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The next century will see more than half of the world’s 6,000 languages become extinct. Most of these will disappear without being adequately recorded. Yet each distills the philosophy, knowledge, and cultural fabric of a different people. This compelling book asks what loss to our collective intellectual heritage will be inflicted by the death of these languages. It brings the conceptual issues vividly to life by weaving in portraits of individual “last speakers” and stories about linguists and their discoveries.