New research centre to save 'lost languages'
Stan & Sandy Anonby
stan-sandy_anonby at sil.org
Sun Mar 28 13:07:39 UTC 2004
Yeah, it's nostalgic. I work in Brazil, where Indians opt for Portuguese.
Rule of thumb: Speakers of lesser languages learn the more powerful
languages; never vice versa. Some rare folk like linguists learn lower
prestige languages, but usually the result is to enhance their own prestige
in the world of dominant language.
----- Original Message -----
From: "P. Kerim Friedman" <kerim.list at oxus.net>
To: <lgpolicy-list at ccat.sas.upenn.edu>
Sent: Friday, March 26, 2004 11:02 PM
Subject: New research centre to save 'lost languages'
> New research centre to save 'lost languages'
> Polly Curtis
> Wednesday March 24, 2004
> A language is lost every two weeks, according to the head of a new
> centre for research into endangered languages, which is being launched
> People are increasingly choosing to teach their children more commonly
> used languages in a bid to help them gain work in later life, their
> research says. As a result half of the 6,500 languages spoken around
> the world are anticipated to disappear in the next century - a rate of
> one every fortnight.
> The new centre for research into endangered languages at the School of
> Oriental and African Studies in London, which is backed by £20m grant,
> is being launched today by the Princess Royal.
> Researchers will use the money to record and archive endangered
> languages and look at ways of encouraging people to retain their
> indigenous languages.
> Professor Peter Austin director of the Endangered Languages Academic
> Project, said: "The main reason that languages are lost is that
> communities are switching to speaking other people's language - they
> adopt a language of a local area.
> "Many people in east Africa are opting for Swahili; Indians in central
> and south America speak Spanish to their children to give them an
> economic advantage."
> The professor, who himself speak three Australian aboriginal languages
> as well as two Indonesian dialects, English, some Japanese, German and
> Italian, added: "The tragedy is that although people may decide now
> that it's better to switch, in a generation or two, their children or
> grandchildren will regret that. We're trying to help people remain
> multi-lingual by adding languages rather than losing them."
> Along with the endangered languages the centre aims to preserve large
> elements of the disappearing cultures. Archived material which
> Professor Austin has gathered so far includes interviews with the last
> known speaker of Jiwarli, a western Australian Aboriginal dialect, Jack
> Butler, who died in 1986.
> Mr Butler describes his childhood experiences as well as telling
> traditional aboriginal stories. From between 250 and 270 Australian
> Aboriginal languages at the time of European invasion, 160 are now
> extinct; 70 are severely threatened and only 20 are still widely used.
> Audio: Jack Butler the last native speaker of the western Australian
> aboriginal language Jirwarli, tells a traditional story (real audio)
> Audio: the translation (real audio)
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