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worker may not be able to obtain help from even a

partially bilingual consultant) and (2) learning a field
language for which textbooks and dictionaries are
For a fieldworker who is not linguistically sophisticated and has not had previous experience in a foreign society, Bs suggestions should prove valuable.
[ZDENEK SALZMANN, Northern Arizona University.]

Evidence for linguistic relativity. Ed. by

(Amsterdam studies in the theory and
history of linguistic science. Series IV,
Current issues in linguistic theory 198.)
Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2000. Pp.
xxi, 240.
Most of the ten contributions to this volume were
originally presented at the 26th International LAUD
Symposium entitled Humboldt and Whorf revisited
(15 April, 1998, Gerhard Mercator University,
Duisburg, Germany). Proceedings of the meeting
have appeared in two volumes; the fifteen contributors to this volume (including the two editors) come
from ten countries on four continents.
The volume is divided into two parts: Part 1 contains papers dealing with evidence from language
structure; Part 2 has papers that draw on data from
cognition, discourse, and culture. In his introduction
(ixxxi), JOHN A. LUCY characterizes linguistic relativity and discusses its empirical evaluations. Before
commenting on the papers of the volume, he mentions three types of empirical studies of linguistic
relativityapproaches that are structure-oriented,
domain-oriented, and behavior-oriented.
To sample the contents of Part 1: In one of the
papers JAN SCHROTEN studies semantic structure and
its relation to the conceptual structure of body-part
nouns in English, Spanish, and Dutch. According to
him, it is necessary to understand how the semantic
structure is organized before one attempts to study
the relationship between language and thought.
GA BOR GYO RI views the cognitive function of language as also serving to provide the speakers with
relatively stable, ready-made categories that reflect
the environment the language users live in (76).
Then by studying semantic change, we learn not only
how cognition influences what categories will be
created in language, . . . [but also] how the linguistically established categories influence our view of the
world (77).
In Part 2, DAN I. SLOBIN in Verbalized events: A
dynamic approach to linguistic relativity and determinism (10738) gives an example of how languages shape their speakers way of thinking. He
examines the event of human motion and explores


differences in thinking for speaking between verbframed languages like French and satellite-framed
languages like English (this typology originated with
Leonard Talmy in 1985). BALTHASAR BICKEL offers
evidence from his fieldwork among a Tibeto-Burman
people, the Belhare, that cultural forms of social
practices (e.g. locating things or persons) show affinity to linguistic patterns. And in Sengager vs.
to show restraint: Linguistic and cultural relativity
in discourse management (193222), BERT PEETERS
contrasts communicative norms of French and English speakers. The French ideal is one of engagement in order to defend individual expression; the
Anglo-Saxon ideal is to avoid the risk of venturing
an erroneous opinion and getting drawn into other
peoples business. Ultimately, Peeterss thesis is that
selected aspects of language . . . because of linguistic relativity, generate cultural relativity, which itself
generates linguistic diversity (217).
Papers in this volume will prove to be of interest
because they suggest new ways of approaching the
issue of linguistic relativity. [ZDENEK SALZMANN,
Northern Arizona University.]

Explorations in linguistic relativity. Ed.

VERSPOOR. (Amsterdam studies in the
theory and history of linguistic science.
Series IV, Current issues in linguistic
theory 199.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2000. Pp. xvi, 369.
This is a companion volume to Evidence for linguistic relativity (ed. by Susanne Niemeier and Rene
Dirven. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2000). The
nineteen contributors of the fifteen papers of this volume come from three continents.
The first five papers take a historical view of linguistic relativity. In Towards a full pedigree of
the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: From Locke to
Lucy (123), E. F. K. KOERNER discusses the Humboldtian tradition of linguistic worldview but also
mentions some of the earlier thinkers who contributed essential elements to what later came to be referred to as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. (Locke
figures in the title but is not mentioned in the text.)
The following paper (2544) by JU RGEN TRABANT
examines Humboldts views in the context of his
time and points out some of the similarities and differences between Humboldts thinking and the approaches of those who explored more recently the
issue of the relationship between particular languages
and thinking. Moving forward in time, PENNY LEE
reviews Whorfs formulation of the linguistic relativity principle in order to clarify to what extent this
principle corresponds in particular studies to what



