Exploring Language and Human Flourishing
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Exploring Language and Human Flourishing

About the Book

Human flourishing is a frequent topic in the popular and academic literature, along with the annual surveys and reports that rank the happiest nations on earth. The king of Bhutan famously described the goal for his country as pursuing Gross National Happiness (over and above Gross National Product). Many disciplines have their own matrices by which to study human flourishing each with their own foci: health, feelings of happiness, brain activity when we're happy, economic prosperity, an absence of corruption, meaning and purpose, a clean environment, and religious involvement to name but a few.

Less commonly, and even infrequently, do studies make a connection between language and human flourishing. On the one hand, the relationship is so obvious as to make any point of connection meaningless. Of course, the languages in one's repertoire will have affect on certain aspects of human flourishing. On the other hand, those of us who spend time studying the local languages of the world and the communities that speak them intuit that there is some kind of causal relationship that is worth paying attention to. Ethnolinguistic vitality would seem to correlate, at least on casual observation, with overall community health and vitality. The goal of "Exploring Language and Human Flourishing," then, is to spawn research and understanding of the relationship between the overall well-being of an ethnolinguistic community and its language ecology.

This volume is a small start in that effort. It is a compilation of the papers presented at the online Pike Center Working Symposium on "Language and Human Flourishing," May 17-20, 2021. It is a new endeavor to make a connection between language and human flourishing for each of the authors here. The contributions are "working papers," and as such need further work and refinement through the process of peer review. It is hoped that at some point in the near future, we will be joined by a larger multidisciplinary group in a Pike Center Public Symposium. In the long run, we will consider the volume to have had some measure of success if it spawns a systematic reflection and study of the associated questions and assumptions inherent in the connection between language and human flourishing.

About the Editors

Steve Watters
Stephen Watters

Stephen Watters is Research Director in the Corporate Research Office of SIL Int’l.. He has an adjunct research position at the Language and Culture Research Centre, James Cook University, and is a Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Studies of Religion, Baylor University. He holds an MA in linguistics from the University of Texas at Arlington and a PhD in linguistics from Rice University. He has done fieldwork throughout South Asia and the Himalaya with interest in many aspects of sociolinguistics, linguistics, and translation.

Johannes Merz
Johannes Merz

Johannes Merz is a senior anthropology consultant for SIL International and lectures at Moorlands College, Christchurch, UK, and at the Theological College of Northern Nigeria, Jos, Nigeria. He holds a PhD in cultural anthropology from Leiden University, the Netherlands. His main areas of interests include various aspects of anthropology, religion, and media.

