Download The Vanishing Languages of the Pacific Rim by Osahito Miyaoka, Osamu Sakiyama, Michael E. Krauss PDF

By Osahito Miyaoka, Osamu Sakiyama, Michael E. Krauss

This booklet offers the 1st entire survey of the languages of the Pacific rim, an enormous sector containing the best typological and genetic range on the earth. It comprises the littoral areas of North and South the USA, Australasia, east and south-east Asia, and Japan, in addition to the Pacific itself. As its languages decline and disappear, occasionally with out hint, this wealthy linguistic history is swiftly eroding.

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Extra resources for The Vanishing Languages of the Pacific Rim

Sample text

As Ken Hale put it, it’s “like dropping a bomb on the Louvre”. g. g. of time and reality, subordination, evidentiality in its verb system, or of space and direction in its demonstatives, to pick just some examples, not necessarily the most abstract either. This becomes quite obvious to anyone who seriously tries to learn a new language. To sum up the second and third levels of the scientific argument, when we lose a language, we certainly lose not “just another set of words (for the same things)” but vast treasures of information, ideas, and even beyond that, we lose different ways of thinking, in fact ability, even freedom some would say, to think in different ways.

There is another kind of change noted by Jones in the shift from traditional Welsh to revitalized Welsh, and that is the loss of dialect diversity. Indeed, Jones’s discussion of dialect-specific features for both Rhymney (Jones 1998: 90–103) and Rhosllannerchrugog (Jones 1998: 188–206) shows that most dialect features investigated are being levelled out in favour of a generalized South Welsh in the case of Rhymney, a generalized North Welsh in the case of Rhosllannerchrugog, with even some of loss of distinctions between North and South Welsh, for instance in the case of lexicon.

As shown by D. Bradley (§ 16, this volume), an endangered language may well provide crucial archaic phonological material that aids in our understanding of the history of a language family and its speakers. 28 bernard comrie While linguists will surely never match geneticists’ success in retrieving DNA from 30,000-year-old Neanderthal remains, at least our discipline can make its contribution to our understanding of human prehistory by documenting, if not preserving, as much as possible. In the ensuing discussion, by documentation I will mean primarily documentation for linguistic purposes, while by revitalization I will mean revitalization for the purposes of the community.

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