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Issues in Language Endangerment in the Americas


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 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;

  • 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

  • time spent on attending lectures and seminars: 14 hours

  • time for studying the compulsory literature and preparing for class: 42 hours

  • time to prepare for the presentation, exam and/or write a paper (including reading/research) : 84 hours

Assessment Method

  • Active participation in class 20%

  • Presentation 30%

  • Paper (10-15 pages) 50%


This course is supported by Blackboard.

Reading list

  • Grenoble, Lenore A. and Lindsay J. Whaley (eds.) (1998). Endangered Languages: Language Loss and Community Response. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • A list of additional reading (articles, book chapters) will be made available through Blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.


Students should register through uSis. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte via:
Registration Contractonderwijs via:


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


Minimum 10 students.