Dying languages or Language Revival…by Velasquez

I enjoy languages (I speak 3-1/2 languages) and will probably be doing my final paper on language revival/dying languages.

Here are some of the website and articles I’ve been looking at:

http://www.endangeredlanguages.com/

This site covers endangered languages from all over the world. I had no idea my place of birth was home to a few of them! And I had no clue how many languages were on the verge of extinction. I think if I head down this research path I’ll probably focus on Central/South America or the Middle East. While this is a great starting point, that’s all it is. The technology behind reviving a language is a whole other kettle of fish.

There’s no single cohesive way to record a language:

http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/enduring-voices/

http://www.livingtongues.org/talkingdictionaries.html

There’s audio recordings, video recordings, databases, online tools, apps, and written documentation. Here’s a fellow who may point the way to some more ideas…I’ll contact him to see what his thoughts are:

http://challengingtraditions.wordpress.com/2013/04/

One of my concerns (and Coppélie hints to this) is the notion of technology being the silver bullet (didn’t the education world go through this a decade ago?):

Digital is not the savior of dying languages. We may be able to archive the languages, but languages are dead unless people speak them, and to speak them they need to interact with others and withing an environment that’s not hostile to that language. This may be something to explore…the archiving of languages vs. actually reviving them…

I think there’s an inherent problem in trying to revive a language outside of a given culture that is or has disappeared. I don’t say this to be mean, but just to point out that things like idiomatic expressions, subtle meaning, and things like double-entendres and jokes are often heavily dependent on context, without an environment or a mind who understands the environmental/social context , a dead language is like looking at a game board and not knowing the rules!

There’s plenty of fodder for this approach to endangered languages:

Peter Ladefoged  Another View of Endangered Languages Language Vol. 68, No. 4 (Dec., 1992), pp. 809-811

Ken Hale, Michael Krauss, Lucille J. Watahomigie, Akira Y. Yamamoto, Colette Craig, LaVerne Masayesva Jeanne and Nora C. England Endangered Lanuages. Language Vol. 68, No. 1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 1-42

Nancy C. Dorian  A Response to Ladefoged’s Other View of Endangered Languages Language Vol. 69, No. 3 (Sep., 1993), pp. 575-579

There’s also the political/cultural push for dominant cultures to eradicate other cultures, either forcibly or through other means (often economic in nature)…

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald Language Death by David Crystal Journal of Linguistics Vol. 38, No. 2 (Jul., 2002), pp. 443-445

http://www.worldaffairs.com.au/reviving-endangered-languages/

There’s also the cost involved in reviving a language:

http://www.meertens.knaw.nl/ss17/contributions/abstract.php?paperID=360

The topics surrounding language revival/dying languages are many…

Here are some videos I’ve been watching to get a better idea of what I’m getting into…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rRgoP1nG3c

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCVWltWfbBA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbE53FKUV5g

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KB7kLNwKEVU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxZAbA3NuEM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTk3JL01TZ0

I may have to narrow down this research a bit more. If you have any suggestions or would like to discuss this topic  I’d love to hear from you!

June 1, 2013   No Comments