The role of language attitudes in Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo's language revitalization efforts

Armida Carmen Hernandez, University of Texas at El Paso


In the United States, language preservation and revitalization efforts have taken on greater urgency as tribes spanning all across Indian Country, from Alaska to Florida, are collaborating with linguists, Native and non-Native, in a pitched fight to save their languages from decline and/or extinction. With respect to the causes of indigenous language loss, it is important to recognize that blame cannot be assigned exclusively to external pressures. Recognizing the strong interplay between language attitudes and language maintenance or loss, this study focuses on the role of language attitude in one particular Native American tribe’s language revitalization efforts, that of Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo. In an effort to uncover the role, significance, and effects that language attitudes have in Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo’s Tiwa language revitalization efforts, a comprehensive language survey was conducted, focusing on the three principal languages currently spoken in the tribal community, English, Spanish, and Southern Tiwa. Additionaly, a smaller number of free-form interviews were conducted which enabled participants to freely express themselves, thus providing their own unique perspectives in their own voices. The data collected was intended to be used to draw conclusions about who speaks which language, when, where, with whom, and how, all of which are indicative of language attitudes. In addition, the data collected would be an aid to understanding the mechanisms of language maintenance and shift. Finally, it was hoped that the information gathered through both the survey and interviews would prove useful for identifying ways in which Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo’s current Tiwa Language Program can be improved so as to increase its effectiveness in reversing the effects of language shift and promoting greater use of the Tiwa language among tribal community members. Other indigenous communities, particularly those whose original languages are competing for survival against multiple, more dominant languages, may find this study useful as a model for investigating the effects of language attitudes on their own efforts to preserve or revive their own tribal languages.^

Subject Area

Linguistics|Language|Native American studies

Recommended Citation

Hernandez, Armida Carmen, "The role of language attitudes in Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo's language revitalization efforts" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10250144.