
-How does this teaching support or reveal other forms of knowledge (such as meaning in form or design or use) and knowledge production?
-How are traditional arts used as identifiers of community/group membership, or involvement in language reclamation as a social movement?

The articles should ideally be written by or with persons actively engaged in the described efforts and should include concrete examples that are helpful for other language practitioners as well as those interested in larger issues of language and cultural reclamation and sustainability.

About the Guest Advisor

Name:  Mary S. Linn
Title: Curator of Language and Cultural Vitality
Email: [email protected]
Institution: Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Mary S. Linn is the Curator of Language and Cultural Vitality at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Her primary research is in effective grassroots strategies in language reclamation and cultural sustainability, especially in small and minoritized language communities. She is director of the Language Vitality Initiative that focuses on collaborative language research, training in language and cultural documentation, and evaluating impact of grassroots language revitalization efforts. She holds a PhD in linguistics.

Disclosure Statement: Dr. Linn has no conflicts of interest to disclose regarding this work

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All manuscripts submitted to this Article Collection will undergo desk assessment and peer-review as part of our standard editorial process. Guest Advisors for this collection will not be involved in peer-reviewing manuscripts unless they are an existing member of the Editorial Board. Please review the journal Aims and Scope and author submission instructions prior to submitting a manuscript.