Journals Higher Education



Published: 16 May 2002

256 Pages | 40 halftones, line illus & maps

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

ISBN: 9780195152463

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Vanishing Voices

The Extinction of the World's Languages

Daniel Nettle and Suzanne Romaine

Suzanne Romaine and Daniel Nettle argue that the loss of linguistic diversity is just as threatening as the loss of global biodiversity. Approximately half of all known languages have disappeared in the last five hundred years, and with the advent of global communication, the rate of extinction is accelerating to the level that, according to some, 90% of all languages are in danger of becoming extinct during the next century. The loss of both linguistic and biological diversity is part of a much larger and more serious problem - the near-total collapse of our worldwide ecosystem. Languages are enmeshed in social and geographical matrix just as animals and plants, and their demise is symptomatic of the illness and dealth of cultures and ways of life different from our own. Romaine and Nettle describe the background of this situation, how the current catastrophe occurred, and what can be done about it. They argue for the importance of maintaining diverse, localized responses to the environment, and show how the maintenance of different languages is necessarily linked to the diversity of human beings.


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