We consistently find people who decry change and fear it will bring about the demise of English as we know it. But it’s totally harmless and offers us a window on the complex system that underlies our knowledge of language.
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Below is a handout I wrote up for my Semantics & Pragmatics class, summarizing Cliff Goddar’s 1998 article, ‘Bad arguments against semantic primitives’ (Theoretical Linguistics 24(2-3):129-156).
Natalie Whiting reported this story on Tuesday, October 7, 2014 12:42:00 AUS
ELEANOR HALL: For more than a century the Indigenous language once spoken in the region around Adelaide has been dormant.
There were no voice recordings and no native speakers left.
But a dedicated team has been trawling through historical documents for more than two decades to try to piece the language together.
Now people are holding whole conversations in the Kaurna language,e as Natalie Whiting reports.
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It’s easy to take translations for granted when Google can swap between Albanian and Zulu with the click of a button, but even that tech has real world limitations. Marie Wilcox is the last fluent speaker of Wukchumni, one of 130 different endangered Native American languages in the United States that don’t have any kind of digital—or analog—legacy.
Over the course of seven years in California’s San Joaquin Valley, she worked with her daughter and grandson to catalog everything she knows about the language. First, she hand-scrawled memories on scraps of paper; then, she hunt-and-pecked on an old keyboard to complete a dictionary and type out legends like “How We Got Our Hands.” Next, she recorded the whole thing on audio for pronunciation—it’s very specific!—and posterity.
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Saving Languages Through Korean Soap Operas
An online-media company has teamed up with linguists to preserve endangered tongues.
ROSE EVELETHSEP 23 2014, 10:42 AM ET
About 350,000 people in the world speak Udmurt, a language native to eastern Russia. Nearly 50 percent of global languages are at risk of going extinct, and Udmurt is one of them—a so-called “endangered language.” Preserving these languages is hard; as communities age and disperse, and as globalization pushes younger generations to study English, the incentives to learn an obscure, local language diminish.
But for Udmurt speakers, there’s a new way to share the language: the movieApocalypto. A team of translators has gone through the film and subtitled the whole thing in Udmurt. And it’s not just Apocalypto either—the translation is part of a wider push to take popular television shows and movies and leverage them in the fight against language extinction.
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