In general, the indigenous languages have been in a disastrous decline since first European contact. Many languages have only a handful of elderly speakers, and if preceding cases are any indication, almost all of the traditional languages currently spoken could be gone within a generation. As it is, there are only at most twenty traditional languages that are being passed on to children and being used by them as a primary form of communication. The loss of indigenous languages goes together with the loss of detail in traditional knowledge.
Research on indigenous places best involves collaborative site
documentation combined with investigation of the narrative context and
related songs and other performance, and hence implies an
understanding of the local languages. A case study shows how
indigenous place names are treated or ignored in official toponymy.
The paper summarises current pressures on languages, and responses
including language maintenance activities such as:
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