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Endangered Languages
An Introduction



Part of Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics

  • Date Published: April 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521684538

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About the Authors
  • Most of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world today will vanish before the end of this century, taking with them cultural traditions from all over the world, as well as linguistic structures that would have improved our understanding of the universality and variability of human language. This book is an accessible introduction to the topic of language endangerment, answering questions such as: what is it? How and why does it happen? Why should we care? The book outlines the various causes of language endangerment, explaining what makes a language 'safe', and highlighting the danger signs that threaten a minority language. Readers will learn about the consequences of losing a language, both for its former speech community and for our understanding of human language. Illustrated with case studies, it describes the various methods of documenting endangered languages, and shows how they can be revitalised.

    • Uses case studies and a wide variety of examples of situations involving endangered languages
    • Includes a glossary of technical terms to help readers gain a clear understanding of the concepts involved in language endangerment
    • Complete with an extensive 'Sources and further readings' section at the end of each chapter
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is a superb one-volume, single-author introduction to endangered languages. Full coverage, [an] accessible style, and illuminating examples will make this volume invaluable to novice fieldworkers and wonderfully resonant to veterans.' Nancy C. Dorian, Emeritus Professor, Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania

    'This book fills a longstanding gap in the study of language endangerment. Written by a leading specialist in the field, it is clear, accessible and thorough, and is certain to become the definitive textbook for the foreseeable future.' Lenore A. Grenoble, University of Chicago

    '… a clear and comprehensive introduction to the varied research being conducted on endangered languages, and with the focus on introducing aspects of fieldwork and methods involved, this work will hopefully pique the interest of many linguistics students to respectfully and thoughtfully engage in documentary and descriptive work that will benefit endangered language communities.' Jenanne Ferguson, Linguist List

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521684538
    • length: 242 pages
    • dimensions: 246 x 173 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • contains: 1 map
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Why and how languages become endangered
    3. Sliding into dormancy: social processes and linguistic effects
    4. What a community loses: language loss as cultural loss
    5. What science loses: language loss as a threat to our understanding of human history, human cognition, and the natural world
    6. Field research on endangered languages
    7. Language preservation and revitalization.

  • Resources for

    Endangered Languages

    Sarah G. Thomason

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  • Author

    Sarah G. Thomason, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
    Sarah G. Thomason is William J. Gedney Collegiate Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Michigan. Her previous publications include Language Contact: An Introduction (2001).

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