book notice: When Languages Die

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Tue Sep 23 15:06:11 UTC 2008

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From: Oxford University Press <Oxford_Univ_Press_ at>

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Key Features:

Weaves patterns of human behavior in an urban context that is
continuously changing, creating a deep appreciation about our own

A testimony to the remarkable span of human knowledge and ingenuity

When Languages Die
The Extinction of the World's Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge
K. David Harrison
ISBN: 9780195372069
Paperback, June 2008, 304pp.
List Price: $17.95

Harrison's book is the first to focus on the essential question of
what is lost when a language dies. What forms of knowledge are
embedded in a language's structure and vocabulary? And how harmful is
it to humanity that such knowledge is lost forever? Spanning the
globe, Harrison looks at the forms of knowledge that are dying out.

"When Languages Die reveals an astonishingly rich catalog of human
intellectual heritage and scientific knowledge on the verge of
disappearing as many of the world's small languages become extinct."
—Suzanne Romaine, Oxford University

About the Author:
K. David Harrison is Assistant Professor of Linguistics at Swarthmore
College. As a linguist and specialist in Siberian Turkic languages, he
has spent many months in Siberia and Mongolia working with nomadic
herders and studying their languages and traditions. His work on
endangered languages is also inspired the documentary film, "The

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