Noel E. Rude
nrude at FISICA.USON.MX
Tue Nov 28 21:58:29 UTC 1995
Since the network isn't exactly overflowing right now,
I'll take this opportunity to send a message my son has been
pestering me about for a long time. He wants me to suggest
that somebody out there start putting together a multimedia
CD (compact disc) on the languages of the world. He happens
to think that we linguists cannot afford to have the general
public remain so blithely ignorant of us and of what we do,
and that such a CD would contribute toward alleviating that
He tells me, for example, that NASA has been putting out
many CDs. Strapped for funds and facing deep public apathy,
NASA apparently intends to stimulate interest and soften the
hearts of taxpayers. They, of course, require vast funds.
We linguists can live off the crumbs. But my son thinks that
even the crumbs can dry up. He thinks it would be to our
benefit to produce things which school children would find in
their libraries. And he maintains that young folks do look
at these things, that they would boot up a computer and have
a look at something on the languages of the world.
What would this have to be like? Maybe video recordings
with accompanying written text, voice printouts, short
grammatical descriptions, paradigms with explanation, an
analyzed text, maps, maybe some music ... I think it would
need to be sophisticated enough to really teach some
linguistics, yet at the same time not so much so that it
would dissuade the casually interested. That's a tall order,
I know. But things like this are being done in other fields,
so I'm told.
It would aim for a representative sampling of the
world's languages, Russian, Navajo, Chinese, Modern Hebrew,
Zulu, whatever could be collected. It could start small and
grow with succeeding editions.
Perhaps something like this is already in the works and
somebody will set me straight here. At any rate, I think
it's a good idea, if among us there is the technical knowhow,
energy, and interest.
Now next time my son asks whether I've sent that Funknet
message, I can say, YES.
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