on 9 January 2005
This slim book is perhaps the best one in which to start reading about the danger of massive extinction of languages in our world.
The author, who claims to care much about this worrying issue despite admittedly never having spent longer periods in any endangered language environment, does a pretty good job systematically examining the causes of language death and what could be done to halt the process. He not only points out the fact that often communities themselves are to blame for not doing enough to pass on their native tongues to the following generation, but also examines what may have lead them to do so.
One shortcoming of the book is that very few actual "real-life" cases are mentioned to illustrate his points and breathe life into the subject, and those few cases that are mentioned only get a few lines - this leaves the text somewhat dry and academic.
He has also devoted one chapter to "Why should we care?", and as usual in books about this issue, that is where his writing is weakest. I found his arguments rather unconvincing, but also unnecessary - I personally don't feel the need to have practical arguments to care about preserving languages, which I think should be considered valuable in their own right.
A valuable extra in the book is the appendix listing organizations devoted to the preservation of endangered languages worldwide.
on 5 March 2003
Having an interest in lesser used languages and a high regard for the author (acclaimed linguist, David Crystal) I purchased this book. I just could not put it down, until I had read from cover to cover. The most compelling, stimulating, enlightening and thought provoking language book I have ever picked up. Definately not one to pass by. I give this book my highest reccomendation.