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Lessons from Documented Endangered Languages

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This volume represents part of an unprecedented and still growing effort to advance, coordinate and disseminate the scientific documentation of endangered languages. As the pace of language extinction increases, linguists and native communities are accelerating their efforts to speak, remember, record, analyze and archive as much as possible of our common human heritage that is linguistic diversity. The window of opportunity for documentation is narrower than the actual lifetime of a language, and is now rapidly closing for many languages represented in this volume. The authors of these papers unveil newly collected data from previously poorly known and endangered languages. They organize highly complex linguistic facts­ - paradigms, affixes, vowel patterns­ - while pointing out the theoretically challenging aspects of these. Beyond this, they reflect on the social and human dimensions, discussing particular problems of nostalgia and modernity, memory and forgetting, and obsolescence and ethics, while viewing language as not merely data on a page but as a living creation in the minds and mouths of its speakers.

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