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10. Publications of Interest

Wurm, S.A. (ed.) 1996. Atlas of the world’s languages in danger of disappearing. Canberra/Paris: Pacific Linguistics/UNESCO. A Partial Review by Roger Blench

The notion that we need an atlas of the world’s endangered languages is an attractive one; all too frequently we read about some threatened speech-form and have only the vaguest notion of where it is spoken. As Stephen Wurm has been responsible for two major Language Atlases, of the Pacific and of China, I had high expectations of this volume. But unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, it is of limited use. This review will concentrate on Africa, since that is the region with which I am most familiar.

The African continent probably is home to some 2000 languages, one-third of the world total, and comparable only to Oceania in terms of diversity. Africa is the continent where the least work on the description of all but major languages has been carried out, and to say (p. 21) ‘A large amount of work on endangered African languages has been carried out by linguists from outside Africa…and also by linguists from institutions in African countries.’ is simply false. Compared with Oceania, the amount of work is vanishingly low and the rate of work produced is slowing down. Most endangered African languages are represented in the literature by little more than short wordlists. For crucial languages spoken by small foraging groups, such as Hadza, Dahalo, Ongota, Laal and the Khoisan languages little more than sketches are available. As my reports from Nigeria should show, much of the published information is anyway wrong.

This situation perhaps illuminates the difficulties of preparing a map for Africa on any useful scale. Africa is represented by two maps, one on a continent-wide scale, the other of East Africa. The key distinguishes;

Moribund languages
Extinct languages
Languages in danger
Autochthonous languages not in danger

This last category is rather similar to having statistics on undetected crime; half Africa’s languages fall into this category. From the map, it appears nine languages in Nigeria fall into this category (but not including Hausa) as opposed to the 200 you might estimate from the literature.

The Africa-wide map has the rather surreal feature that the languages are not identified in the key, so you are simply presented with a forest of symbols. The East Africa map does give language names, which is useful. However, it does not correspond to the Africa-wide map. Thus Somalia has two endangered languages according to one map and none according to the other. The literature on Somalia suggests a quite different pattern, of many endangered and moribund speech-forms other than those shown. The absence of Ongota from this map is somewhat puzzling as is the notion that Burji is threatened; an outlier in Kenya may be threatened but it is clearly alive and well in Ethiopia.

At least for Africa, the Atlas is sadly of little or no value. We need such an atlas, but it would require substantially more background work and documentation to ensure the maps present useful information.

Bosavi-English-Tok Pisin Dictionary (Papua New Guinea)
Bosabi Towo:liya: Ingilis Towo:liya: Pisin Towo:liya: Bugo:
Tok Ples Bosavi, Tok Inglis, Na Tok Pisin Diksineli

by Bambi B. Schieffelin and Steven Feld
Department of Anthropology, New York University in collaboration with Ho:ido: Degelo:,
Ho:nowo: Degili, Kulu Fuale, Ayasilo Ha:ina, and Da:ina Ha:waba:

This is a first dictionary of the language called Bosavi, spoken by less than two thousand people who live on the Great Papuan Plateau north of Mount Bosavi, a collapsed volcano in the Southern Highlands region of Papua New Guinea. Bosavi is a Papuan (i.e.,non-Austronesian) language that is part of the Central and South New Guinea stock of the Trans-New Guinea Phylum. The variety of the Bosavi language represented in the dictionary is principally that spoken in the central Bosavi area where people identify themselves and their language as Kaluli. Kaluli is one of four mutually intelligible dialects spoken in Bosavi. This book's contents include a 20 page introduction to the Bosavi language, a 150 page Bosavi-English-Tok Pisin dictionary, a 20 page concise English-Bosavi dictionary, and 8 appendices covering key areas of core vocabulary: family and relationship terms; body terms and counting system; the Bosavi longhouse; fish, reptiles, insects, animals and birds; forest, place and environment; food, food gathering and cooking; ways of speaking; sound words.


Published in December 1998; map, xx + 209 pages; ISBN 0 85883 513 6 A$31.60 US$ 22.20 (+ air postage to USA = US$ 28.40).

Available from:
Pacific Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, PO Box 1428, Canberra ACT 2601 Fax 61-6-249-4896 Publications/CoombsGuide.html

--Rosemary Henze

Authenticity and Identity: Lessons from Indigenous Language Education, edited by Rosemary Henze and Kathryn Davis.

I want to call your attention to a new theme issue of the Anthropology and Education Quarterly, just out this March. Since this is published by the American Anthropological Association, it may not be well advertised in linguistic circles.

