List of revived languages

List of revived languages

Revived languages are those which, having experienced near or complete extinction as either a spoken or written language, were intentionally revived and have eventually regained some of their former status.

The most frequent reason for extinction is the marginalisation of local languages within a wider dominant nation state, which might at times amount to outright political oppression. This process normally works alongside economic and cultural pressures for greater centralisation and assimilation. Once a language has become marginalised in this way, it is often perceived as being "useless" by its remaining speakers who associate it with low social status and poverty, and consequently fail to pass it on to the next generation.


The region in which Basque is spoken is smaller than what is known as the Basque Country, or "Euskal Herria" in Basque. Basque toponyms show that Basque was spoken further along the Pyrenees than today. Basque experienced a rapid decline in Navarre during the 1800s. Today Basque holds co-official language status in the Basque regions of Spain: the full autonomous community of the Basque Country and some parts of Navarre. Basque has no official standing in the Northern Basque Country of France and French citizens are barred from officially using Basque in a French court of law.


The whole nation of Belarusians was "invisible" 150 years ago, with the area's people being known as Litvins, from the name of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, to whom the Belarusian land belonged. The nation was under heavy Polonization, followed by Russification. The language recovered after the Russian Revolution, followed by another period of neglect.

A second chance of revival appeared after the collapse of the Soviet Union, followed by significant increase of interest in Belarusian culture, language and historical heritage. The government of Alexander Lukashenko has been accused of associating these interests with opposition to his policy of union with Russia. As of 2005, Minsk, the capital of Belarus, does not have a single school with education carried out in the Belarusian language.


Whilst never endangered, Catalan was previously unwelcome in its host country. After the disappearance of the institutions of the Aragonese empire in 1714 (also called the catalan-aragonese Crown), the Spanish Bourbonic dynasty began a policy of linguicide against Catalan. During the 19th century some cultural associations with strong support of the population began to make efforts to revive the language. During Francisco Franco's dictatorship, the policies of linguicide were revived, but following his death and a return to democracy in Spain, the situation has changed considerably and Catalan is now one of the most successful cases of a revived language. It must be noted, though, that Catalan was always spoken in a familiar-popular level during the various linguicide epochs.


Cornish lost most of its official status following the Protestant Reformation but lingered on in rural parts of West Cornwall, United Kingdom, until the late 18th century. There were some records of the language (mainly in its medieval form) to allow it to be revived to an extent (in spite of a limited lexicon) in the 20th century. The revival continues to gain strength, although accompanied by often bitter disputes regarding spelling and which variety of Cornish that should be used.


Czech language was being replaced by German in general and official use in the Austrian Empire. During the 18th and 19th century, efforts were made to expand the vocabulary and revive the language in a process called the Czech National Revival.


Galician is a language of the Western Ibero-Romance branch, spoken in Galicia, an autonomous community with the constitutional status of "historic nationality."

From the 8th century, Galicia was a political unit within the kingdoms of Asturias and Leon, but was able to reach a degree of autonomy at certain times in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries. Galician-Portuguese was the only language in spoken use. Written texts in Galician-Portuguese have only been found dating from the end of the 12th century, because Latin continued to be the literate language.

In the Middle Ages, Galician-Portuguese was a language of culture, poetry, and religion throughout not only Galicia and Portugal, but also Castile (where Castilian was used mainly for prose).

Portugal became independent in the 13th century while Galicia was annexed by the kingdom of Castile, leading to a separation between the languages. After this separation, Galician was considered provincial and was not widely used for literary or academic purposes until its renaissance in the mid-19th century. With the advent of democracy, Galician has been brought into the country's institutions, and it is now co-official with Spanish. Galician is taught in schools, and there is a public Galician-language television channel, TVG.

The linguistic status of Galician with respect to Portuguese is controversial. Some authors, such as Lindley Cintra, [Lindley Cintra, Luís F. PDFlink| [ "Nova Proposta de Classificação dos Dialectos Galego-Portugueses"] |469 KiB Boletim de Filologia, Lisboa, Centro de Estudos Filológicos, 1971 (in Portuguese).] consider that they are still dialects of a common language, in spite of superficial differences in phonology and vocabulary. Others, such as Pilar Vázquez Cuesta, [ Vázquez Cuesta, Pilar [ «Non son reintegracionista»] , interview given to "La Voz de Galicia" on 22/02/2002 (in Galician).] argue that they have become separate languages due to major differences in phonetics and vocabulary usage, and, to a lesser extent, morphology and syntax. The official position of the Galician Language Institute is that Galician and Portuguese should be considered independent languages. The standard orthography is noticeably different from the Portuguese one partly because of the divergent phonological features and partly due to the use of Spanish orthographic conventions.

