Rosetta Stone acquires the rights to endangered languages

Pamela Munro munro at
Fri Jan 21 15:48:38 UTC 2011

All these suggestions are truly scary.


Tim Thornes wrote:
> I would agree with this sentiment as well as with the inherent potential of a company like this to really screw up relationships with members of an endangered language community.  I mean, if Rosetta Stone as the "worldwide leader in language learning worldwide (sic)" ( can't help us, why would I think some nerdy academic with a microphone and a laptop could?  
> As one such, I am as capable as any big company of damaging relationships with community members, and I ought to know better.  Is there any expectation that RS does?
> Best,
> Tim
> Tim Thornes, PhD
> Assistant Professor of Linguistics
> Department of Writing
> University of Central Arkansas
> 201 Donaghey Avenue
> Conway, Arkansas  72035
> (501)450-5613
> tthornes at
>>>> John Du Bois  01/20/11 7:48 PM >>>
> I agree with Tom's assessment. One should not underestimate the damage 
> that a company with Rosetta Stone's tendencies to mislead could do in an 
> endangered language community.
> For example, they could insert a legal clause binding speakers that work 
> with them to work with nobody else in the future. If that's the last 
> speaker of the language, that's the end of the language, as far as 
> indigenous language revitalization efforts, language documentation, and 
> linguistic fieldwork go. Even if Rosetta Stone doesn't use this specific 
> legal tactic, if speakers end up feeling abused by them for whatever 
> reason, they may feel leery about working with anyone else on their 
> language. When there are few speakers in an endangered language 
> community, this can have a big negative impact.
> It may be worthwhile for some people involved in work with endangered 
> language communities to monitor Rosetta Stone's actions closely, and to 
> work with representatives of those communities to devise strategies for 
> mitigating any negative  effects.
> Jack Du Bois
> On 1/20/2011 10:16 AM, Tom Givon wrote:
>> Rosetta Stone is a f---ing fraud. I certainly won't recommend to my 
>> Ute friends that they do anything with them--if they asked me. 
>> However, preying on innocent customers is RS's specialty, and the 
>> Natives are just as gullible as the rest of us, an in many way more 
>> vulnerable. I hope they don't create more damage than history already 
>> has.  TG
>> ==============
>> On 1/20/2011 9:50 AM, Keith Johnson wrote:
>>> Hi Funksters,
>>> My subject heading is intentionally provocative, but this article 
>>> raises a couple of
>>> issues.  Is it a good thing for Rosetta Stone to have an endangered 
>>> languages
>>> unit?
>>> Keith Johnson

Pamela Munro,
Professor, Linguistics, UCLA
UCLA Box 951543
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1543

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