Lost Language Day?

T.Matthew Ciolek tmciolek at coombs.anu.edu.au
Fri May 17 00:09:25 UTC 1996

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BOUNCE endangered-languages-l: Non-member submission from
[dcheezem at alaska.net (David Cheezem)]
From: dcheezem at alaska.net (David Cheezem)
Subject: Lost Language Day?

I am not a linguist.  I am a poet working toward his Masters in Fine Arts
in Creative Writing at the University of Alaska Anchorage.  But I've been
watching the endangered language listerve with interest and I wonder what
you think of this idea:

The annual AIDS awareness day called "A day without art" is very effective
and powerful because of its emphasis on what is being withheld from the
world when a human being is lost to the disease.  I think it would be just
as powerful to have an international day mourning the loss of languages and
cultures -- another kind of withholding.  You could have flyers appear in
many major cities with an untranslated bit of a lost language.

It could read something like this:

                      You will never read these words again

The following is a statement written in the __________ language. The last
known speaker of this langauge was ______________ who died in 19__.  We are
not translating this statement because in a small way, we want to emphasize
the loss of meaning and knowledge that ocurrs when a language dies.
Speaking the words will not bring back the fabric of life that accompanies
a living language, so we share them only in mourning.

<a short untranslated text, phonetically rendered.>

For more information about the effort to save endngered languages and
cultures, write ______.


Each flyer could have text from a different language.
Any thoughts?

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