On the Death and Life of Languages

On the Death and Life of Languages

by Claude Hagege (Hagege)
     
 

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Twenty-five languages die each year; at this pace, half the world’s five thousand languages will disappear within the next century. In this timely book, Claude Hagège seeks to make clear the magnitude of the cultural loss represented by the crisis of language death.

By focusing on the relationship of language to culture and the world of ideas, Hagè

Overview

Twenty-five languages die each year; at this pace, half the world’s five thousand languages will disappear within the next century. In this timely book, Claude Hagège seeks to make clear the magnitude of the cultural loss represented by the crisis of language death.

By focusing on the relationship of language to culture and the world of ideas, Hagège shows how languages are themselves crucial repositories of culture; the traditions, proverbs, and knowledge of our ancestors reside in the language we use. His wide-ranging examination covers all continents and language families to uncover not only how languages die, but also how they can be revitalized—for example in the remarkable case of Hebrew. In a striking metaphor, Hagège likens languages to bonfires of social behavior that leave behind sparks even after they die; from these sparks languages can be rekindled and made to live again.

Editorial Reviews

Matthias Brenzinger

“This book brings forward a French perspective into the global debate on the endangerment of the world's language and cultural heritage. Hagège resourcefully shares his thought-provoking analysis of the dynamics in the development of language diversity.”—Matthias Brenzinger, University of Cologne

Nicholas Ostler

“With a distinctive and rich approach, Claude Hagège—one of today’s most celebrated linguists in France—addresses language endangerment against quite widely drawn historical and geographical backgrounds. This book provides a comprehensive tour d’horizon.”—Nicholas Ostler, Chairman, Foundation for Endangered Languages

Ghi&lgrave;ad Zuckermann

"An impressive book on an issue of great importance by a most accomplished linguist. Hagège warns that, though there are currently 5,000 languages, by 2100 there will only be 2,500, blaming our indifference as the cause of this catastrophe. He believes that we can—and should—do something to counter this threat. That is, we should not allow languages to die."—Ghi&lgrave;ad Zuckermann, The University of Queensland, Australia

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300137330
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
09/22/2009
Series:
An Editions Odile Jacob Book Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Claude Hagège is the Chair of Linguistic Theory at the Collège de France in Paris. He is the author of more than fifteen books and the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Gold Medal from Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Jody Gladding is an award-winning poet and translator, and author of Stone Crop, which appeared in the Yale Younger Poets Series.

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