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date: 26 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Oxford Handbook of Endangered Languages’ purposes are (1) to provide a reasonably comprehensive reference volume for endangered languages, with the scope of the volume as a whole representing the breadth of the field; (2) to highlight both the range of thinking about language endangerment and the variety of responses to it; and (3) to broaden understanding of language endangerment, language documentation, and language revitalization, and, in so doing, to encourage and contribute to fresh thinking and new findings in support of endangered languages. This chapter introduces the thirty-nine chapters of this Handbook, which are addressed to the themes and approaches in scholarship on endangered language and to these objectives of the book. The authors introduce the criteria for determining whether a language is endangered and just how endangered it is, address the causes of language endangerment, review the reasons for why the language endangerment crisis matters, and discuss the variety of responses to it.

Keywords: endangered languages, language documentation, language revitalization, language conservation, linguistic diversity, language loss, language extinction, Catalogue of Endangered Languages, language obituary

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