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Spoken here : travels among threatened languages
Abley, Mark.
Adult Nonfiction P40.5.L33 A25 2003

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From Publishers' Weekly:

There are roughly 6,000 languages in use in the world today, most of them spoken by a tiny number of people-further proof of humanity's ability to generate intoxicating variety. Sadly, the processes of linguistic imperialism may still be as strong as they have ever been; expansion of the major world languages, particularly English, is, according to Abley, likely to bring about the elimination of most of these languages by century's end. Canadian journalist Abley shrewdly frontloads his book with some of the most exotic languages before moving on to better-known cases (which are also considerably less at risk) such as Proven?al, Yiddish and Welsh. Readers who think they "get" how languages work may be startled by the considerable deviation from Western norms: for instance, Murrinh-Patha, spoken in Australia, boasts a bewilderingly complex system of pronouns; Mi'kmaq, from eastern Canada and Maine, and Boro, a northern Indian tongue, all but eschew nouns. To read these accounts of dwindling languages-and their often forlorn, marginalized speakers-is to gain insight into the powerful colonial forces still in play. Abley's informal approach makes this more a travel book than a language book; while describing the people and places in affecting detail, he sometimes stints in depicting the languages. Abley also sometimes conflates the extinction of a language with that of the people who speak it; however, his contention rings true that the disappearance of these languages represents "a loss beyond estimation." This generous, sorrow-tinged book is an informative and eloquent reminder of a richness that may not exist much longer. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In this lively travelog, journalist Abley, a winner of Canada's National Newspaper Award, travels around the world to capture cultures where languages are dying. With a journalist's sense for powerful quotes, he introduces readers to teachers in Wales and Australia, a novelist writing in Yiddish, the director of a choir that sings in Manx, and two DJs from a Mohawk-language radio program. Opportunities to promote language through mass media or music are contrasted with the hard choices individuals must make to use and pass on a language personally. The chapters on Yiddish and Hebrew offer perhaps the strongest views about the relationship between identity and language, since Jews have forged identities within many languages and cultures. These portraits of personal struggle distinguish Abley's work from similar publications, including Andrew Dalby's Language in Danger, which are more scholarly and examine larger linguistic trends. Unfortunately, the documentation is weak, with the "Sources" section marred by a failure to incorporate a conventional footnote or endnote scheme. But the strong storytelling makes this a solid purchase for public libraries.-Marianne Orme, Des Plaines P.L., IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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