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Why do languages die? Approaching taxonomies, (re-)ordering causes

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Dirksmeyer, T. (2005). Why do languages die? Approaching taxonomies, (re-)ordering causes. In J. Wohlgemuth, & T. Dirksmeyer (Eds.), Bedrohte Vielfalt. Aspekte des Sprach(en)tods – Aspects of language death (pp. 53-68). Berlin: Weißensee.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0011-BDC1-3
Under what circumstances do languages die? Why has their “mortality rate” increased dramatically in the recent past? What “causes of death” can be identified for historical cases, to what extent are these generalizable, and how can they be captured in an explanatory theory? In pursuing these questions, it becomes apparent that in typical cases of language death various causes tend to interact in multiple ways. Speakers’ attitudes towards their language play a critical role in all of this. Existing categorial taxonomies do not succeed in modeling the complex relationships between these factors. Therefore, an alternative, dimensional approach is called for to more adequately address (and counter) the causes of language death in a given scenario.