Detailed table of contents

Book of Knowledge

Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

List of all languages referred to in the Book of Knowledge and other sections of the website.


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Let’s Revise!

Go to the Let’s Revise section to see what you can learn from the Book of Knowledge or to test how much you have already learnt!

Phonetic exercises

Do you wish for some phonetic practice? Take a look at the exercises in the Phonetic Exercises section.

1. Languages of the World

  • How many languages?
  • Where is the greatest number of languages found?
  • What is language?
  • Is human language different from animal communication?
  • Where does language come from?
  • How are languages classified?
  • Is it good to have so many languages?

2. Exploring Linguistic Diversity

  • How different are the languages of the world?
  • Languages and LANGUAGE
  • The quest for universals
  • How can different languages be described and compared?
  • Words and their meaning
  • Basic vocabulary
  • Word meaning and categorization
  • Words for the world we live in

3. Language structures

  • Words in texts
  • Words in spoken language
  • The inner structure of words
  • Word-formation
  • Techniques for building words and word-forms
  • Grammatical categories
  • Person
  • Gender
  • Classifiers
  • Word order
  • Polar questions
  • How to express possession
  • How to show the structure of words and clauses

4. The sounds of language

5. Writing

6. Language and culture

7. Multilingualism and language contact

  • Everyone has the potential for multilingualism
  • How does multilingualism function? Refining the term ‘multilingualism’
  • Prestige: Official multilingualism
  • Lack of prestige: Situations of unbalanced multilingualism
  • Benefits of plurilingualism
  • Language contact
  • Results of language contact
  • Pidgins
  • Creoles
  • Code switching and loan words
  • Translanguaging

8. Language endangerment

  • Typology of language endangerment
  • Which languages are endangered?
  • How do languages become endangered?
  • Factors
  • Attitudes
  • Crowding out
  • Language endangerment and death are not uniform
  • How do speakers of endangered languages feel about it?
  • Why does it matter? How do majority language speakers feel about language endangerment?

9. Endangered Languages, Ethnicity, Identity and Politics

10. Language documentation

  • More than just words and sentences
  • Data and metadata

Some methods of language documentation

  • Documenting communicative behaviour and language in use
  • Documenting what speakers know

Elements of documentary practice

  • Preparatory steps
  • Recording equipment and session set-up
  • Processing and analysing data
  • Example on-line archives for endangered languages
  • Legal and ethical problems

Glossary, subject index

List of languages

Let’s Revise! – Interactive Revision Exercises

Phonetic exercises

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