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The central concern in this book is the relationship between language and group identity, a relationship that is thrown into greatest relief in 'minority' settings. Since much of the current interest in minority languages revolves around issues of identity politics, language rights and the plight of 'endangered' languages, one aim of the book is to summarize and analyze these and other pivotal themes. Furthermore, since the uniqueness of every language-contact situation does not rest upon unique elements or features - but, rather, upon the particular weightings and combinations of features that recur across settings - the second aim here is to provide a general descriptive framework within which a wide range of contact settings may be more easily understood. The book thus begins with a discussion of such matters as language decline, maintenance and revival, the dynamics of minority languages, and the ecology of language. It then offers a typological framework that draws and expands upon previous categorizing efforts. Finally, the book presents four case studies that are both intrinsically interesting and - more importantly - provide specific illustrations of the generalities discussed earlier.
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