The rapid endangerment and death of many minority languages across the world is a matter of widespread concern, not only among linguists and anthropologists but among all concerned with issues of cultural identity in an increasingly globalized culture. By some counts, only 600 of the 6,000 or so languages in the world are 'safe' from the threat of extinction. A leading commentator and popular writer on language issues, David Crystal asks the fundamental question, 'Why is language death so important?', reviews the reasons for the current crisis, and investigates what is being done to reduce its impact. This 2002 book contains not only intelligent argument, but moving descriptions of the decline and demise of particular languages, and practical advice for anyone interested in pursuing the subject further.
• A quarter of the world's languages are spoken by fewer than 1,000 people • Over the next century, something like two languages will die each week • Language Death offers both intelligent argument and practical advice for anyone interested in pursuing this urgent subject further
Preface; 1. What is language death?; 2. Why should we care?; 3. Why does languages die?; 4. Where do we begin?; 5. What can be done?; List of organisations; Further reading; Index of languages; Subject index.
'… this work is directed at anyone with an interest in humanities and a concern about our future as mankind. Its wealth of information, observation and analysis enlightens the mind and invigorates the spirit of community and identity.' Language International
'This is the most personal and passionate of the many excellent books that Crystal has written in the past two decades.' The Times Higher Education Supplement
'David Crystal [is] the most charismatic lexicographer since Dr Johnson.' Boyd Tonkin, Independent
'A serious study of why so many languages across the world are dying.' Hasan Suroor, The Hindu
'… this book lucidly reveals the complex truth about language death, and suggests a practical programme to avoid it.' Good Book Guide
'Crystal provides a very readable and non-technical analysis.' Christianpolitics
'… this book so succinctly fulfils the goals which the author set himself …'. Bulletin of the School of Oriental & African Studies
'Language Death is an excellent book with which Crystal sharpens our sense of the complexity of language endangerment and eventual language loss.' Anglia (Zeitschrift für Englische Philologie)