Whorf himself meant by it (4568). In Linguistic

relativity and translation (6988), JULIANE HOUSE
first gives a brief overview of Humboldtian, neoHumboldtian, and Whorfian views, which cast serious doubt on translatability, and then proposes that
the process of translating become a process of cultural recontextualization. The last of this set of papers
is PETER MU HLHA USLERs Humboldt, Whorf and the
roots of ecolinguistics (8999). According to M,
ecolinguistics is probably best defined by its refusal
to privilege a single perspective . . . on language and
communication (89). Muhlhauser supports Penny
Lees argument and concludes that while Whorf did
refer to the intrinsic value of cultural diversity, nowhere did he mention any connection between diverse conceptual systems and the diversity of natural
The other ten papers deal with particular theoretical and methodological issues. Two of them investigate in some detail specific Whorfian constructs:
LINDA L. THORNBURG and KLAUS-UWE PANTHER conclude that claims about how language shapes
thought should not be based solely on superficial
structural differences among languages . . . but on
in-depth analyses of linguistic systems (339);
MINGLANG ZHOU, drawing on data from China, challenges both Whorfs hierarchy of susceptibility of
linguistic categories to awareness and Michael Silversteins hypothesized universal constraining factors regarding the role of metalinguistic awareness
in linguistic relativity.
A few brief comments about some of the remaining papers: BRUCE W. HAWKINS concludes that
meanings are not immutable structure . . . [and] can
change significantly when there is a change in the
experiential base and . . . in the grounding context
(316). WALLACE CHAFE contributes a well-thoughtout article with supporting data as widely divergent
as Tlingit and Mohawk consonants, Seneca syntax,
and an English translation of a paragraph from Franz
Kafkas novel Amerika. Finally, NICK J. ENFIELD addresses some methodological and theoretical issues
that have emerged from two current conflicting positions on linguistic relativity. [ZDENEK SALZMANN,
Northern Arizona University].

Language death. By DAVID CRYSTAL.

Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University
Press, 2000. Pp. x, 198.
At present, well over 1,500 species of animals and
plants are threatened or endangered, and more than
700 recovery plans to prevent or at least reduce the
rate of extinction have been approved and are being
implemented. This book is concerned with the threat
of extinction faced by many members of the human
language species: It is estimated that over the next

century (between 2001 and 2100), two languages are

likely to die each month, with only about 600 of the
6,000 to 7,000 languages of the world safe from
the threat of extinction.
David Crystal is a well-known authority on language, and the rapid endangerment or death of many
minority languages he discusses is alarming. The
book is divided into five chapters. In Ch. 1, What
is language death? (126), C explains why it is difficult to arrive at a fairly accurate number of languages
still spoken and provides the reader with some interesting statisticse.g. 96% of the worlds languages
are spoken by only 4% of the worlds population.
To put it another way, approximately 1,500 languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers. But the danger of extinction is due not only to low numbers of
speakers. Just as important is the overall context in
which the speakers of a language find themselves.
Accordingly, a classification of languages as to their
endangerment has a number of degrees (the following is a composite of three classifications): safe, viable, viable but small, potentially endangered,
endangered, seriously endangered, moribund, and
Why should we care? is the title of Ch. 2
(2767). In it C first refutes those who hold that a
reduction in the number of languages would benefit
humankind. Then he answers the question in the
chapter title: because languages (1) express ethnic
identity, (2) are repositories of history, (3) contribute
to the sum of human knowledge, (4) are interesting
in themselves, and (5) contribute to diversity. Cs
points are supported by convincing examples.
Before something can be done to help languages
survive, we must understand the reasons for their
ever-increasing endangerment, and these reasons are
discussed in Ch. 3, Why do languages die? (6890).
It is to Cs credit that he not only sounds the alarm
but also offers practical advice on how to slow the
rapid demise of many languages. His advice is the
subject of Chs. 4 and 5, Where do we begin?
(91126) and What can be done? (12766). Where
does one begin? Of top priority is information gatheringthe number of speakers of a given language,
the political and cultural context in which they live,
their attitudes toward the viability of their language,
the attitudes of the members of the larger society
which surrounds them, the degree of speaker fluency,
and others. But in addition to the need for gathering
such data, there are other desiderata: fostering positive community attitudes, promoting the authenticity
of the whole community, and acknowledging language as an important part of culture.
And what can be done? Here, C attaches special
significance to six factors that usually figure in language revitalization. An endangered language will
progress if its speakers (1) increase their prestige
within the dominant community, (2) increase their