A New Yorker Best Book of 2022
A Globe & Mail Book of the Year
"A stimulating work on the politics of language." LA Review of Books
As globalisation continues languages are disappearing faster than ever, leaving our planet's linguistic diversity leaping towards extinction. The science of how languages are acquired is becoming more advanced and the internet is bringing us new ways of teaching the next generation, however it is increasingly challenging for minority languages to survive in the face of a handful of hegemonic 'super-tongues'.
In Speak Not
, James Griffiths reports from the frontlines of the battle to preserve minority languages, from his native Wales, Hawaii and indigenous American nations, to southern China and Hong Kong. He explores the revival of the Welsh language as a blueprint for how to ensure new generations are not robbed of their linguistic heritage, outlines how loss of indigenous languages is the direct result of colonialism and globalisation and examines how technology is both hindering and aiding the fight to prevent linguistic extinction.
Introducing readers to compelling characters and examining how indigenous communities are fighting for their languages, Griffiths ultimately explores how languages hang on, what happens when they don't, and how indigenous tongues can be preserved and brought back from the brink.
James Griffiths is Asia Correspondent at the Globe and Mail, currently based in Hong Kong. He was previously a senior producer at CNN International, where he reported on the ground from Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. He is the author of The Great Firewall of China (Zed Books, 2021).