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Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us
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Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  89 ratings  ·  12 reviews
The next century will see more than half of the world's 6,000 languages become extinct, and most of these will disappear without being adequately recorded. Written by one of the leading figures in language documentation, this fascinating book explores what humanity stands to lose as a result.

This book explores the unique philosophy, knowledge, and cultural assumptions of l
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Wiley-Blackwell
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3.84  · 
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 ·  89 ratings  ·  12 reviews

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Feb 05, 2012 rated it liked it
DYING WORDS by Nicholas Evans makes a case that the rapid disappearance of languages around the world risks depriving the human race of vital knowledge. Over the past decade or so, a number of books have been published about language diversity in danger and why it matters, but DYING WORDS is perhaps the most theoretically detailed survey so far. In spite of suggestions in the introduction that Evans is writing for a fairly popular audience (for example, he describes phonetic transcription and gl ...more
May 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australian
I often wanted Evans to expand on something fascinating (the connection between decreased language diversity and state formation; the specificity of words relating to the natural environment in Aboriginal languages and the impact of that linguistic data on land rights claims; social pressures engendering the widespread use of sign languages by hearing people in a number of cultures), but he'd usually move on. in that sense the book could've benefited from a clearer structure, maybe. but that fli ...more
Peter N.
May 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
The book was marred a little by not having a totally clear argument other than "marginal languages are important", but on that level it gives the reader, especially one unfamiliar with linguistics, a great overview of linguistic diversity. I thought that at times it focussed too heavily on the boons to Science with a capital S, rather than the immediate benefits to speakers of those languanges. Evans does make some effort to encourage the reader to value endangered languages (and multilingualism ...more
Dying Words has the unfortunate honor of being a fascinating book about an often sad subject: the rapid loss of human language diversity happening now. As Nicolas Evans convincingly writes, it's only by studying a large number of very different languages that we can begin to understand just how language came about and what linguistic universals, if any, exist in our cognitive capacity.

Much of the book recapitulates my linguistics studies - which is not a bad thing! - covering the essential grou
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wonderful combination of information on the development, variation and potentially dying of language, and portraits of specific dying languages and its last speakers. The scientific parts are solid and easy to follow, with a great diversity in languages and studies examples are derived from. The human parts, the portraits and the mentions of the author's friendships with the last speakers, are very warm and engaging. Good stuff.
Francis Bruynseels
A very passionate book - to its credit. It starts like it is going to be a detailed examination of the linguists belly button by using various aboriginal languages. After that it becomes a very informative book delving into numerous topics reflecting deep experience. Often the book is slightly politically incorrect, which is refreshing. However, the author frequently goes off into the humiliations suffered by minority languages and their speakers.
Oct 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
I think this book would be good as a textbook in an introductory linguistics course. The author is passionate about linguistics in general and the extremely obscure, dying-out languages in particular, and he has convinced me of the importance of both. I had no idea that languages could be so different, or say so much about a culture's history and mindset. This is the kind of book that might cause a young undergraduate student to seek a career in the linguistics field. I found it fascinating.
Samuel Cho
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For those linguistic bent, this is an absolutely rewarding read. In no way is this book dry or academic. To me, this book made me aware of all the hidden treasures locked in languages around the world. I can't help now but to wonder what there is to know, but that which we cannot know because of a language we don't speak.
Aug 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in-english
Great book. Many facts and many thoughts. A must-read for a linguaphile.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anfangs sehr, sehr interessant, allerdings fehlten mir die Beispiele für die verschiedenen sprachlichen Besonderheiten. Gegen Ende hin wurde es immer theoretischer.
Insgesamt 3 Sterne
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Très intéressant! C'est un peu complexe par moment, alors idéalement le lecteur devrait avoir une base en linguistique pour bien suivre.
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Goodreads Librari...: Book has incorrect author attached 3 40 Oct 03, 2012 07:57PM  
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  • The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax and Other Irreverent Essays on the Study of Language
  • The Linguistics Wars
  • Adam's Tongue: How Humans Made Language, How Language Made Humans
  • Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages
  • Language Myths
  • The Articulate Mammal: An Introduction to Psycholinguistics
  • Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World's Undeciphered Scripts
  • The English Language: A Historical Introduction
  • The Atoms Of Language: The Mind's Hidden Rules Of Grammar
  • Language: The Cultural Tool
  • Vanishing Voices: The Extinction of the World's Languages
  • Biting the Wax Tadpole: Confessions of a Language Fanatic
  • An Introduction to Historical Linguistics
  • Historical Linguistics: An Introduction
  • Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech
  • Old English and Its Closest Relatives: A Survey of the Earliest Germanic Languages
Holding a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the Australian National University, he is Head and Professor at the Department of Linguistics, Division of Society and Environment of the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies (RSPAS) at the Australian National University (ANU). Formerly, he was Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at the University of Melbourne. b. 1956 (Wik ...more