The Last Speakers

The Last Speakers

The Quest to Save the World's Most Endangered Languages

Book - 2010
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Part travelogue and part scientist's notebook, The Last Speakers is the poignant chronicle of author K. David Harrison's expeditions around the world to meet with last speakers of vanishing languages. The speakers' eloquent reflections and candid photographs reveal little-known lifeways as well as revitalization efforts to teach disappearing languages to younger generations. Thought-provoking and engaging, this unique book illuminates the global language-extinction crisis through photos, graphics, interviews, traditional wisdom never before translated into English, and first-person essays that thrillingly convey the adventure of science and exploration.
Publisher: Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, c2010
ISBN: 9781426204616
1426204612
Characteristics: 302 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), col. map ; 24 cm

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sarahcharlotte999
Jan 12, 2018

The preachy, vague writing in the first section annoyed me... until the author admitted he's just trying to write an extended op-ed piece on why we should save languages. That explains it.

After the author set forth his purpose, I enjoyed the book much more. Especially when he started talking about Siberian folk-tales and vowel harmony. I wanted to read more about the Tuvan heroine Bora, who doesn't have strength or a sense of direction at first, but ends up whooping the butts of tons of warriors to save her brother.

So, instead of jumping from country to country so fast it makes me dizzy, the author should have focused more closely on the awesome languages of Siberia. (Oh, ok, I suppose the author could have devoted one extra chapter to Luiz, the dreamy singer-songwriter from Papua New Guinea).

 

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zal
May 19, 2011

Part travelogue, this crusader has travelled in the remotest areas of the world to record languages on the brink of extinction. Whether in the freezing cold fronts of Siberia, the barren desert of Mongolia, in the dry Chaco region of Paraguay, the author most probably is on a quixotic quest for their survival. Admire his tenacity and his determination!

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