Foundation for Endangered Languages

Home | Manifesto | Membership details | Proceedings | Grant Applications | Newsletter | Links | Bibliography


10. Publications of Interest

Malintzin: bilingüismo y alfabetización en la Sierra de Tlaxcala, Norbert Francis, Ediciones Abya-yala, 1997, 508 pages, in Spanish.

Malintzin, Cortez' bilingual interpreter (in the modern Náhuatl of Central Mexico: beloved, girlfriend, bride) embodied the first attempts at intercultural communication between Europe and America. Today, the highest point in the Tlaxcalan highlands, the now inactive volcano stands vigil over the indigenous communities that have precariously struggled to maintain their ancestral language. In "Bilingüismo y alfabetización [bilingualism and literacy] en la Sierra de Tlaxcala, the author reports on an extensive study of language and literacy development in one of the Sierra's few remaining bilingual towns where Náhuatl is still spoken by most children.

Chapter 1 - The research questions: democracy and vernacular languages, the limits of pluralism.

Chapter 2 - Vygotsky and the debate on orality and writing; the oral antecedents of literacy.

Chapter 3 - Bilingualism and cognitive development, language and thought, models of second language acquisition and teaching.

Chapter 4 - The social context of biliteracy: diglossia and language conflict, vernacular literacy and the development of academic discourse, a sociolinguistic profile of the indigenous communities.

Chapter 5 - Assessment issues and schema theory, integrative evaluation of language and literacy in Spanish and Náhuatl.

Chapter 6 - Field work notebook and survey of classroom-based assessment, bilingual applications of miscue analysis, cloze, the language dominance interview.

Chapter 7 - Findings: oral narrative, reading comprehension, written expression, child language attitudes.

Chapter 8 - Discussion: the transactional model, the oral/written interface, transfer and interference, discourse competence and metalinguistic awareness, child and parent perceptions of diglossia and language loss.

Chapter 9 - A model for bilingual education, biliteracy development, and indigenous language maintenance.

29 graphics and maps, children's writing samples in Spanish and Náhuatl.

Order from: Ediciones Abya-Yala, Avenida 12 de Octubre 14-30 y Wilson, Casilla 17-12-719, Quito, Ecuador, enlace(at) $29.00 (includes shipping and handling). ISBN 9978-04-333-0 For more information: norbert.francis(at)

Repenser l’École
A special edition of "Ethnies": "Répenser l'école: témoignages et expériences en milieu". New ideas about eductaion in minority communities, with contributions ranging from Greenland to Australia, Siberia, to North Africa.

Survival International, France
45, rue du Faubourg du Temple, F-75010 Paris
tel. +33-1-42414762, E-mail: survival(at)
"Ethnies" (n. 22-23, hiver 1997) FF 120 + FF16 postage. (They do not accept Eurocheques.)



The Native Speaker: Multilingual Perspectives, R.Singh, ed., 1998, Sage Publications.
(Contributors: Annamalai, Dasgupta, D'souza, Ford, Ikome, Kandiah, Mohanan, Mufwene, Muysken, Paradis, Pattanayak and Prabhu)
ISBN 0-7619-9213-8
Available from:
Sage Publications, 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks,California 91320,USA, or 6 Bonhill Street, London, EC2A 4PU, England.

Endangered Languages: Current Issues and Future Prospects. Ed. Lenore A. Grenoble and Lindsay J. Whaley. 1998, Cambridge University Press.

This work is an extended version of the proceedings of the conference held at the University of Dartmouth, New Hampshire, in 1995 (and reviewed by the this editor in FEL Iatiku #1 - May 1995), but it reads like a purpose-edited volume.

The contributions to the volume fall into 4 categories. Chapters by Dorian, and Grenoble & Whaley, provide an overview of language endangerment. Grinevald, England, Jacobs and Nora & Richard Dauenhauer describe the situation confronting threatened languages from both a linguistic and a sociological perspective. The too little studied issue of what can be lost as a language ceases to be spoken is addressed by Mithun, Hale, Jocks and Woodbury. In the last section, Kapanga, Myers-Scotton and Vakhtin consider the linguyistic processes which underlie language attrition.

Christopher Moseley’s review of this book will appear in the next Ogmios.

The Rise and Fall of Languages. R.M.W. Dixon. 1998, Cambridge University Press. (169 pp.) The book (or essay) itself carries two separate messages. One is an attempt at a new theory of comparative linguistics. The other is a passionate plea for linguists to do what they should do, before it's too late.

Thousands of languages will be irretrievably lost in the next hundred years or so, and there is nothing we can do about it. Dixon conveys this disturbing message forcefully, while at the same time urging us ('people who call themselves linguists') to literally drop everything and record the languages that are still extant NOW.

The most important task in linguistics today -- indeed, the only really important task -- is to get out in the field and describe languages, while this can still be done. [Other things] can wait; that will always be possible. Linguistic description must be undertaken now.
If this work is not done soon it can nver be done. Future generations will then look back at the people who call themselves 'linguists' at the close of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first century, with bewilderment and disdain.

I would like to thank Miguel Carrasquer Vidal from whom I have borrowed this descriptive beginning. The remainder of his review provides firece counterargument to some of Dixon’s theoretical claims. But all would agree that the book is a pungent and thought-provoking statement of the situation confronting descriptive and histrorical linguistics (Ed.)