This book "asserts that the origin and spread of languages must be examined primarily through the time-tested techniques of linguistic analysis, rather than those of evolutionary biology" and "defends traditional practices in historical linguistics while remaining open to new techniques, including computational methods" and "will appeal to readers interested in world history and world geography."
Oneida is an endangered language of the Iroquoian family of northeastern North America. Among its more notable structural features are: its relatively small phonemic inventory lacking in labials; its use of whispered syllables; the complexity of the verbal morphology; the dominance of verbal structures over nominal ones; and the productive use of noun incorporation. The current work is based on two and a half decades of field work in the Wisconsin community of Oneidas where there are now fewer than a couple dozen native speakers remaining. Other communities exist in Ontario and New York state where the language is similarly endangered. Despite the endangered status there is an oral literature, primarily in the rich ceremonial tradition. The community actively invests in language revitalization efforts and there is limited literacy in an orthography not more than a few decades old.