|dc.description.abstract||The consequences related to the loss of the worlds indigenous languages are not fully understood–the warnings as to the urgency of this issue largely unheeded, due in part to the enormity and challenges of regaining lost ground. The extreme nature of the problem as stated by the Endangered Language Fund is that, “never have we faced the massive extinction that is threatening the world right now…the cultural heritage of many people is crumbling while we look on” (cited in Crystal, 2002, p. vii). The progressive loss of spoken language is complex and exacerbated by a number of historic and present day factors, most of which relate to the number and age of speakers, the presence of a dominant language, and globalizing economic factors. Today, fewer than 40 fluent speakers remain in Haida Gwaii; all are over age seventy-five.
Efforts to maintain and revitalize languages focus predominantly on the use of immersion and other programs within the education system as a means of exposing children and youth to their language and encouraging the use of language within the home as a means of fostering the inter-generational transfer of language. Within this broad context, the use of tourism to support language development and language revitalization is an emerging field of inquiry. The link between tourism and language development, made by linguists such as Victor Golla, who posits that tourism might well provide the political, economic, and cultural rationale to support language communities.
Drawing on linguistics and tourism studies, this thesis posits that community-based tourism initiatives provide a culturally relevant setting to support the development and revitalisation of indigenous languages. Foundational to achieving this is an understanding that the effective use of tourism for this purpose is dependent upon supporting multi-dimensional language relationships within and outside the speaking community. This study draws on the perspectives of the Haida (people in British Columbia, Canada) to develop a deeper understanding of historic and present day language use within community-based tourism contexts. Further, the shared experiences and insights of those with knowledge of language and tourism issues in Hawaiʻi and Aotearoa New Zealand were sought in order to expand the scope and depth of this discussion. Their experiences and insights provided culturally relevant feedback to the Haida through the development of a cross-cultural method that linked these diverse communities to the foundational study site of Haida Gwaii. The study incorporated an indigenist methodology, drawing on participatory and narrative approaches, as a means of researching language and tourism issues with the Haida community. Informal and narrative interviews and participant observation were used to draw on the individual and collective knowledge of participants on indigenous language use within tourism. Forty-four interviews were completed: 23 in Haida Gwaii, 10 in Hawaiʻi, and 12 in Aotearoa. Broadly, 23 participants were involved in the tourism industry, 11 were traditional knowledge keepers or cultural experts, and 11 were linguists or language advocates.
The Haida’s creative and innovative efforts to expand the use of their language within tourism led to this exploration of how the community is currently supporting language within these contexts. While the link between tourism, language, and community is tenuous, there is a small but growing body of literature to suggest increased visitor interest and awareness within the industry that language is critical to sustaining indigenous cultures. What is absent from the literature is a clear understanding of how to reposition indigenous languages appropriately within community-based tourism and tourism related contexts. To this end, the research conceptualizes a language-based tourism framework to guide language development and revitalization based on why the language should be used, how the language should be used, and what must be done to share the language appropriately.||