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Phil Smith

Mark Abley

spoken here

With the ever increasing dominance of English, many of the world's languages are in great danger of being overwhelmed. InSpoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages Mark Abley talks to some of the speakers of such languages, and sees what they are doing about it.

Abley visits speakers of many different languages, including Yuchi, Manx, Provençal, Mohawk, Yiddish and Welsh, and brings home to the reader the uphill struggle which they have to keep the language in use. How much state support should speakers of minority languages expect? Will a desire to preserve the purity of a language result in useless infighting. Above all, to keep the language alive you need to persuade others to learn it, which is a much bigger commitment than simply offering noises of support. There is also the difficult decision of whether to try to make it the first language of your children, when up until now many people have tried to do just the opposite. All of this makes the successes in revitalising a language all the more surprising.

I found this to be a very readable book, and appreciated how Abley has managed to find great diversity of life stories in a world which moves towards every greater uniformity. It is also inspiring to hear just how much effort people will put in to saving their language, whatever the odds. info
Paperback 336 pages  
ISBN: 0618565833
Salesrank: 1032630
Published: 2005 Mariner Books
Amazon price $16.78
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Paperback 336 pages  
ISBN: 009946022X
Salesrank: 595981
Weight:0.35 lbs
Published: 2005 Arrow
Amazon price £8.99
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Paperback 336 pages  
ISBN: 0679311998
Salesrank: 56039
Weight:0.75 lbs
Published: 2004 Vintage Canada
Amazon price CDN$ 19.80
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 16.99:Used from CDN$ 7.98
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Product Description
In Spoken Here, Mark Abley takes us on a world tour from the Arctic Circle to Oklahoma to Australia in a fervent quest to document some of the world's most endangered languages. His mission is urgent: Of the six thousand languages spoken in the world today, only six hundred may survive into the next century. Abley visits the exotic and frequently remote locales that are home to fading languages and constructs engaging and entertaining portraits of some of the last living speakers of these tongues. Throughout this exhilarating travelogue, he points out that the same forces that put biological species at risk -- development, globalization, loss of habitat -- are also threatening human languages, and with them, something very basic about their speakers' cultures.