Endangered Languages in Museum

Doug Whalen whalen at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Sat Aug 31 17:35:25 UTC 2013

This is a terrible idea.  It tries to make a quick impression, but what will that impression be?  Small languages = death.  Do we like death? No.  Therefore, we don't like small languages.

Imagine that you had an exhibit on species diversity and at the end, you got to toss a baby panda into a coffin.  Strong metaphor?  Yes.  Appealing?  I hope not.

Please do us a favor and leave the coffin out of your exhibit.

Doug Whalen DhW

Lena Terhart <lena.terhart at GMX.DE> wrote ..
> Dear Colleagues,
> the UNIKATUM children's museum in Leipzig, Germany, is preparing an exhibition
> on language (http://www.kindermuseum-unikatum.de/papperlapapp.html in German).
> I thought it would be nice to present language endangerment as part of the exhibition
> and together with the responsible people of the museum, we are now thinking about
> one exhibit, probably a coffin that shall be filled with words that may die out.
> In order to present a big variety of endangered languages, I would like to ask
> you to contribute with
> - a list of max. 5 words in the endangered language (basic vocabulary, something
> that may be interesting for children, e.g. animals, plants, natural phenomena,
> or maybe also simple verbs)
> - in the orthographic convention you use
> - together with a translation
> - and some basic info about the geographic location and number and age of speakers
> or alternatively a link to your website where I can find the information
> Additionally, photographs of the speakers and/or environment could be very nice,
> and ideally also recordings of the words (MP3), but that is not a requisite - I
> know that the search for individual words and cutting process may be too time-consuming.
> The mounting of the exhibition will start on the 16th of september already so that
> I need the word lists until the 13th latest.
> Thanks!
> Lena

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