Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us

Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us

Author(s): Nicholas Evans

Published Online: 30 APR 2009

Print ISBN: 9780631233053

Online ISBN: 9781444310450

DOI: 10.1002/9781444310450

Series Editor(s): David Crystal

About this Book

The next century will see more than half of the world's 6,000 languages become extinct, and most of these will disappear without being adequately recorded. Written by one of the leading figures in language documentation, this fascinating book explores what humanity stands to lose as a result.

  • Explores the unique philosophy, knowledge, and cultural assumptions of languages, and their impact on our collective intellectual heritage
  • Questions why such linguistic diversity exists in the first place, and how can we can best respond to the challenge of recording and documenting these fragile oral traditions while they are still with us
  • Written by one of the leading figures in language documentation, and draws on a wealth of vivid examples from his own field experience
  • Brings conceptual issues vividly to life by weaving in portraits of individual 'last speakers' and anecdotes about linguists and their discoveries

Table of contents

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  1. Part I: The Library of Babel

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  2. Part II: A Great Feast of Languages

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  3. Part III: Faint Tracks in an Ancient Wordscape: Languages and Deep World History

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  4. Part IV: Ratchetting Each other Up: The Coevolution of Language, Culture, and Thought

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  5. Part V: Listening while We can

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