Thursday, November 16, 2006

More on Endangered Languages

Here are some general resources on endangered languages to supplement our reading of Spoken Here: First there are several organizations involved in this issue: Society for Endangered Languages, TerraLingua and the Foundation For Endangered Languages. Chicago Public Radio has an interview with the Foundation's Chairman, Nick Ostler. One thing I'll say is that these groups are very academic and their cause could really use some PR aimed at the layperson. In any case, there are some fun langauge sites to explore: Why not start translations the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? More language samples available at the Language Museum. Numbers in over 5000 languages can be found here. My favorite is a series of essays from openDemocracy on untranslatable words,
Every language has words that trigger personal truths, national histories, or cultural peculiarities; words that resonate in heart and mind as well as on the tongue. Can we translate the untranslatable?
Finally, UNESCO has a recent special issue of their newsletter the Messenger dedicated to endangered languages, and an interactive map of Africa.
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