Expanded Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale
EGIDS is an expansion of Joshua Fishman's Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale. Fishman first introduced GIDS in his book Reversing Language Shift There are eight levels in GIDS, which distinguishes languages on the more vital side of things. When GIDS was applied to languages outside of Europe, problems arose. Paul Lewis and Gary Simons took the task of expanding GIDS so that any language in the world could be scored using it, hence the Expanded Intergenerational Disruption Scale. To do this they combined GIDS with UNESCO's six level scale (Brenzinger et. al. 2003). The UNESCO scale focused more on endangered languages labeling anything above a 6 on GIDS as "Safe". By combining the two scales, they came up with a 13 level scale that is rich enough in every category to score any language in the world. Each level has a number and label, given in the table below.
|0||International||The language is used internationally for a broad range of functions.|
|1||National||Language used in education, work, mass media, govt at the nationwide level.|
|2||Regional||The language is used for local and regional mass media and govt services.|
|3||Trade||The language is used for local and regional work by both insiders and outsiders.|
|4||Educational||Literacy in language is being transmitted through a system of public education. This is considered the level of sustainable literacy. In order to be scored a 4 the language must be at, or above a 4 in all FAMED conditions.|
|5||Written||The language is used orally by all generations and is effectively used in written form in parts of the community.|
|6a||Vigorous||The language is used orally by all generations and is being learned by children as their first language. This is considered the level of sustainable orality. In order to be scored a 6a the language must be at, or above a 6a in all FAMED conditions.|
|6b||Threatened||The language is used orally by all generations but only some of the child-bearing generation are transmitting it to their children.|
|7||Shifting||The child-bearing generation knows the language well enough to use it among themselves but none are transmitting it to their children.|
|8a||Moribund||The only remaining active speakers of the language are members of the grandparent generation.|
|8b||Nearly Extinct||The only remaining speakers of the language are members of the grandparent generation or older who have little opportunity to use the language.|
|9||Dormant||The language serves as a reminder of heritage identity for an ethnic community. No one has more than symbolic proficiency. This is the level of sustainable identity. This is the state where no fully proficient speakers remain but the language is still closely associated with the community identity and is used as a symbolic marker and reinforcer of that identity.|
|10||Extinct||No one retains a sense of ethnic identity associated with the language, even for symbolic purposes. This is the level of sustainable history.|
from Lewis and Simons Assessing Endangerment: Expanding Fishman's GIDS (2010).
Sustainable Use Model
The EGIDS table above references levels of sustainability. There are four levels of sustainable use:
- Sustainable History: This corresponds to EGIDS level 10
- Sustainable Identity: This corresponds to EGIDS level 9
- Sustainable Orality: This corresponds to EGIDS level 6a
- Sustainable Literacy: This corresponds to EGIDS level 4
The idea is that a language is in a transitory state if it resides between these sustainable levels. It will either move up the scale toward a higher level of sustainability if active language development is occurring, or it will slide down the scale to a lower level of sustainability if there is no language development occurring. So if a language is a 6b, it is missing something crucial to keep up from the sustainable orality level of 6a. If something is not done to develop the language, it will never be a 6a and will in fact slide down to the sustainable identity level, EGIDS 9, eventually.
A language is at the level of sustainable history when there are no longer any speakers of the language (L1 or otherwise), but there is enough documentation and it is being stored in a way to make it retrievable. All FAMED conditions must be at a level 10 or higher.
A language is at the level of sustainable identity when there is a group of people who identify with the language as a part of their heritage, but there are still no speakers. All FAMED conditions must be at a level 9 or higher.
A language is at the level of sustainable orality when the entire language community is using the language orally. This does not assume monolingualism, but that in a multilingual community, the language has its place and all members of the community use it according to those social norms. Also transmission to children is occurring in the entire community. All FAMED conditions must be at a level 6a or higher.
A language is at the level of sustainable literacy when the language has a written form, a corpus of some kind, and (most importantly) a sustainable institution teaching literacy to the community. A sustainable institution is most likely going to be government schools, but may be run by an NGO, or the community itself in some contexts. All FAMED conditions must be at a level 4 or higher.
