14.843, FYI: Scholarships in Spain,Endangered Languages

LINGUIST List linguist at linguistlist.org
Sat Mar 22 05:54:28 UTC 2003

LINGUIST List:  Vol-14-843. Sat Mar 22 2003. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 14.843, FYI: Scholarships in Spain,Endangered Languages

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Date:  Wed, 19 Mar 2003 10:43:35 -0500
From:  "Carmen Velasco" <carmen.velasco.usa at correo.mec.es>
Subject:  Scholarships to Spanish Universities

Date:  Thu, 20 Mar 2003 09:12:50 -0500
From:  Doug Whalen <whalen at haskins.yale.edu>
Subject:  Endangered Language Opportunity

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  Wed, 19 Mar 2003 10:43:35 -0500
From:  "Carmen Velasco" <carmen.velasco.usa at correo.mec.es>
Subject:  Scholarships to Spanish Universities

The following information may be of interest:
The Embassy of Spain offers partial scholarships to University Faculty in
USA and Canada to attend summer courses in Spanish Universities.
The courses are intended for university and college faculty of Spanish
and/or of other disciplines, and who would like to learn or to improve their
knowledge of the Spanish language and culture.
For more information

-------------------------------- Message 2 -------------------------------

Date:  Thu, 20 Mar 2003 09:12:50 -0500
From:  Doug Whalen <whalen at haskins.yale.edu>
Subject:  Endangered Language Opportunity

   Dear Listers,
   I am passing along a request from Jack Hitt, a reporter from the
New York Times magazine.  He would like to take a personal approach
to describing the value of endangered languages.  In this time of
turmoil, examining the diversity in language, our most human trait,
may provide some comfort.  If you have suggestions, please send them
directly to Jack at hitt at aol.com.
   Doug Whalen DhW, President, Endangered Language Fund

My name is Jack Hitt, and I am a writer for the New York Times
Magazine. Ever since spending time in Canada's northern villages, I
have been following the story about endangered languages. I believe
just a few years ago, the Canadian government decided to spend a
decent sum of money trying to determine what languages are
disappearing and what can be done. I was stunned to find out how many
languages there were in Canada (and the world) and how many of them
are spoken by only a few surviving speakers.

Typically, the story I read is about the methodology used to preserve
the language, either in print or audio archives. Here is what I am
interested in doing. I want to tell this story by learning one of
these languages and going, as a journalist, to talk to the people who
still speak it. What gets lost with any language dying, among so many
things, is the stories of the people and the culture. So what I would
want to figure out, before I learn the language, is which one might
be the most likely to yield good stories. It would seem (although I
could be wrong) that I would want to find a language that was
actually quite close to blinking out--a language with only a few
speakers (say, under a hundred or so) left to talk. It would also
have to be a group that would have stories to tell. Stories about
their lives, their struggles in their lifetimes. But also, stories
about their culture. Their creation stories. Their stories that
explain the ruling forces in the universe. Their view of the

This story might be expanded to include some work among a group of
people who are trying to resurrect a language at the same time. But
that seems complimentary, at this point, to the central story of what
we lose when we lose a language. I read a piece, by someone rather
skeptical, who said that only good could come out of this loss
because more and more people would be learning English and therefore
joining the global economy. This seems hopelessly naive. Loss of
diversity, whether it's biological or linguistic (or economic), is
rarely a good thing.

I was a comp lit major in college (Spanish and Latin), so I am at
least comfortable memorizing lists and lists of nouns and verbs. But
that's the easy part. The hard part is this one, finding the right
language and culture, the one with the right stories, to tell, at
last, this story.

All the best,
Jack Hitt
Doug Whalen (whalen at haskins.yale.edu)
Haskins Laboratories
270 Crown St.
New Haven, CT 06511
203-865-6163, ext. 234
FAX:  203-865-8963

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