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Level Label Description
0 International The language is widely used between nations in trade, knowledge exchange, and international policy.
1 National The language is used in education, work, mass media, and government at the national level.
2 Provincial The language is used in education, work, mass media, and government within major administrative subdivisions of a nation.
3 Wider Communication The language is used in work and mass media without official status to transcend language differences across a region.
4 Educational The language is in vigorous use, with standardization and literature being sustained through a widespread system of institutionally supported education.
5 Developing The language is in vigorous use, with literature in a standardized form being used by some though this is not yet widespread or sustainable.
6a Vigorous The language is used for face-to-face communication by all generations and the situation is sustainable.
6b Threatened The language is used for face-to-face communication within all generations, but it is losing users.
7 Shifting The child-bearing generation can use the language among themselves, but it is not being transmitted to children.
8a Moribund The only remaining active users of the language are members of the grandparent generation and older.
8b Nearly Extinct The only remaining users 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, but no one has more than symbolic proficiency.
10 Extinct The language is no longer used and no one retains a sense of ethnic identity associated with the language.

How the EGIDS Works

The EGIDS is a multi-dimensional scale which focuses on different aspects of vitality at different levels. Like Fishman’s GIDS, the EGIDS, at its core, measures disruption in use. At the weakest levels of vitality, EGIDS 9 (Dormant) and EGIDS 10 (Extinct) the primary factor in focus is the function of the language as a marker of identity. If no one still associates the language with their identity, the language can be considered to be Extinct. If there is an ethnic group that associates its identity with the language but uses the language only for symbolic purposes to remind themselves of that identity, the language can be categorized as Dormant (EGIDS 9).

At EGIDS levels 6a (Vigorous), 6b (Threatened), 7 (Shifting), 8a (Moribund), and 8b (Nearly extinct) the primary factor in focus is the state of daily face-to-face use and intergenerational transmission of the language. Each successively weaker level on the scale represents the loss of use, generation by generation.

EGIDS 4 (Educational) and EGIDS 5 (Developing) bring into focus the degree to which the ongoing use of the language is supported and reinforced by the use of the language in education. This largely focuses around issues of standardization and literacy acquisition and the degree to which those are institutionally supported and have been adopted by the community of language users.

EGIDS 3 (Wider Communication) focuses primarily on the notion of vehicularity. If a language (whether written or not) is widely used by others as a second language and as a means of intergroup communication, it has greater vitality than a language with a smaller number of users and which is seen as being less useful by outsiders. Where we have data, we report the use of each language by speakers of other languages.

EGIDS 2 (Provincial) and EGIDS 1 (National) focus on the level of recognition and use given to the language by government. Beyond purely official use, however, the focus includes the widespread use of the language in media and the workplace at either the provincial (sub-national) or national levels. EGIDS 0 (International) is a category reserved for those few languages that are used as the means of communication in many countries for the purposes of diplomacy and international commerce. Because the Ethnologue organizes the language entries by country, EGIDS 1 (National) is the strongest vitality level that we report.

The EGIDS levels are hierarchical in nature. With only one exception, the scale assumes that each stronger level of vitality entails the characteristics of the levels below it. Thus, for example, a language cannot be characterized as EGIDS 5 (Developing) if it cannot also be characterized as being at EGIDS 6a (Vigorous). A language with written materials which is not used for day-to-day communication by all generations and which is not being passed on to all children cannot be categorized as EGIDS 5 (Developing). The one exception to this principle is EGIDS 3 (Wider Communication) where the vehicularity of languages of wider communication is counted as being weightier than the existence of an orthography and the use of the language in education. Some languages that are widely used for intergroup communication are not used in formal education and have no written materials. Were these languages to lose that vehicularity, they would drop directly to EGIDS 6a (Vigorous).

Source: http://www.ethnologue.com/about/language-status

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