April 29, 2013
By Ofer Tirosh
A Language Dies Every Two Weeks
Did you know the world has over 7000 languages? According to linguists, roughly one spoken language dies out every couple weeks.
Two linguists, Gregory Anderson, PhD and David Harrison PhD, have traveled the world documenting languages before they become obsolete. A documentary was made based on some of their travels. The documentary touches on the men’s attempts to preserve disappearing languages of the Chulym, Sora and Kallawaya people.
“There’s a huge interest in endangered languages and people want to know not only how can we study these languages, but what can we do to support language revitalization,” Harrison said.
Linguists aren’t the only ones interested in preserving languages; students have also expressed concerns over diverse languages becoming extinct.
“It’s crucial when you think about literature and expanding literature to the idea of oral tradition and stories and culture and history, and every time a language dies that language’s method of describing the world and the environment goes with it and so I view that as sort of a death of part of the world in a sense,” said Boise State Linguistics Association President Kelsey Montzka.
The linguists work is not yet finished and they have acquired help from trained locals around the world in carrying on their documentation.
The full story on disappearing languages can be found online at http://arbiteronline.com/2013/02/19/every-two-weeks-a-language-dies/
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