Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Your Call 041409 Commons Series - What do we lose when a language dies?

What do we lose when a language dies? On the next Your Call we'll continue our series on Commons where we ask how we care for what we share. Most linguists and anthropologists believe that the majority of languages spoken now around the globe will disappear within our lifetime. What forms of knowledge are embedded in a language's structure and vocabulary and can we preserve it after the last speaker is gone? We'll talk with David Harrison, globe trotting linguist and author of When Languages Die and Laura Welcher, head of the San Francisco based Rosetta project. How harmful is it to humanity that such knowledge is lost forever? It's Your Call with Sandip Roy and you.

David Harrison in Philadelphia
Professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College. He is the author of When Languages Die: The Extinction of the World's Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge.

Laura Welcher
Archive Director for the Rosetta Project, a project of the San Francisco based Long Now foundation. Rosetta is building a publicly accessible digital library of human languages. Since becoming a National Science Digital Library collection in 2004, the Rosetta Archive has more than doubled its collection size, now serving nearly 100,000 pages of material documenting over 2,500 languages - the largest resource of its kind on the Net.

Click to Listen: Commons Series - What do we lose when a language dies?