New research centre to save 'lost languages'

Stan & Sandy Anonby stan-sandy_anonby at
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.

Stan Anonby

----- Original Message -----
From: "P. Kerim Friedman" <kerim.list at>
To: <lgpolicy-list at>
Sent: Friday, March 26, 2004 11:02 PM
Subject: New research centre to save 'lost languages'

> <
> 0,9865,1176959,00.html>
> 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
> today.
>   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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