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Vanishing Voices
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Table of Contents

1: Where have All the Languages Gone 2: A World of Diversity 3: Lost Words / Lost Worlds 4: The Ecology of Language 5: The Biological Wave 6: The Economic Wave 7: Why Something Should be Done 8: Sustainable Futures References and Further Reading Bibliography Index

Promotional Information

Recipient of the 2001 Book of the Year Award from the British Association of Applied Linguistics

About the Author

Daniel Nettle is the author The Fyem Language of Northern Nigeria and Linguistic Diversity (OUP). Suzanne Romaine is Merton Professor of English Language at the University of Oxford and is the author of Language in Society: An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (OUP). Vanishing Voices was awarded the 2001 Book of the Year Award from the British Association of Applied Linguistics.

Reviews

Creating an explicit link between ecological and linguistic vitality, Nettle (Ph.D., anthropology, University Coll., London) and Romaine (English language, Oxford Univ.) persuasively present the scientific value of saving endangered languages. Anecdotes, statistics, and graphs help address significant assumptions about why languages die and how a few languages have achieved world dominance. The authors provide useful background information and tackle underlying issues, some of which spurred another recent publication, Stephen G. Alter's Darwinism and the Linguistic Image (Johns Hopkins Univ., 1999). Among other books that offer detailed examinations of threatened languages are Endangered Languages, edited by Lenora Grenoble and Lindsay Whaley (Cambridge Univ., 1998), and Robert M.W. Dixon's The Rise and Fall of Languages (Cambridge Univ., 1998). Highlighting the wealth of scientific knowledge encoded in threatened languages, the authors promote not only bi- or multilingualism but also the economic and ecological benefits of cooperating with endangered language speakers. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.DMarianne Orme, West Lafayette, IN Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"Language extinction is a great tragedy for human culture and for scholarship on all things human. This fascinating book is the latest word on this important issue, containing a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. If we have the good sense to rescue the priceless legacy of linguistic diversity before it vanishes forever, Vanishing Voices will surely deserve a good part of the credit."--Steven Pinker, author of The Language Instinct and Words and Rules "Vanishing Voices is an urgent call to arms about the impending loss of one of our great resources. Nettle and Romaine paint a breathtaking landscape that shows why so many of the world's languages are disappearing and more importantly, why it matters. They put the problem of linguistic diversity into the wider context of global biodiversity, and propose the revolutionary idea that saving endangered languages is not about dictionaries and educational programs, but about preserving the cultures and habitats of the people who speak them. Along the way it's also a fascinating introduction to how language works: how languages are born, how they die, and how we can prevent their death."-- Deborah Tannen, Georgetown University "[A] superb study of endangered languages.... The tapestry of supporting detail is every bit as compelling as the central thesis-- from an examination of how indigenous languages function as museums of local culture to a history of the way in which dominant languages like English,Mandarin, and Spanish have vanquished more vulnerable tongues."--The New Yorker "Mr. Nettle and Ms. Romaine do an impressive job of identifying the process by which languages are abandoned or not passed down to the next generattion, framing it in terms of disparities in social, political, and economic status."--Red Herring "An authoritative overview of languages on the brink, rich in anecdote and shrewdly political.... Nettle and Romaine rightly remind us that we are living through one of history's unique mass extinctions. It is one measured in the dying whispers from lost worlds of words."--Robert Holt, Los Angeles Times "Recounting how the world's linguistic treasury has come to be depleted, Vanishing Voices is an impassioned polemic to halt the process before it is too late."--Steven G. Kellman, USA Today Magazine "Language extinction is a great tragedy for human culture and for scholarship on all things human. This fascinating book is the latest word on this important issue, containing a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. If we have the good sense to rescue the priceless legacy of linguistic diversity before it vanishes forever, Vanishing Voices will surely deserve a good part of the credit."--Steven Pinker, author of The Language Instinct and Words and Rules "Vanishing Voices is an urgent call to arms about the impending loss of one of our great resources. Nettle and Romaine paint a breathtaking landscape that shows why so many of the world's languages are disappearing and more importantly, why it matters. They put the problem of linguistic diversity into the wider context of global biodiversity, and propose the revolutionary idea that saving endangered languages is not about dictionaries and educational programs, but about preserving the cultures and habitats of the people who speak them. Along the way it's also a fascinating introduction to how language works: how languages are born, how they die, and how we can prevent their death."-- Deborah Tannen, Georgetown University "[A] superb study of endangered languages.... The tapestry of supporting detail is every bit as compelling as the central thesis-- from an examination of how indigenous languages function as museums of local culture to a history of the way in which dominant languages like English,Mandarin, and Spanish have vanquished more vulnerable tongues."--The New Yorker "Mr. Nettle and Ms. Romaine do an impressive job of identifying the process by which languages are abandoned or not passed down to the next generattion, framing it in terms of disparities in social, political, and economic status."--Red Herring "Vanishing Voices is a ground-breaking contribution to the growing literature on the phenomenon of language death and wider issues of biodiversity...this is a book that will certainly generate a great deal of discussion, and not just but linguists. Nettle and Romaine care about the issue and approach it with a sense of urgency."--General Linguistics

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