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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 is available on the “MA Linguistics website”:

Mode of instruction

2-hour weekly seminar

Course Load

  • attending seminars: 14 hours

  • studying the compulsory literature: 42 hours

  • preparing the presentation: 20 hours

  • writing the term paper: 64 hours

Assessment Method

  • active participation in class: 20%

  • oral presentation: 30%

  • term paper: 50%

  • resit: students who fail the course may resit the term paper


Blackboard will be used for:

  • announcements

  • access to course materials (syllabus, lectures, links, PowerPoint presentations, etc.)

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 through uSis is mandatory.

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”:

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Student administration Van Eyckhof


Credits for this course are 5 EC, but students that are interested can do a tutorial on grant writing for an additional 5 EC, resulting in a formal grant application (10 EC total).