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Issues in Language Endangerment and Documentation


Admission requirements

BA in Linguistics or other language and culture studies


Experts estimate that only 50% of the over 7000 languages that are spoken today will still be spoken by the end of the century. Nowadays the intellectual heritage of diverse languages is disappearing at a faster rate than ever before. In this course we will explore the phenomenon of language endangerment and language loss alongside issues of language maintenance in different regions of the world. We will discuss the implications for societies and for the world’s knowledge systems when the vitality of languages is threatened. We will discuss the responses of various stakeholders: the language users, the communities, linguists, policy makers, governments and non-governmental organisations. We will consider some of the activities associated with the International Decade for Indegenous Languages as well as the role of digital technologies in stemming the tide of endangerment. 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 situation of ethnolinguistic diversity in different regions of the world

  • distinguish between the different processes of language loss, and shift

  • identify the consequences for a community of language users to lose its language and culture

  • define and critique measures and policies aimed at reversing language loss


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method


  • active participation in class and engagement with the literature through peer discussion on Discussion Board: 20%

  • one oral presentation: 20%

  • term paper: 60%


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average of the above


Resit: students who fail the course may resit the final term paper.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

•Evans, Nicholas (2022). Words of Wonder. Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us. Malden (MA): Riley-Blackwell. (second edition)

  • A list of additional readings (articles, book chapters) will be made available through Brightspace


Enrolment through My Studymap is mandatory


For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar

For questions related to the content of the course, please contact the lecturer, you can find their contact information by clicking on their name in the sidebar.

For questions regarding enrollment please contact the Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats E-mail address Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats:

For questions regarding your studyprogress contact the Coordinator of Studies