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  • Bibliography on language endangerment by Tasaku Tsunoda
  • Gary Holton
Bibliography on language endangerment. By Tasaku Tsunoda. (ICHEL linguistic studies 7.) Tokyo: Department of Asian and Pacific Linguistics, University of Tokyo, 2002. Pp. 77. ISBN 4990134419. Available online at

The difficulty in compiling a bibliography on language endangerment lies in limiting its scope. With so many of the world’s languages now endangered, much of our field arguably concerns language endangerment in one way or another. Tsunoda is thus to be commended for limiting this list to some 700 entries. In lieu of a definition of language endangerment, T lists sixteen topics that fall within the purview of the bibliography. The list includes surveys, documentation methods, language revitalization, ethics, and language policy—reflecting a broad view of the subject of language endangerment. Unfortunately, the bibliographic entries themselves are not annotated, so it is not always possible to determine which topic(s) is (are) addressed by a particular entry. The lack of annotations is especially problematic with respect to seemingly peripheral entries. For example, why does the list include dictionaries of some endangered languages (e.g. Jaru and Nunggubuyu) but not of others? And how is the 1975 unpublished manuscript ‘Kaufman’s basic concept list on historical principles’ relevant to endangerment?

Nevertheless, T has certainly uncovered some obscure references, such as an item appearing in the newsletter of a regional Australian aboriginal language center (complete with telephone and email contact information for the center). Indeed, this level of detail in a bibliography of such broad scope reveals a slight regional bias toward Australian languages. However, the standard references are not overlooked. Tincludes a complete listing of works appearing in the many recent volumes of collected papers and conference proceedings dedicated to the subject of language endangerment. Those unfamiliar with the many endangered languages volumes published in Japan over the past decade will find this especially useful. In fact, even those quite familiar with the endangered languages literature are likely to discover herein references of which they were previously unaware.

Both the compiler and the publisher are to be commended for making the bibliography available online. This effort will surely increase the usefulness of the bibliography, making it available to a wider audience and facilitating future updates. One can only hope that future editions may include refinements such as an author index, subject index, language index, and descriptive annotations. [End Page 546]

Gary Holton
University of Alaska Fairbanks


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