Tropical Tongues

Language Ideologies, Endangerment, and Minority Languages in Belize

By Jennifer Carolina Gómez Menjívar, William Noel Salmon

Tropical Tongues

Approx. 120 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, 3 maps, 2 tables, notes, bibl

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4139-3
    Published: February 2018

Studies in Latin America

Paperback Available February 2018, but pre-order your copy today!

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Distributed for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute for the Study of the Americas

Tropical Tongues: Language Ideologies, Endangerment, and Minority Languages in Belize examines the precarious state of languages in coastal Belize. In the period following the country's independence in 1981, Kriol has risen to the level of a national language. While the prestige enjoyed by English and Spanish is indisputable, a range of historical and socio-economic developments has given Kriol an elevated status in the coastal districts at the potential expense of more vulnerable minority languages also spoken there. Using fieldwork, ethnographic observations, interviews, and surveys of language attitudes and use, Gómez Menjívar and Salmon show the attenuation of Mopan and Garifuna alongside the stigmatized yet robust Kriol language. Language endangerment studies generally focus on the loss of a minority language to a European language. Tropical Tongues presents a fresh perspective on language shift and loss by examining how large-scale economic restructuring can unsettle relationships among minority languages.

An OPEN ACCESS EDITION will be available for this title in February 2018.

About the Authors

Jennifer Carolina Gomez Menjivar is an associate professor of Spanish and Latin American studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
For more information about Jennifer Carolina Gómez Menjívar, visit the Author Page.

William Noel Salmon is an associate professor of linguistics at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
For more information about William Noel Salmon, visit the Author Page.


“This is a small book that can become a game-changer in the scholarship on language endangerment. I would recommend it to those researching the subject matter even outside the Americas, such as in Africa.”--Salikoko S. Mufwene, Frank J. McLoraine Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics, University of Chicago