“RESEARCHERS LOOK TO SAVE DISAPPEARING LANGUAGES ONLINE”
BY SHEILA RILEY
FOR INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY
NOVEMBER 9, 2004
Academics are creating repositories of information in cyberspace – and making the ivory tower more democratic in the process.
Preserving endangered languages is one example. Researchers look to catalog languages that are rarely spoken, so that the tongues won’t be lost to the
“People whose languages have ceased to be spoken have come to appreciate them afterward,” said Doug Whalen, a linguistics researcher at Haskins Laboratories, affiliated with Yale University in New Haven, Conn.
A record of the language, particularly a spoken record, is invaluable – especially if a tongue is disappearing.
Whalen says efforts to revive languages can be difficult because the communities that spoke them – mostly indigenous peoples – are often scattered.
Online access to materials is critical for academics studying languages and people who are trying to recover lost languages, he says.
The University of California, Berkeley, is working to get its endangered-language print and audio archives online for that reason.
Preserving languages has a huge societal benefit, according to Leanne Hinton, head of UC Berkeley’s linguistics department. The alternative would lead to losses at many levels, she says. “When we lose a language in the world, we’re losing a lot (more…)