The concern for the fast-disappearing language stocks of the world has arisen particularly in the past decade, as a result of the impact of globalization. This book appears as an answer to a felt need: to catalogue and describe those languages, making up the vast majority of the world's six thousand or more distinct tongues, which are in danger of disappearing within the next few decades. Endangerment is a complex issue, and the reasons why so many of the world's smaller, less empowered languages are not being passed on to future generations today are discussed in the book's introduction. The introduction is followed by regional sections, each authored by a notable specialist, combining to provide a comprehensive listing of every language which, by the criteria of endangerment set out in the introduction, is likely to disappear within the next few decades. These languages make up ninety per cent of the world's remaining language stocks. Each regional section comprises an introduction that deals with problems of language preservation peculiar to the area, surveys of known extinct languages, and problems of classification.
The introduction is followed by a list of all known languages within the region, endangered or not, arranged by genetic affiliation, with endangered and extinct languages marked. This listing is followed by entries in alphabetical order covering each language listed as endangered. Useful maps are provided to pinpoint the more complex clusters of smaller languages in every region of the world. The Encyclopedia therefore provides in a single resource: expert analysis of the current language policy situation in every multilingual country and on every continent, detailed descriptions of little-known languages from all over the world, and clear alphabetical entries, region by region, of all the world's languages currently thought to be in danger of extinction. The Encyclopedia of the World's Endangered Languages will be a necessary addition to all academic linguistics collections and will be a useful resource for a range of readers with an interest in development studies, cultural heritage and international affairs.