Sandhya Kritikka Narayanan: The social context of reawakening sleeping languages

Sandhya Krittika NarayananTitle

The social context of reawakening sleeping languages


Sandhya Krittika Narayanan




Sandhya Narayanan, Ph.D., is a linguistic anthropologist. Her work focuses on how minoritized and Indigenous identities are managed through language and multilingual practices.  She has done work on the intersection between Quechua and Aymara multilingualism and gender in the Peruvian Andes. She also does work on language reclamation, revitalization, and language maintenance projects in southern Peru, and in Southern New England. Narayanan’s research incorporates aspects of linguistic research and theory with ethnographic analysis to situate language, talk, and communication within a broader cultural and social framework.

Project overview

This project seeks to enhance linguistic and ethnographic approaches to language revitalization by looking at the social practices, discourses, and language ideologies around the revitalization or “reawakening” of sleeping languages. Sleeping languages are linguistic varieties that do not currently have any living speakers. This means that communities who wish to revitalize their ancestral language today are additionally challenged by the fact that they cannot refer to existing speakers, like community elders, as references for their heritage language. Reawakening a sleeping language however is not just a linguistic endeavor. It is also a social project shaped by local social and linguistic politics that influence how the language will re-emerge within the community.

This project will be a comparative one, looking at some of the social discourses surrounding the reawakening of Eastern Algonquian among tribal communities in Southern New England, and the reawakening of Uru-Chipaya in Peru. This project will focus on collecting and building a corpus of discourses for both these languages, that will serve as the baseline for further analysis of this project. The PREP awardee/student will search online newspapers, YouTube, and search across social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, TikTok) to build this corpus of discursive entries. The PREP awardee must be fluent in Spanish.

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