How to Save a Dying Language

How to Save a Dying Language (Alia Wong)

The territorial government established English as the only official language in 1893. From then on, people caught speaking Hawaiian faced severe social ostracism. The English-only law had an immediate chilling effect that prevented subsequent generations of Native Hawaiians from learning their linguistic ancestry.

“We come to understand sorrow or love or joy or indecision in particularly rich ways through the characters and incidents we become familiar with in novels or plays,” wrote Kathy Carter, a University of Arizona education scholar who studies teaching and language, in a 1993 paper for Educational Researcher. “This richness and nuance cannot be expressed in definitions, statements of fact, or abstract propositions. It can only be demonstrated or evoked through story.”

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