chapter  1
21 Pages

The changing linguistic ecology of the Pacific region

This book is about linguistic heterogeneity, its decline and the costs of such decline and loss. It is also a book about the study of human languages and the inability of most practising linguists to understand what is happening around them, that their very object of study is disappearing at an alarming rate, that the transition from polylingualism to monolingualism is accelerating, and that the prospects of survival of traditional languages and forms of communication are very slim indeed. To be sure, there is a growing body of literature on topics such as language death, minority languages, language maintenance and standardization. However, in most instances documentation is available for the disappearance of European languages and dialects in Western Europe and North America rather than the loss of traditional nonEuropean languages. Moreover, the approach in most studies is particularistic rather than ecological. The main thrust of this book is that an understanding of language death and ecological matters go hand in hand.