Reviving Unique Words: The Niche of Scientific Names

Reviving Unique Words: The Niche of Scientific Names

By David Nash

The concept of ‘endangered word’ is defined. The possibility of a word being ‘the same
word’ across more than one language allows for recognition of degrees of endangerment of a
word. The rarer a word is cross-linguistically, the more it is at risk of fading away. A minor way
to continue an endangered word, and thereby reduce its endangerment, is to incorporate it into
scientific terminology, in particular into a standard biological (Linnæan) name. Some examples
are given of how scientific borrowing has popularised words from severely disused languages,
and of recent adoption of terms from currently endangered languages.

Documentation of Endangered Languages

Sally Thomason has a new book chapter out on the pitfalls of documenting endangered languages. Book details follow:

Responses to Language Endangerment

In honor of Mickey Noonan

Edited by Elena Mihas, Bernard Perley, Gabriel Rei-Doval and Kathleen Wheatley

This volume further complicates and advances the contemporary perspective on language endangerment by examining the outcomes of the most commonly cited responses to language endangerment, i.e. language documentation, language revitalization, and training. The present collection takes stock of many complex and pressing issues, such as the assessment of the degree of language endangerment, the contribution of linguistic scholarship to language revitalization programs, the creation of successful language reclamation programs, the emergence of languages that arise as a result of revitalization efforts after interrupted transmission, the ethics of fieldwork, and the training of field linguists and language educators. The volume’s case studies provide detailed personal accounts of fieldworkers and language activists who are grappling with issues of language documentation and revitalization in the concrete physical and socio-cultural settings of native speaker communities in different regions of the world.
[Studies in Language Companion Series, 142]  2013.  xv, 273 pp.