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128LANGUAGE, VOLUME 75, NUMBER 1 (1999) low- to high-information societies carries a price. Along with more overtly disruptive forces, it has helped undermine the support system that has sustained the Pacific linguistic ecology. When traditional languages and forms of communication no longer satisfy everyday needs, they become less relevant to subsequent generations. Ch. 10, 'The sociolinguistics of language shift, decay and death', asserts that our discipline has not properly diagnosed what the problem might be. It is entirely appropriate to demand that language attrition and the social functions of diversity be more adequately theorized. Much of the existing scholarship has been particularistic and preoccupied with symptoms rather than root causes. It is also appropriate to call upon linguists to abandon the idea that they are neutral observers of natural processes at work, although I am not sanguine about our ability to achieve consensus on principled distinctions between 'normal' and 'pathological' language development. Ch. 11, 'Assessing the damage: Structural and lexical effects', is an empirical demonstration of how ecological shifts in the Pacific have brought about reductions in morphological complexity, structural convergence in the direction of Standard Average European languages, and lexicosemantic reconfiguration. If one concedes M's rejection of the principle of effability (that all languages are intertranslatable), then such loss of human knowledge is grave indeed. Ch. 12, 'Preserving linguistic diversity: Outlook and prospects', surveys various models of language planning, from 'classical' theory (based on the assumption that language loss and maintenance reflect free and rational choices by speakers) to M's own ecological theory, which seeks to enable the survival of structured diversity rather than individual languages and regards functional links between languages as central. In an appendix, 'Linguistics in the Pacific', M confronts what he calls the 'imperialism of linguistics'. The lenses through which our discipline views its object of study—notably the reification of language, the family tree model, the competence/performance dichotomy, universal grammar, computational metaphors, and the dogma of effability—tend to distort our conception of the Pacific region. It is surely not too much to ask that linguists 'speak up for the preservation of linguistic and conceptual diversity' and acknowledge their responsibility to help 'maintain and rescue' fragile linguistic ecologies (338). This is a work of prodigious scholarship. M brings a deep first-hand knowledge of the Pacific as a linguistic area and formidable breadth of reading to his project. Although the book might seem at first glance to be directed toward areal specialists, the nonspecialist reader will certainly come away with a clear sense of what is at stake. The Pacific will always maintain a multiplicity of cultures and languages. The important question is how diverse and how strong they will be in the future. REFERENCES Dixon, R. M. W. 1991. The endangered languages of Australia, Indonesia, and Oceania. Endangered languages , ed. by R. H. Robins and E. M. Uhlenbeck, 229-55. Oxford and New York: Berg. Haugen, Einar. 1972. The ecology of language. Stanford: Stanford University Press. University of North Carolina Department of Germanic Languages CB# 3160 438 Dey Hall Chapel HiU, NC 27599-3160 [] Handbook of second language acquisition. Ed. by William C. Ritchie and Tej K. Bhatia. San Diego: Academic Press, 1996. Pp. xxv, 758. $69.95. Reviewed by Margaret Thomas, Boston College This volume offers a rewarding showcase of research on second language (L2) acquisition. It is comprised of nineteen essays by widely-known writers in the field, whose distinctive voices, REVIEWS129 preoccupations, and rhetorical styles the editors have not sought to homogenize. This results in a volume in which the contributors sound very much like themselves, bringing forth all their favorite data sets and shaping arguments around those data in recognizably characteristic ways. What the individual articles share is that, for the most part, they represent their various views of the field in clear, accessible, and authoritative manners. The volume comprises an introduction and seven major sections. Composing an introduction to a text like this is a steep assignment, and the editors' overview (1-46) leaves something to be desired. Granted the book's heterogeneity and complexity, this chapter should ideally display for readers outside the discipline a maximally simple and...


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