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Issues in Language Endangerment


Admission requirements

BA in Linguistics, Latin American Studies or other relevant disciplines.


Experts estimate that only 50% of the 6,000-7,000 languages that are spoken today will still be spoken by the end of the century. Nowadays languages and the valuable scientific and cultural knowledge they hold are disappearing at a faster rate than ever before. In this course we will explore the phenomenon of language endangerment and language loss in the Americas and other regions of the world, and what is exactly at stake when a language becomes extinct. We will discuss the implications for societies and for scientific knowledge and actions undertaken by linguists, communities, and governments in response to the pending loss of so many languages. Reading material for this course consists of a set book and additional articles relevant to specific topics.

Course objectives

At the conclusion of the course the participants should be able to:

  • Describe the highly endangered situation of the native languages of the Americas and other regions of the world;

  • Distinguish between the different processes of language loss;

  • Identify the consequences for a community to lose its language and culture;

  • Define measures taken to reverse language loss.


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Attending seminars: 28 hours
Studying the compulsory literature: 84 hours
Preparing for the two presentations: 40 hours
Writing the paper: 128 hours

Assessment Method

Presentations of two research topics: 50% (25% each)
Paper/research proposal (10-15 pages) based on one of the presentations: 50%


Blackboard will be used to provide students with an overview of current affairs, as well as specific information about (components of) the course.

Reading list

Evans, Nicholas (2010). Dying Words. Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us. Malden, MA: Riley-Blackwell.
A list of additional readings (articles, book chapters) will be made available through Blackboard.


Enrolment in uSis is obligatory. If you have any questions, please contact the student administration, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:

When registering, students that are registered for the specialisation that this course belongs to, or the Research Master, take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the coordinator of studies

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


MA Linguistics departmental office, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144;
or mail: