endangered languages

Rapping in Sami

Tweet Sami is a language spoken by about 20,000 people around the Arctic Circle.  Santa Claus would bark out his orders to his reindeer in Sami. Such languages are fast disappearing, and only local energy and devotion can keep them alive, supported by enlightened language policies. Why it is in our interest to keep these […]

Problems with multilingualism

Tweet Karina is from Prague and spoke Czech in her family growing up. She attended high school in Frankfurt and speaks accent-free German. She now lives in Vienna and she and her husband are raising their children bilingual – Czech and German.  She spent her junior high school year in Maine and speaks almost perfect […]

Endangered Languages Week

Tweet Did you know this was endangered languages week?  I didn’t, but I’m glad it’s happening.  With all the alarming news that has hogged the headlines over the past few months, endangered languages have sunk to a lower rung of our consciousness, mine anyway.  So it’s time to stop and think for a moment about […]

Brand New Alphabet for Northern Caucasian Languages

Tweet I am copying into this blogpost an email which appeared on the  Language Policy List lgpolicy-list@groups.sas.upenn.edu about the ancient languages of the Caucasus Mountains. I have edited out some parts of it which were technical, in order to make it a tidy size for a blog post, and to make it accessible to non-specialists.  The […]

Bilingualism makes us smarter longer

Tweet An article in The New York Times today makes the case that not only does bilingualism make us smarter as children, it also wards off mental deterioration in older people. I might add my own two cents on this subject. There is no time in life when bilingualism is anything less than a great bonus […]

Linguapax Award

Tweet Do you know there is an “International Mother Language Day?”  It’s today, February 21st. It is sponsored by Linguapax, a non-governmental organization supporting linguistic diversity, in the belief that “…essential vehicles of identity and cultural expression are inseparable from the goals peace and intercultural understanding.” The Linguapax Award for 2012 is being given to: […]

Language Controversies

Tweet Language seems benign – don’t swear in front of your grandmother, don’t shout “fire” in a crowded theatre, and you’re okay. There are, however, many inflammatory issues which intimately involve language and here are a few. Controversy One:  The New York City Council once debated whether to ban the words, “bitch, “whore,” and “nigger,” […]

Wampanoag Comes Home for Thanksgiving

Tweet Wampanoag is the language of the tribe that coexisted with the Pilgrims. Their language disappeared in the 19th century, but has recently been reconstructed by a Wampanoag woman, Annie “Little Doe” Baird, who won a MacArthur “genius” Award for her work.  A whole fascinating article can be found here. A film about  Baird and the […]

Saving Endangered Languages ….. a few last reasons

Tweet Here are a last few thoughts on the reasons to save endangered languages, the last of a series of posts. Languages are interesting.  Each language leads to a troves of knowledge about the human brain, human behavior, and human systems of governance. It also keeps us humble – languages discovered by colonialists were dismissed […]

Saving Endangered Languages … still more

Tweet Here are a few more reasons why we should make the effort to save endangered languages. Languages contain our history.  Take away Shakespeare, Pepys, Wordsworth, Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, Eugene O’Neill, Stephen Sondheim, and a host of other poets, authors, and lyricists and much of English speaking culture becomes invisible. As the Irish seek […]