ELL: Wall Street Journal editorial

Luisa Maffi maffi at TERRALINGUA.ORG
Sat Mar 30 15:13:57 UTC 2002

Thanks, Akira, for mentioning Terralingua. I'd only like to make
people on this list aware that the information should be updated as

TERRALINGUA. [Contact: Dr. Luisa Maffi, President, Terralingua. 1766
Lanier Place NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA, <maffi at terralingua.org>;
Mr. David Harmon, Treasurer, Terralingua, P.O.Box 122, Hancock, MI
49930-0122, <dharmon at terralingua.org>.] TERRALINGUA is the name of a
nonprofit, nongovernmental international organization devoted to
preserving the world's linguistic diversity, and to investigating
parallels and links between biological and cultural diversity.

>Excellent comments, thank you, Claire and all.  All these
>discussions and comments lead us to an important task for us: we
>need to make the general public, as well as those who have influence
>on policy making including media people, aware of the
>ethnolinguistic or minority language situations, of the cultural and
>intellectual values of languages, and of sheer pleasure (not pain)
>of having diverse languages among us.  To begin with, the following
>organizations may be the places to do such work -- in addition there
>are a number of excellent conferences organized (e.g. on language
>UNESCO has supported a number of cultural preservation projects
>throughout the world.  They have also encouraged preservation and
>development of minority languages.  Contact:
>	Madame Noriko Aikawa, Chief of Section
>	Intangible Cultural Heritage Section
>	7, Place de Fontenoy
>	75700 Paris
>	France
>	Tel: 33-1 45 68 45 19; Fax: 33-1 42 73 04 01
>Deutsche Gesellschaft f? Sprachwissenschaft. Arbeitsgruppe Bedrohte
>Sprachen. [Contact: Hans-J?gen Sasse, Chair, University of K?n.
><am015 at rsl.rrz.Uni-Koeln.de>]
>Purpose is to draw attention to endangered languages and their
>documentation; to promote field work in graduate curricula; and to
>develop sources of support for endangered language field work.
>Foundation for Endangered Languages. [Contact: Dr. Nicholas Ostler,
>President, Batheaston Villa, 172 Bailbrook Lane, Bath, BA1 7AA,
>England; Phone +44-1225-85-2865; Fax: +44-1225-85-9258;
><nostler at chibcha.demon.co.uk>]
>The Foundation supports, enables, and assists the documentation,
>protection and promotion of endangered languages.
>TERRALINGUA. [Contact: Dr. Luisa Maffi, President, Department of
>Psychology, Northwestern University, 102 Swift Hall, 2029 Sheridan
>Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208-2710, <maffi at nwu.edu>; Dr. David
>Harmon, Secretary, The George Wright Society, P.O. Box 65, Hancock,
>Michigan 49930-0065, <gws at portage1.portup.com>]
>TERRALINGUA is the name of a nonprofit, nongovernmental
>international organization devoted to preserving the world?s
>linguistic diversity, and to investigating parallels and links
>between biological and cultural diversity.
>The Endangered Language Fund. [Dr. Doug Whalen, President;
>Department of Linguistics, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520;
><whalen at haskins.yale.edu>]
>Nonprofit organization devoted to the scientific study of endangered
>languages; the support of community-initiated preservation efforts;
>the broader dissemination of the linguistic results of these efforts.
>>Dear all,
>>>  Just a few comments:
>>>  1. we can be definitely sure that more people "out there" (in the "real"
>>>  world, not in this list) prefer Bic Mac to grub. We have an
>>>objective proof:
>>>  if more people wanted grub, McDonald's would be selling grub. Therefore:
>>My original tongue/grub-in-cheek posting was taken much more seriously
>>than I intended! and I probably should have admitted from the start that
>>I'm a vegetarian. While it usually won't offend anyone if I refuse a big
>>mac, refusing a hunk of subcutaneous turtle fat or <insert organic matter
>>of choice> would have been very rude to the old ladies who saved it
>>specially for me (ultimately the main reason a lot of us end up eating
>>weird stuff, right?)
>>>  3. I wouldn't want Bourdieu to teach me what "free market" means.
