On the Death and Life of Languages

On the Death and Life of Languages

Hardback Odile Jacob Books

By (author) Claude Hagège, Translated by Jody Gladding

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  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 368 pages
  • Dimensions: 147mm x 211mm x 33mm | 544g
  • Publication date: 2 October 2009
  • Publication City/Country: New Haven
  • ISBN 10: 0300137338
  • ISBN 13: 9780300137330
  • Sales rank: 1,622,543

Product description

Twenty-five languages die each year; at this pace, half the world's five thousand languages will disappear within the next century. In this timely book, Claude Hagege seeks to make clear the magnitude of the cultural loss represented by the crisis of language death. By focusing on the relationship of language to culture and the world of ideas, Hagege shows how languages are themselves crucial repositories of culture; the traditions, proverbs, and knowledge of our ancestors reside in the language we use. His wide-ranging examination covers all continents and language families to uncover not only how languages die, but also how they can be revitalized - for example in the remarkable case of Hebrew. In a striking metaphor, Hagege likens languages to bonfires of social behaviour that leave behind sparks even after they die; from these sparks languages can be rekindled and made to live again.

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Author information

Claude Hagege is the Chair of Linguistic Theory at the College de France in Paris. He is the author of more than fifteen books and the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including the Gold Medal from Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

Review quote

"With a distinctive and rich approach, Claude Hagege--one of today's most celebrated linguists in France--addresses language endangerment against quite widely drawn historical and geographical backgrounds. This book provides a comprehensive tour d'horizon."--Nicholas Ostler, Chairman, Foundation for Endangered Languages --Nicholas Ostler