Table of Contents

  • Contributors
  • 1 Introduction
    • 1.1 Part one: Definitions
    • 1.2 Part two: Case studies
    • 1.3 Afterword
    • 1.4 References
  • 2 A Framework for Research on the Relationship between Language and Human Flourishing
    • 2.1 Introduction
    • 2.2 Some brief depictions of human flourishing
    • 2.3 Linguistic flourishing
    • 2.4 Linguistic poverty
    • 2.5 Empirical research on flourishing
    • 2.6 Human flourishing: a paradigm for engaging with endangered language communities?
    • 2.7 References
  • 3 Longing to See People Flourish: Toward an Inclusive Anthropological Approach to Human Flourishing
    • 3.1 Introduction
    • 3.2 Etic perspectives of human flourishing
    • 3.3 Etic and emic coevalness
    • 3.4 Toward an inclusive anthropology of human flourishing
    • 3.5 Studying the diversity of human flourishing
    • 3.6 Longing to see people flourish
    • 3.7 Conclusion
    • 3.8 References
  • 4 Language and Human Flourishing: From Linguistic Poverty to Linguistic Freedom
    • 4.1 Introduction
    • 4.2 Flourishing in theological, missiological, and organizational perspective
    • 4.3 Linguistic poverty defined broadly
    • 4.4 Linguistic freedom: The beginnings of a definition
    • 4.5 Conclusions
    • 4.6 References
  • 5 Linguistic Injustice as a Disruption to Human Flourishing: A Missiological Exploration
    • 5.1 Introduction
    • 5.2 Justice issues in language
    • 5.3 Missiological implications
    • 5.4 Conclusion
    • 5.5 References
    • 5.6 Appendix A: Terminology
    • 5.7 Appendix B: Notes on the “global language system”
    • 5.8 Appendix C: What is linguistic justice?
  • 6 Linguistic Hospitality as an Element of Human Flourishing
    • 6.1 Introduction
    • 6.2 Linguistic hospitality and human flourishing
    • 6.3 Linguistic hospitality and agency
    • 6.4 Linguistic hospitality and justice
    • 6.5 Linguistic hospitality and joy
    • 6.6 Practical expressions of linguistic hospitality
    • 6.7 Summary and concluding remarks
    • 6.8 References
  • 7 Linguistic Flourishing and Poverty in Diaspora Community: A Case Study about Korean-Americans
    • 7.1 Introduction
    • 7.2 Issues of insufficient linguistic agency
    • 7.3 Strategies to enable linguistic flourishing
    • 7.4 Conclusion
    • 7.5 References
  • 8 Spinning the Top: Translanguaging Pedagogy for Human Flourishing of Linguistic Minority Students
    • 8.1 Introduction
    • 8.2 Creation, fall, the cross, and human flourishing
    • 8.3 Linguistic repertoire, education, and human flourishing
    • 8.4 Translanguaging
    • 8.5 The Translanguaging Top Model
    • 8.6 TL Top Model and linguistic flourishing
    • 8.7 The TL Top Model and reconciliation with God
    • 8.8 Conclusion
    • 8.9 References
  • 9 Human Flourishing in Relation to Vernacular Bible Translation and Scripture Engagement
    • 9.1 Introduction
    • 9.2 What Is Human Flourishing?
    • 9.3 How Does Human Flourishing Relate to Biblical Flourishing?
    • 9.4 How Does Language Use Contribute to Human Flourishing?
    • 9.5 How Does Vernacular Language Translation Contribute to Human Flourishing?
    • 9.6 How Does Scripture Engagement Contribute to Human Flourishing?
    • 9.7 How Do We Measure Human Flourishing in Relation to Bible Translation and Scripture Engagement?
    • 9.8 A Case Study: The Una People of Papua, Indonesia
    • 9.9 Conclusions
    • 9.10 References
    • 9.11 Appendix A: Psalm 1
    • 9.12 Appendix B: Psalm 92
  • 10 Human Flourishing and Language and Identity Shift
    • 10.1 Language revitalization as health promotion
    • 10.2 Where language shift might not be disruptive
    • 10.3 Conclusion
    • 10.4 References
  • 11 Afterword: Moving Forward on Exploring Language and Human Flourishing
    • 11.1 References
  • Notes

About the Publisher

This book is published on Leanpub by Pike Center

Pike Center for Integrative Scholarship is an initiative of SIL International that builds capacity for language development through scholarship. SIL works alongside ethnolinguistic communities as they discover how language development addresses the challenging areas of their daily lives—social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual.

One of Pike Center’s strategies for building capacity is to grow the needed bodies of knowledge through its Agile Publishing program. We are using this lean publishing platform to give our affiliated scholars a platform for developing and refining new contributions to growing bodies of knowledge that support the language development movement. Many of our titles are still in a preliminary stage of development. Others are finished but have such a narrow audience that we have not elected to turn them into print books. Still others have reached the maturity of becoming a print book; in such cases, this is indicated by a link on the landing page for the book.

All of the revenues generated through sales on this site are directed to the Pike Center to support the on-going research activities of its affiliated scholars. Naming a higher price when you purchase one of our books is a way of contributing to this cause. Or you may go to the Pike Center website to make a donation that will receive a tax-deductible receipt.

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