This work explores the ways in which cultural institutions, namely museums, libraries, and archives, can help save dying languages. It first introduces language preservation and revitalization as a field and then evaluates current efforts, including those outside the museum sphere. The question guiding this research is: Given the missions of cultural institutions, their collections, and their relationships with surrounding communities, how can these institutions successfully contribute to the preservation and revitalization of endangered languages in the long-term, and how might success be evaluated? The preservation of Scottish Gaelic will be considered as a specific case study by looking at several approaches, such as language policy, school and education, cultural institutions, and technology. While these efforts are making great strides, there will be anticipated gaps that museums can fill, for which suggestions will be discussed. To lose languages is also to lose the unique cultural insights of diverse communities, but with museums extending their reach beyond artifact preservation to language preservation, connection to those communities will strengthen.
Museum Studies (BS)
Department, Program, or Center
Department of Performing Arts and Visual Culture (CLA)
Cecilia Ovesdotter Alm
MacLaren, Katharine, "When Linguistics and Heritage Intersect: Language Preservation and Revitalization in Cultural Institutions" (2019). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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