Lost Language Day

Nicholas Ostler nostler at chibcha.demon.co.uk
Mon May 20 07:14:55 UTC 1996

At 10:09 am 17/5/96 +1000, T.Matthew Ciolek wrote:
>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.
>Each flyer could have text from a different language.
>Any thoughts?

I agree that this is an excellent idea.  Loss, sadness, mourning must be
there, as a background to determination to act compassionately. 

It would naturally be part of a much bigger effort (concentrated on  such a
day each year) with people available to appear on the media, briefing
packs, press releases etc.  It could also be a good focus for collaboration
between groups of Endangered Language support organizations world wide.

The main questions that arise, from my present standpoint, is: 
Who would take responsibility for making it happen (printing and
distribution etc.) - especially if it is organized (as it should be) as a
global phenomenon?
What would be a good day to choose? - "a good day to die", indeed! 

It is certainly an idea that we shall keep in mind at our Foundation for
Endangered Languages, and adopt as and when we have the opportunity.

Nicholas Ostler
Foundation for Endangered Languages

                Batheaston Villa, 172 Bailbrook Lane
                Bath       BA1 7AA       England
                +44-1225-85-2865 fax +44-1225-85-9258
                nostler at chibcha.demon.co.uk

Nicholas Ostler                                 
                Linguacubun Ltd
                Batheaston Villa, 172 Bailbrook Lane
                Bath       BA1 7AA       England
                +44-1225-85-2865 fax +44-1225-85-9258
                nostler at chibcha.demon.co.uk

More information about the Endangered-languages-l mailing list