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Language Death


  • 1 table
  • Page extent: 208 pages
  • Size: 216 x 138 mm
  • Weight: 0.4 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 417/.7
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: P40.5.L33 C79 2000
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Language obsolescence

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521653213 | ISBN-10: 0521653215)

Replaced by 9780521012713

 (Stock level updated: 02:09 GMT, 28 November 2015)


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 6000 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. The 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 1000 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 do 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

Professor David Crystal, a linguistics expert, whose book Language Death examines the prospects for 3,000 endangered languages.' in an article on Celtic languages.' Independent on Sunday

'Fascinating to the specialist and non-specialist alike, this is an important book which puts across its point in clear accessible prose.' Contemporary Review

'… inspiring by its inexhaustible optimism and its firm belief that something can and should be done …'. Asian and African Studies

'Thanks to his skilful deployment of statistics, his book brings out starkly the scale of language loss that we are currently experiencing …'. The Linguist

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