It includes the following articles:

1. Authenticity and Identity: Lessons from Indigenous Language Education (Rosemary Henze and Kathryn Davis).

2. Adult Education, Language Change, and Issues of Identity and Authenticity in Kwara'ae (Solomon Islands) (David Gegeo and Karen Watson-Gegeo)



3. Language Revitalization and Identity in Social Context: A Community-Based Athabaskan Language Preservation Project in Western Interior Alaska (Beth Dementi-Leonard and Perry Gilmore)

4. "Authenticity" in California Language Restoration (Leanne Hinton and Jocelyn Ahlers)

5. "Kuleana": The Right, Responsibility,a nd Authority of Indigenous Peoples to Speak and Make Decisions for Themselves in Language and Cultural Revitalization (Sam No'eau Warner)

6. Authenticity and the Revitalization of Hawaiian (Laiana Wong)

7. Comments and Reflections (Joshua A. Fishman)

Single copies of the special issue can be ordered for $9 if you are a member of the American Anthropological Association, or $12 for non-members. Virginia residents add 4.5% sales tax. Address orders to:
American Anthropological Association
4350 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 640
Arlington, VA 22203, USA
+1 (703) 528-1902, ext. 3031

“Revitalizing Indigenous Languages”, Proceedings of SILC Symposium, May 1998

Announcing publication of "Revitalizing Indigenous Languages," a selection of papers presented at the Fifth Annual Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium "Strategies for Language Renewal and Revitalization" held in Louisville, Kentucky, in May 1998. The introduction and 11 papers discuss opportunities and obstacles faced by language revitalization efforts, programs and models for promoting indigenous languages, the role of writing role in indigenous language renewal, and how new technology is being used to compile indigenous language dictionaries, publish indigenous language materials, and link together dispersed indigenous language communities.

The papers are posted in their entirety at the Teaching Indigenous Languages Website at along with information on how the paperback version (available approximately 4/15/99) can be purchased along with the previous Stabilizing Indigenous Languages publications:
"Stabilizing Indigenous Languages" and "Teaching Indigenous Languages." The Website also has information on the June 3-5, 1999 conference being held at The University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.

The papers included are "Some Basics of Indigenous Language Revitalization" by Jon Reyhner; "Some Rare and Radical Ideas for Keeping Indigenous Languages Alive" by Richard Littlebear; "Running the Gauntlet of an Indigenous Language Program" by Steve Greymorning; "Sm‚algyax Language Renewal: Prospects and Options" by Daniel S. Rubin; "Reversing Language Shift: Can Kwak‚wala Be Revived" by Stan J. Anonby; "Using TPR-Storytelling to Develop Fluency and Literacy in Native American Languages" byGina P. Cantoni; "Documenting and Maintaining Native American Languages for the 21st Century: The Indiana University Model" byDouglas R. Parks, Julia Kushner, Wallace Hooper, Francis Flavin, Delilah Yellow Bird, and Selena Ditmar; "The Place of Writing in Preserving an Oral Language" byRuth Bennett, Pam Mattz, Silish Jackson, and Harold Campbell; "Indigenous Language Codification: Cultural Effects" by Brian Bielenberg; "Enhancing Language Material Availability Using Computers" by Mizuki Miyashita and Laura A. Moll ; "The New Mass Media and the Shaping of Amazigh Identity" by Amar Almasude; and "Self-Publishing Indigenous Language Materials" by Robert N. St. Clair, John Busch, B. Joanne Webb

Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 15:01:31 -0500
From: "Akira Y. Yamamoto" akira(at)UKANS.EDU
Reversing Language Shift in Indigenous America

The journal "Practicing Anthropology" (published by the Society for Applied Anthropology) has just released this. Included in the issue are: Introduction: Reversing Language Shift in Indigenous America: Collaborations and Views from the Field (Teresa L. McCarty, Lucille J. Watahomigie, and Akira Y. Yamamoto) Indigenous Education and Grassroots Language Planning in the USA (Teresa L. McCarty and Lucille J. Watahomigie)

Training for Fieldwork in Endangered Language Communities (Akira Y. Yamamoto) Interrupting White Mountain Apache Language Shift: An Insider's View (Bernadette Adley-SantaMaria)

Developing Awareness and Strategies for Tohono O'odham Language Maintenance (Ofelia Zepeda)

Language Shift and Local Choices: On Practicing Linguistics in the 21st Century (Patricia Kwatchka)

Reflections on Linguistic Fieldwork in Two Native American Communities (Jill Davidson) Acting Responsibly: Linguists in American Indian Communities (Gregory Bigler and Mary S. Linn)

Language, Culture, and Power: Intercultural Bilingual Education Among the Urarina of peruvian Amazonia (Bartholomew Dean)

Beyond Language in Indigenous Language Immersion Schooling (Arlene Stairs, Margaret Peters, and Elizabeth Perkins)

The issue is:
Practicing Anthropology, Volume 21, No. 2, 1999.
Cost is $5.00 per copy, and may be ordered from:
Society for Applied Anthropology, PO Box 24083, Oklahoma City, OK 73124, USA.
Phone+1-405-843-5113 e-mail: sfaa(at)