Piers Kelly, "The Last Language on Earth: Linguistic Utopianism in the Philippines" (Oxford UP, 2021)
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In the southern Philippines, the Bohol community speaks a language they say one man, Pinay, created long ago, leaving it for a modern Filipino named Mariano Datahan to rediscover and reenliven. The Last Language on Earth: Linguistic Utopianism in the Philippines (Oxford University Press, 2023) by Piers Kelly tells the story of the Eskayan language through linguistic, ethnographic, and historical analysis. Kelly investigates the origins of the Eskayan language as well as its role in political and conceptual controversies around language diversity and colonial contact. Carefully avoiding—and problematizing—dichotomies such as “real or fake,” “invented or natural,” the book explores not only the nature of Eskayan, its writing system, lexicon, and syntax, but also its relationship to other languages employed in the Philippines and to strategies of colonial resistance across Southeast Asia.
Malcolm Keating is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Yale-NUS College. His research focuses on Sanskrit works of philosophy in Indian traditions, in the areas of language and epistemology. He is the author of Language, Meaning, and Use in Indian Philosophy (Bloomsbury Press, 2019) and host of the podcast Sutras & Stuff.
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