>>>Nobody has
>>  > ever said that a market decision always works to the best
>>interest of those
>>>  who make it. Certainly not Adam Smith and the liberal thinkers. We make bad
>>>  decisions everyday - we buy things which don't work or which we discover we
>>>  could have bought for a better price. But our decisions are still free - we
>>>  can be persuaded to buy unnecessary things, OK. But to be persuaded to do X
>>Richard Trudgen has written an excellent book on this sort of thing in
>>Australia (particularly concerning Yolngu speakers from Arnhemland, but it
>>applies equally well to many other parts of the country too); it's called
>>"Why warriors lie down and die."
>>Someone made a comment in a recent posting about separating the languages
>>from the speakers, and asked why we should preserve the languages if the
>>speakers themselves don't want to speak them. A lot of Aboriginal people
>>I've talked to have said things along the lines of their parents gave up
>>their languages and talked English to their children because they thought
>>it would give them better opportunities to get a job and have a better
>>life. It didn't work because most of the other factors of disadvantage are
>>still there - terrible health conditions, terrible nutrition, terrible
>>educational opportunities, very limited employment opportunities (because
>>of the above), psychologically often very stressful living conditions
>>(alcohol abuse, domestic violence, very high youth suicide and the like).
>>So the opportunities for their kids aren't considerably better, AND
>>they've lost their language and culture, with nothing much to replace it.
>>Most of these languages are moribund and nothing is going to make young
>>kids suddenly start speaking them in the near future. However, there is
>>nothing to say that sometime in the future such communities won't have an
>>interest in language revival. (See, for example, Rob Amery's account of
>>Kaurna language revival.) Surely it's in both linguists' and communities'
>>best interests to do as thorough job as possible, In the community I was
>>working in last year, for example, there were about 30 speakers of the
>>language, all over 55. They were pushing the language documentation and
>>revival project; with a few exceptions most of the community didn't care
>>(they had no objection to the project taking place, they just weren't
>>interested in it).
>>Now, neither language documentation projects or any language revival
>>projects have much economic "value", but I believe it's a very big mistake
>>to measure things like this in purely economic terms. The preservation of
>>historic buildings, for instance, makes little economic sense; funding for
>>the arts, the National Portrait Gallery, for example, are an economic
>>waste of time. If we didn't spend money on things like this we'd be
>>"better off" ecomonically, but not culturally.
>>So, if we choose to view these things purely economically and decide that
>>it isn't "worth it" to preserve in some form the many highly endangered
>>languages we can still do something about, we'd better be damn sure we're
>>doing the right thing, and that we're not going to decide in 40 years time
>>that we really could have afforded it, after all.
>>Claire Bowern
>>Department of Linguistics
>>Harvard University
>>305 Boylston Hall
>>Cambridge, MA, 02138
>>Endangered-Languages-L Forum: endangered-languages-l at cleo.murdoch.edu.au
>>Web pages http://cleo.murdoch.edu.au/lists/endangered-languages-l/
>>Subscribe/unsubscribe and other commands: majordomo at cleo.murdoch.edu.au
>Akira Y. Yamamoto
>The University of Kansas
>Department of Anthropology
>Fraser Hall 622
>1415 Jayhawk Blvd.
>Lawrence, KS 66045-7556
>Phone: (785) 864-2645
>FAX: (785) 864-5224
>Anthropology: http://www.ukans.edu/?kuanth/
>Linguistics: http://www.linguistics.ukans.edu/

Luisa Maffi (Ph.D.)
Terralingua: Partnerships for Linguistic and Biological Diversity
1766 Lanier Place NW, Washington, DC 20009, U.S.A.
Phone/Fax: +1.202.9866139
Email: maffi at terralingua.org
Internet: www.terralingua.org
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