chapter  11
29 Pages

Assessing the damage: structural and lexical effects

One of the recurrent themes of this book has been that the very notion of separate languages is an imported one and that the process which has led to the emergence of Pacific and Australian ‘languages’ has at the same time accelerated their decline. We can appeal to an ecological metaphor and liken the selective breeding of languages to that of a small number of indigenous biological species. Such breeding not only requires a very considerable effort if the chosen species is to survive over longer periods of time, but also results in new varieties that are dependent on factors other than those encountered in the traditional ecology.