7.1 Documenting Language Endangerment

There has been little research to date on the impact of political instability and conflict on language endangerment, despite the major impact these factors have on indigenous languages. Among the academic community, there seems to be a general awareness of the impacts of instability and conflict on indigenous languages, but that awareness is largely at the surface level. 

Stories of instability and conflict are rarely seen in language archives, but could potentially tell us a lot about the root causes of language endangerment.  It is not unusual for stories of instability, conflict, crime, and trauma to come up during data collection. Despite this, language documentation training and guides rarely focus on how to properly navigate these situations.

In an attempt to encourage dialogue about such matters, we will explore specific examples of how political instability and local conflict can expedite language endangerment. We will then review ethical concerns and how to handle data gathering when such information is shared.


  1. To recognize the impact that political instability and conflict have on language endangerment
  2. To understand the ethical issues surrounding the gathering of stories about political instability and conflict
  3. To understand the potential healing process that sharing stories can be
  4. To understand how to approach archiving of stories about political instability and conflict


Chelliah, Shobhana. (2021). Why Language Documentation Matters. Springer: Dordrecht.


Bradley, D., & Bradley, M. (2019). Language Endangerment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Evans, N.  (2010). Dying Words, Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us. UK: Wiley-Blackwell.