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Spoken Here by Mark Abley

Spoken Here

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Journalist’s quirky story about his travels to visit the world’s dying and threatened languages and the people who speak them – but for how long?


Spoken Here by Mark Abley

Half the world's languages are threatened with extinction over the next century, as English and the rest of the world's top twenty languages dirve all before them. What ways of looking at the world will die along with them, what cultural riches, what experiences, histories and memories? And how does it feel to be one of the last remaining speakers of a languages that is on its way to extinction? What chance is there of saving any of these languages? And is it feasible in the long term or even worthwhile?

Mark Abley's journeys among the speakers of languages at the brink takes him to aboriginal Australia (where he meets the last surviving fluent male speaker of Mati Ke, who cannot speak to the only other fluent speaker, as she is his sister and in their culture it is forbidden to speak to siblings once one has reached puberty), and to American Indian reservations, as well as to places where the languages are fighting back - Wales, the Faeroe islands, the Isle of Man - as well as charting the triumphant return of Hebrew.


'any book which awakens our indifference is to be welcomed, particularly one so well-written and lively' New Statesman

'A fascinating and at times moving account of how languages die Illuminating and unique' The Observer

'A powerful and important book... His celebration of linguistic diversity is compelling, his diagnosis of its demise devastating.' Sunday Times

'If you instinctively inveigh against blandness and uniformity, this is an essential read.' Guardian

About the Author

Mark Abley
Mark Abley, a winner of Canada's National Newspaper Award, has written for the TLS, the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Montreal Gazette, and other publications. He speaks English, French, and a little Welsh.

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Book Info

Publication date

6th January 2005


Mark Abley

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336 pages


eBook Favourites

Places & peoples: general & pictorial works
Historical & comparative linguistics
Travel writing



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