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[From Peter K. Austin, Endangered Languages Academic Programme, SOAS]

Oxford University Press has just published The Vanishing Languages of the Pacific Rim edited by Osahito Miyaoka, Osamu Sakiyama and Michael Krauss. At 530 pages and weighing 1.2 kilos (according to my kitchen scales) it is a massive collection of material that will be of interest to readers of this blog. It consists of two thematic parts:

Diversity, Endangerment, and Documentation - comprising eight general papers on endangered languages and language documentation
Areal Surveys - regionally-based surveys of the South Pacific Rim, South-east Asia, and the North Pacific Rim, making up the bulk of the volume

Earlier versions of many of the papers in the general section appeared previously in publications from the Endangered Languages of the Pacific Rim project (ELPR) which was supported by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for four years from 1999 to 2003. Miyaoka-sensei who led that project retired this month from Osaka Gakuin University and discussions are currently underway to transfer the materials from the project to Tokyo University of Foreign Studies Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (known colloquially as ‘AA-ken’ from its Japanese name Ajia Afurika kenkyuujo). This includes books and CD-ROMs with lots of original documentary materials on languages of the region that were available free of charge from ELPR.

It is great to see this major new publication arising from the ELPR project, though at 65 pounds (US$ 130 and ca A$155) it is likely to be out of the reach of most students (not to mention speakers of endangered Pacific Rim languages). Fortunately, some papers are available as downloads on author’s home pages, such as: Alexandra Aikhenvald and Tonya Stebbins ‘Languages of Papua New Guinea’ and Alexandra Aikhenvald ‘Languages of the Pacific Coast of South America’.

Endangered (Pacific Rim) Austronesian languages will be the topic of a conference in Taiwan in June organised by Victoria Rau and colleagues at Providence University. Unesco Japan is also running some endangered languages events in Tokyo and Nagano just after the Taiwan conference. And not to forget the East Nusantara Conference in August.

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The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.

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