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.