The FAMED conditions have been referenced several times already in this page. They are:
- External Environment
- Distinct Niche (formerly Diglossia)
Put simply, the function condition asks us, "Is the language able to function in the domains the language community wants/needs?" If a language development program wants to help a language community get their language to the sustainable orality level (EGIDS 6a) they must ensure that the language is equipped for people to use orally in everyday life. This will probably include an aspect of what Cooper calls 'modernization' (1989:149-153, but be sure to read this book cover to cover). Can people talk about computers, cars, or refrigerators in their language? It is possible, and occurs frequently, that a language community uses a language other than L1 to talk about these things and be vital, but it is something to look at. Key Word development by Bible Translations (BT) organizations fit in quite nicely here.
A language moving toward sustainable literacy (EGIDS level 4) needs to have an orthography and a corpus that people want to read. You can see now that BT organizations excel in Function.
Here we are talking of how people learn to speak, and at higher levels read and write their language. What social structures are in place to help children learn to speak their language? At lower levels, language development in Acquisition could include encouraging older generations to teach their children and grandchildren to speak their language. At higher levels it will include literacy classes, or advocating for government schools to be taught in and teach the language. Again, BT organizations excel here.
In order for a language to be spoken, read, or written, people must want to do those things. Simply expanding the Functions of a language and making Acquisition possible will never be enough. Advocacy in the community will be essential, but never overlook the felt needs of the community. If the community feels there is no economic future in speaking their language, no amount of advocacy will change their minds. The community must have its issues answered one-by-one and with care. If people can see their social, economic, and religious needs can be met by their language, the motivation exists for them to continue to speak it.
The same is true with literacy. A community needs to feel motivated to use their language in a written form for sustainable literacy to be achieved. Can their social, economic, and religious needs be met by the written form of their language? If so, sustainable literacy is possible.
As the title suggests, this condition exists completely outside the control of the language community. If the government over the language community is against the use of the language, it will be very difficult for that community to retain sustainable orality. Simply speaking there are three different stances a government can take towards a language:
If there is a government policy against a language, and it is carried out (there is a difference between policy and action) it will be hard for that language community to retain use of their language, in literacy, orality, and possible even as a part of their heritage.
A neutral government has no policy against a language, but it also does not have one supporting the language. Primarily, this means there is no funding. Without funding from the government education in the language will be difficult or impossible. This means that sustainable orality is possible under a neutral government, but sustainable literacy will be very difficult, if not impossible. One other aspect of a neutral government is prestige. A language that the government doesn't support lacks prestige compared to a language that does have support.
Another important note here, a government can in fact have a positive policy toward a language, but if policy is not backed up with action it remains a neutral government. Some governments have hundreds of minority languages within its borders and supporting them all is just financially impossible. A positive policy is on the books and in an ideal world this government would have all the funds it needs to support every language, but reality intervenes, and practically the government remains neutral.
A government that is positive towards a language has a positive policy on the books, and backs it up, primarily with funding. Funding provides a language community with the possibility of sustainable literacy through institutionalized education in and of the language. A positive government can also help towards a high motivation to learn/use the language as well, but not necessarily.
Other External Environmental Factors
It is always important to remember that external factors include more than just secular national governments. We also need to look at other level of governments from the state and provincial level to the local level. Another potential factor in the external environment is religious institutions. In many areas of the world, religious institutions have more power than the secular government. Religious schools may exist where no government schools do, in that case the stance of the religious institution is just as important as the government's, if not more so.
The world is multilingual. In order for a language to be spoken in a multilingual society it must have a place. For sustainability to be possible at an level, the place of the language must be established by the society and held there through social norms. This can be thought of mainly in terms of language domains. In what contexts, with whom, where, and which topics, are different languages used in a society? These are the questions that need to be assessed. Monolingualism should not be the goal of a language development project. A stable set of social norms governing when a language is used will ensure the future of a language in that society. If there is a shift in those social norms, sustainability is threatened.
In previous literature this was called 'Diglossic Norms'. Everything that was said of it applies here.
