From: Kenneth Whistler (email@example.com)
Date: Tue May 29 2007 - 17:15:28 CDT
Martin Heijdra noted:
> Atlas of the World's Languages
> Editor(s) - R.E. Asher, Christopher Moseley
> List Price: $570.00
> ISBN: 9780415310741
> ISBN-10: 0415310741
> Publisher: Routledge
> Publication Date: 21/05/2007
Great reference, and I'm looking forward to seeing the new edition.
> Personally, while this atlas is compiled by major scholars in the
> field, I thought the decision (in 1993 at least) to have current
> maps for most continent, but reconstructed ca. 1500 maps for the
> Americas was weird and hardly defensible.
I think it is not weird at all and is perfectly defensible.
To do otherwise would be to completely lose the majority of
useful information about geographical distribution of aboriginal
languages of the Americas.
Just one example with which I am familiar: the geographical
area now covered by the state of California had, in pre-Columbian
times, at least 100 distinct languages in 20 or so language
families. Almost all of those languages went extinct in the
course of the 20th century. There are now probably many more
Mayan language speakers in Los Angeles (immigrants from
Mesoamerica) than of *all* the aboriginal languages of
California put together.
If you put together a map of era-2000 languages in California,
the actual aboriginal languages of California would be completely
missing from the map, unless you extended it down to the level
of dots for the houses of individual elders or coloring in the
few-acre settlements in some isolated rancherias and reservations around
the state. They are completely swamped by the dominant
cultures' use of English and Spanish, and even swamped by the
current language use of other immigrant communities. There
are significant, currently viable language communities of
Hmong speakers in Fresno, Pashto speakers in Fremont, Vietnamese
speakers in Anaheim, Korean speakers in Los Angeles, and so
on and on, in addition to the actual migrants of speakers
of other Native American languages from the much larger
language communities of Mesoamerica.
Also, it is particularly difficult to do language mapping for
immigrant Native American communities, because it is so enmeshed
with the volatile politics of Hispanic immigration in the U.S.
I'm hoping that the revised Atlas took a stab at that problem,
but I don't think it at all detracts from the need to have
as valid a representation as possible for the pre-Columbian
distribution of the languages of the Americas.
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