No subject

Diego Quesada dquesada at
Mon Sep 20 01:25:37 UTC 1999

<endangered-languages-l at>
cc: ling-amerindia at
Subject: ELL: New SIL Alias
In-Reply-To: <37E48314.7300871E at>
Message-ID: <Pine.SGI.3.95.990919204929.7649B-100000 at>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII
To: owner-endangered-languages-l at
Precedence: bulk
Reply-To: endangered-languages-l at

*** EOOH ***
Return-Path: <owner-endangered-languages-l at>
X-Authentication-Warning: majodomo set sender to
owner-endangered-languages-l at using -f
Date: Sun, 19 Sep 1999 21:25:37 -0400 (EDT)
From: Diego Quesada <dquesada at>
To: Endangered Languages Linguist list
<endangered-languages-l at>
cc: ling-amerindia at
Subject: ELL: New SIL Alias
In-Reply-To: <37E48314.7300871E at>
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII
Sender: owner-endangered-languages-l at
Precedence: bulk
Reply-To: endangered-languages-l at

Dear collegues genuinely concerned with language endangerment:

I was surprised to find out that in Panama (a country where SIL has a
murky past), as well as in other countries in Latin America, e.g. Brazil,
SIL has initiated a new wave of incursions under a new disguise, namely
the name NUEVAS TRIBUS (Eng. 'New Tribes'). In the community where I do
fieldwork, in Panama, this new situation has given rise to a split (with
people in favor, and others against their being there); even the recent
unexpected, and some time ago undreamed of, change in local authority (a
deposed King and a newly elected one under very unsual circumstances) has
been linked to SIL's renewed intent of establishing an ongoing presence
there. Ever since this interest was made explicit and the deposed King
expressed his skepticism the community has become increasingly polarized.
At present, I do not (nor do I need to) go into details about the
reverberations of this situation in this specific case. But I wonder:
	       a. if other "secular" linguists working in Latin America have
	       	  experienced similar situations in the communities where they
			after this change of name

			      b. if they have any idea (ideas, speculations,
			      rumors, etc.) of
			      	      what there is behind this new

				c. if there are potential dangers involved in
				the fact that a well
				    known organization suddenly decides to
				remask itself (imagine the CIA
				       changing its name to something like
				"New Subverters" or something like
				     that). Simply WHY?

				     Of course, I could easily ask one of the
				     many SIL colleagues I know and
				     with whom I have good professional
				     relations, but that would be like
				     asking the thief whether he stole the
				     jewel. I hope to hear from non-SIL
				     linguists, at least for now.

				     I want to make clear that this posting
				     (and the discussion that it may
				     ignite) is not intended to create
				     SIL-phobia or something of that sort; I
				     simply want to bring to stage a
				     potential, hitherto unnoticed, factor in
				     language endangerment: fooling the
				     community. After all, peoples whose
				     languages are dissected of their truly
				     cultural wealth to be downgraded to
				     the role of mere artifacts of
				     transculturization, that is mere vehicles
				     injection of alien values, are endangered
				     when that injection is given a
				     catchy name.

				     J. Diego Quesada
				     University of Toronto

				     Endangered-Languages-L Forum:
				     endangered-languages-l at
				     Web pages
				     Subscribe/unsubscribe and other commands:
				     majordomo at

More information about the Endangered-languages-l mailing list