In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

REVIEWS961 Language spread: Studies in diffusion and social change. Edited by Robert L. Cooper. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982. Pp. viii, 360. $17.50. Reviewed by Braj B. Kachru, University ofIllinois, Urbana This important volume of fifteen studies 'is the first collection of theoretical articles and case studies devoted to language spread' (vii). What is language spread? Several definitions are provided: Cooper first explains it as 'the phenomenon whereby the uses or the users of a language increase.' Later, he modifies this definition: 'languages do not acquire speakers. It is speakers (or readers or writers) who acquire and use languages. When we refer to language spread, then, we are referring to the spread of behaviors.' (6) But not all the contributors to the volume accept Cs characterization; thus Glyn Lewis argues that, 'while it is obvious that new speakers have to learn a language for it to spread, it is also true that what a language is perceived to be or to stand for, irrespective of objective considerations, is what attracts the increasing clientele. In that sense a language does "acquire speakers".' (217) Joshua Fishman looks at language spread in terms of extension of functions: for him, the spread of language 'does not always entail gaining new speakers or users—whether as a first or as a second language. Frequently it entails gaining new functions or uses, particularly "H" functions (i.e., literacy-related functions in education, religion, "high culture" in general, and, in modern times, in econo-technology and government, too) for a language that is already widely known and used in "L" functions (i.e., everyday family, neighborhood, and other informal/intimate, intragroup interaction).' (291) These three ways of looking at language spread—not necessarily mutually exclusive —give us some idea of the scope of the present volume. The papers were originally prepared for a conference on this topic held at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth (September 12-14, 1978). One thus detects in the volume the typical characteristics of a conference volume: lack ofcohesiveness and integration, and essentially no cross-references among the papers. However, the claim that this is the first collection of studies on this topic is justified: studies exist on the spread of specific languages (e.g. Fishman et al. 1977 for English), but no earlier volume cuts across languages and makes generalizations concerning the motivations and implications of language spread with abundant data from several languages. This goal is achieved by several very perceptive studies in Cs volume. A brief introduction by Bernard Barber (1-4) refers to the study of 'language spread' as a 'new subspeciality' under the area of sociolinguistics. He then briefly discusses sociolinguistics from the perspective of 'the sociology of science ' and that of 'systematic sociological analysis and research'. The first two papers, in a sense, set the scene for the individual case studies. Cooper's detailed paper, ? framework for the study of language spread' (536 ), and Stanley Lieberson, 'Forces affecting language spread' (37-62), present some basic propositions for the entire field. Another study concentrates on broad issues which relate a large group of languages: Charles Ferguson, 'Re- 962LANGUAGE, VOLUME 60, NUMBER 4 (1984) ligious factors in language spread' (95-106), focuses essentially on the writing systems, since 'the distribution of major types of writing systems in the world correlates more closely with the distribution of the world's major religions than with genetic or typological classifications of language' (95; e.g. the scripts of Hebrew with Judaism, Pali with Buddhism, Sanskrit with Hinduism, Arabic with Islam, and Latin with Western Christianity). He defines language spread more or less in Cs sense, 'as the increase over time in the number of users or the amount of use of a given language or language variety' (96). The religious factors are then seen in terms of 'language variation' (96-9) and 'language maintenance and shift' (99-105). The linguistic implications of religion may be 'multigraphism' (99)—and, attitudinally, various types of language identity and language loyalty. One sees evidence of such attitudinally determined responses in census data. One other paper of general interest is by Wolfgang Dressier, 'Acceleration, retardation, and reversal in language decay?' (321-36); however, it is...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 961-965
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.