FAMED Conditions Applied to EGIDS
Using this table it should be a simple task to score a language after a survey in the FAMED conditions. Using the FAMED scores an overall EGIDS score can be assigned. Remember that in order to be at any of the sustainable levels in EGIDS, the score must be at or above the sustainable level in all FAMED conditions.
|Level||Function||Acquisition||Motivation||External Environment||Distinct Niche|
|4: Educational Sustainable Literacy||Adequate vernacular literature exists in every domain for which vernacular writing is desired.||Vernacular literacy is being taught by trained teachers under the auspices of a sustainable institution.||Members of the language community perceive the economic, social, religious, and identificational benefits of reading and writing in the local language.||Official government policy calls for the cultivation of this language and cultural identity and the government has put this policy into practice by sanctioning an official orthography and using its educational institutions to transmit local language literacy.||Members of the language community have a set of shared norms as to when to use the local language orally and in writing versus when to use a more dominant language.|
|5: Written||Enough literature exists in some domains to exemplify the value of vernacular literacy.||There are adequate materials to support vernacular literacy instruction and some members of the community are successfully using them to teach others to read and write the language.||Some members of the language community perceive the benefits of reading and writing their local language, but the majority still do not.||Official government policy encourages the development of this language. OR Official government policy has nothing to say about ethnolinguistic diversity or language development and thus raises no impediment to the use and development of this language.||Members of the language community have a set of shared norms as to when to use the local language orally versus when to use a more dominant language, but for writing, some members of the language community use the local language in written form for particular functions while others use a more dominant language for many of the same functions.|
|6a: Vigorous Sustainable Orality||Adequate oral use exists in every domain for which oral use is desired (but there is no written use).||There is full oral transmission of the vernacular language to all children in the home (literacy acquisition, if any, is in the second language).||Members of the language community perceive the economic, social, religious, and identificational benefits of using their language orally, but they perceive no benefits in reading and writing it.||Official government policy affirms the oral use of the language, but calls for this language to be left in its current state and not developed.||Members of the language community have a set of shared norms as to when to use the local language orally versus when to use a more dominant language, but they never use the local language in written form.|
|6b: Threatened||Adequate oral use exists for some domains for which oral use is desired (but not for all).||The language is used orally within all generations but only some of the child-bearing generation are transmitting it to their children in the home.||Members of the child-bearing generation perceive the benefit of using their language orally for some purposes, but for others find more benefit in shifting to a more dominant language.||(as above)||Some members of the child-bearing generation use the local language orally for functions that were traditionally reserved for the local language, while others use a more dominant language for many of the same functions.|
|*7: Shifting *8a: Moribund *8b: Nearly extinct||There are entire generations that no longer have full oral use of the language.||The only transmission of the languages is for identificational use (often in institutional settings rather than the home).||The child-bearing generation finds no practical benefit in speaking the language, though they may still find sentimental benefit.||(as above)||(as above)|
|9: Dormant Sustainable Identity||Enough oral use exists to symbolize the identity of the group (but not for full communication). OR Adequate documentation of the language exists so that revitalization would be possible.||(as above)||Members of the language community have a strong sentimental attachment to their language, but are no longer able to speak it regularly.||(as above)||The only remaining domain of local language use is identificational.|
|10: Extinct Sustainable History||Enough documentation of the language exists to ensure the historical identity of the people.||There is no transmission of the language.||Descendants of the language community have abandoned all use of their heritage language and do not regret it.||Official government policy is hostile toward ethnolinguistic diversity and calls for the elimination or suppression of this language.||Descendants of the language community use the dominant language for all functions (oral and written).|
from Lewis and Simons Strategy Formulation Model for Language Development (2010).
Brenzinger, M., A. Yamamoto, N. Aikawa, D. Koundiouba, A. Minasyan, A. Dwyer, C. Grinevald, M. Krauss, O. Miyaoka, O. Sakiyama, R. Smeets, O. Zepeda. 2003. Language vitality and endangerment. UNESCO Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting on Endangered Languages: Paris. Check out UNESCO's website for endangered languages
Cooper, Robert L. 1989. Language Planning and Social Change. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
Fishman, Joshua. A. 1991. Reversing language shift. Multilingual Matters Ltd: Clevedon, UK.
Fishman, Joshua A. (ed.). 2001. Can threatened languages be saved? Reversing language shift, revisited: A 21st century perspective. Multilingual Matters Ltd: Clevedon, UK .
Lewis, M. Paul, & Simons, Gary. F. (2010). Assessing Endangerment: Expanding Fishman's GIDS. Romanian Review of Linguistics, 55(2), 103-120. available online
Lewis, M. Paul., & Simons, Gary. F. (2010). Strategy Formulation Model for Language Development. Unpublished.