Did you know that NG has a project about endangered languages? I didn’t know until yesterday. NG collects data from even the languages that are spoken by as few as 600 people. With this project, they create an audio-visual dictionary, picturing the cultures in details. Here is a very informative article by Nancy Messieh, explaining the extinct of the languages and examining this extinction in scientific terms.
With nearly 80 percent of the world’s population speaking a mere 1 percent of its languages, National Geographic’s Enduring Voices project is trying to slow down the rate at which languages are disappearing. We’re more than used to hearing about species going extinct, but we don’t often look at languages with the same perspective. Threatened by cultural change, government repression, and more, the reality is, however, that every 14 days a language dies, and at that rate, 100 years from now, more than half of the 7,000 existing languages will have disappeared.
As part of the process, National Geographic has launched 8 new talking dictionaries containing more than 32,000 entries and 24,000 audio recordings. Not only do the dictionaries give insight into the languages spoken, they also shed light on the cultures formed around them, with photographs of cultural objects.
Some of the languages National Geographic is documenting have as few as 600 speakers. The 600 speakers of Matukar Panau, for example, live in 2 small villages in Papau New Guinea, and have never had their language documented, let alone even seen the Internet. Just over 3,000 words and audio files, along with 67 pictures, have now been added to the dictionary, and both computers and Internet have reached the remote village.
For the whole article, click here.
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