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Research Guides

Selected eBooks

Language Endangerment and Language Revitalization: An Introduction
Language Death
Language endangerment
Africa's endangered languages : documentary and theoretical approaches
Defying Maliseet Language Death: Emergent Vitalities of Language, Culture, and Identity in Eastern Canada
Endangered languages of the Caucasus and beyond
Dying words : endangered languages and what they have to tell us
A grammar of (Western) Garrwa
We Are Our Language: An Ethnography of Language Revitalization in a Northern Athabaskan Community
Language Crisis in the Ryukyus
Cataloguing the world's endangered languages
The Vanishing Languages of the Pacific Rim
Keeping languages alive : documentation, pedagogy and revitalization
The indigenous languages of South America : a comprehensive guide
Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance
Language Diversity Endangered
Linguistic ideologies of Native American language revitalization : doing the lost language ghost dance
On the Death and Life of Languages
The languages and linguistics of the New Guinea area : a comprehensive guide
When languages die : the extinction of the world's languages and the erosion of human knowledge

Language Profiles

These sources provide brief descriptions of languages including region and number of speakers. Some include language recordings and bibliographies.

Language Archives


UNESCO Classification of Endangered Languages

UNESCO created a classification system for endangered languages, most of them indigenous, as part of their Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. The classification system ranks languages by degree of endangerment. See report, Language vitality and endangerment, for more information and "Endangered languages: the full list" (The Guardian, 2011).

Vulnerable - most children speak the language, but it may be restricted to certain domains (e.g., home)
Definitely endangered - children no longer learn the language as a 'mother tongue' in the home
Severely endangered - language is spoken by grandparents and older generations; while the parent generation may understand it, they do not speak it to children or among themselves
Critically endangered - the youngest speakers are grandparents and older, and they speak the language partially and infrequently
Extinct - there are no speakers left

Search Terminology for Books

Books on indigenous languages can be found in UW Libraries Search by using a variety of keywords and terms, however for a more comprehensive search you may want to also include designated Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) as search terms. Most U.S. libraries use this official terminology to describe the content of a book. You will usually need to use a variety of subject headings including broad terms such as endangered languages, as well as narrower terms such as the names of specific languages (e.g., Nhanda language) and peoples (e.g., Ainu). The term, "indigenous languages" is not an official subject heading though the phrase is used often in the titles of books and book chapters.

Examples of broader Library of Congress Subject Headings. These subject headings can be followed by specific places (e.g., australia, latin america, etc.) To find dictionaries, grammars and other language related books for a specific language, search for the name of the language (e.g., Maori language, Mayan languages) followed by terms such as:
  • Anthropological linguistics
  • Endangered languages
  • Language and culture
  • Language attrition
  • Language maintenance
  • Language obsolescence
  • Language revival
  • Linguistic minorities
  • Conversation and phrase books
  • Dictionaries
  • Grammar
  • History
  • Morphology
  • Phonology
  • Revival
  • Vocabulary