Spain has recognized Galician as one of Spain's four "official languages" ("lenguas españolas"), the others being Castilian (also called "Spanish"), Catalan (or Valencian), and Basque. Galician is taught at primary and secondary school and used at the universities in Galicia. Further, it has been accepted orally as Portuguese in the European Parliament and used as such by, among others, the Galician representatives José Posada, Camilo Nogueira and Xosé Manuel Beiras.


On six of the seven inhabited islands of Hawaii, Hawaiian was displaced by English and is no longer used as the daily language of communication. The one exception is Niʻihau, where Hawaiian has never been displaced, has never been endangered, and is still used almost exclusively. Native speakers of Niʻihau Hawaiian are able to use a manner of speaking among themselves which is significantly different from the Hawaiian of the other islands, so different that it is unintelligible to non-Niʻihau speakers of Hawaiian.

Efforts to revive the language have increased in recent decades. Hawaiian language "immersion" schools are now open to children whose families want to retain (or introduce) Hawaiian language into the next generation. The local NPR station features a short segment titled "Hawaiian word of the day." Additionally, the Sunday editions of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin feature a brief article called "Kauakukalahale", written entirely in Hawaiian by a student.


Hebrew was revived as a spoken language two millennia after it ceased to be spoken, and is considered a language revival "success story". The language was extinct as a spoken language until the 19th century when it was revived by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda; prior to that, though respected and preserved as the holy language of Judaism, it was considered impractically archaic or too sacred for day-to-day communication, although it was, in fact, used as an international language between Jews who had no other common tongue, with several Hebrew-medium newspapers in circulation around Europe at the beginning of the 19th century, and a number of Zionist conferences being conducted exclusively in Hebrew. It is now, however, spoken by over 7,000,000 people. Most of these live in Israel, where Hebrew is the official and most commonly-spoken language, but many in Jewish communities outside Israel have undertaken its study.


Leonese was recognised as a seriously endangered language by UNESCO, in 2006. The only legal reference to this language is in the Autonomy Statute of Castile and Leon.The Province of León government supports the knowledge of this language through courses, by celebrating "Leonese Language Day" and by sponsoring literary efforts in the Leonese Language, such as "Cuentos del Sil", where nine writers from teenagers to people in their eighties develop several stories in Leonese.Leonese Local Government uses Leonese Language in some of their bureaus, organize courses for adult people and in 2007 organized Leonese Language Day. Leonese Local Government Official Web Site uses Leonese Language.Leonese Language is taught in two schools of León's city since febreuary, 2008. Local authority for Education told it would be taught in all leonese schools next course.


Manx ceased to function as a community language during the first quarter of the 20th century, but was revived by enthusiasts at a time when there were still a number of native speakers alive. Although, at one point, no native speakers of the language were alive and it may have been officially be classified as "dead" in 1975. The revival appears to have gained strength in recent years. There is a regular programme in Manx on Manx Radio. As of 2006 there were forty-six pupils undergoing their education through the medium of Manx at the _gv. "Bunscoill Ghaelgagh".


While never really endangered, Mirandese has always had a very small number of speakers in northeastern Portugal, with native speakers numbering about 500 in isolated villages. It may become endangered by modern political and cultural pressures, especially given that it has a history of being perceived as "useless" and "rural". However, the language has gained official status and has started to be learned along with Portuguese in schools. It has recently lost much of its negative public image in light of the fact that it is a language that emerged from Vulgar Latin in the same way as Portuguese. Today, second language speakers may number as many as 15,000.

West Frisian

Until the 15th century, Frisian was a widely spoken and written language, but from 1500 onwards it became an almost exclusively oral language, mainly used in rural areas. This was in part due to the occupation beginning in 1498 of its stronghold, the Dutch province of Friesland (Fryslân), by Duke Albert of Saxony, who replaced the language of government from Frisian to Dutch. This practice went on under the Habsburg rulers of the Netherlands and continued after the Netherlands attained independence.

Around 1820, the language staged a spontaneous comeback and an entire generation of West Frisian authors and poets appeared.

The number of speakers of the West Frisian language stabilised in the second part of the twentieth century and due to a bigger population and an increasing number of second language speakers it can be said that the number of West Frisian speakers currently is higher than it ever has been.


ee also

*Language policy
*Language death
*Minority language
*Regional language

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