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REVIEWS167 Rickford, John. 1987. The haves and have nots: Sociolinguistic surveys and the assessment of speaker competence. Language in Society 16.149-78. Sankoff, David, and William Labov. 1979. On the use of variable rules. Language in Society 8.189-222. Schumann, John. 1978. The pidginization process. Rowley, MA: Newbury House. White, Lydia. 1982. Grammatical theory and language acquisition. Dordrecht: Foris. Dept. of Modern Languages and Literature[Received 14 February 1989; Pomona Collegerevision received 7 July 1989.] Claremont, CA 91711 Languages in competition: Dominance, diversity, and decline. By Ronald Wardhaugh . Oxford: Basil BlackweU, 1987. Pp. viii, 280. Cloth $45.00, paper $16.95. Reviewed by Becky Brown, Purdue University Wardhaugh's latest work, like its recent predecessors (Wardhaugh 1983, 1985, 1986), is characterized by informativeness, clarity, and succinctness. Its accessible textbook style makes it appropriate to many levels of students, and, because of its broad nature, it would be good supplementary reading for introductory sociolinguistics and dialectology courses. W's purpose in writing the book, however, was to broaden the horizons of narrowly-focused linguists. As he writes in the preface, 'linguists must be more prepared than they have been to treat "real-life" language issues ...' (viii). W 'concentrates on the spread of English and French, on competition between them, and on the way in which each has been imposed on speakers of other languages, both within the British Isles and France and outside [their respective countries]' (vii). Essentially, the book is a comprehensive discussion of language spread and related topics as seen from the historical perspective of these two main examples, a limitation of scope that was imposed to keep the topic more manageable. The result is far from a narrow treatment of the subject, thanks to the historical prominence of England and France in European political diplomacy and to the competition between their languages, which W traces in the rise and fall of French as the language of international diplomacy and its replacement by English. W draws his information on these topics from historians, political scientists, sociologists, and educators, rather than from linguists. This may explain why some well-known experts on language shift and death are missing from his bibliography (e.g. Gal 1985 and Dressier 1988). The idea that linguists can benefit from the expertise of other fields is of course not a novel suggestion; in previous works, e.g. Sankoff & Sankoff 1973 and Rickford 1986, sociolinguists in particular have been advised to use sociological models to underpin linguistic ones. The first three chapters discuss general notions concerning multilingual environments . These include, among many other topics, language spread and decline, minority languages, pluralism, nationalism, and ethnic groups. Ch. 1 deals with tension, competition, and accommodation among the world's languages . Of an estimated 5,000 languages spoken today, only a handful are 168LANGUAGE, VOLUME 66, NUMBER 1 (1990) dominant: just five languages (Chinese, English, Spanish, Russian, and Hindi) account for 45% of the world's population. Referring to several case studies, W discusses the necessary prerequisites for language dominance, examining various factors that affect the expansion and contraction of languages. Among the usual conditions of religious and economic factors, historical and cultural prestige, geographical opportunity, and military conquest, W includes a brief discussion on a traditionally held but outmoded notion—the inherent viability of a language. Although linguists are in agreement on this point, W contends that general texts on language spread frequently fail to address the notion that no one particular language is 'superior' to another. Rather, it is extralinguistic factors that determine the ultimate destiny of a language. Ch. 2 is a discussion of the linguistic composition of many nations and of the problems that linguistic diversity poses for internal harmony. To show how countries achieve stability, W describes the balance of assimilation and pluralism in various nations. In Ch. 3 W considers the relationship between ethnic groups and political entities such as nation, state, nation-state, and state-nation, focusing on the power of language and the special relationship between language and nation: 'Language is one of the cornerstones of national identity, because language is one ofthe clearest indicators ofethnic difference. Language could be used to make claims of others and to lay...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 167-170
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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