Indigenous language dormant for more than 100 years revived

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But a dedicated team has been trawling through historical documents for more than two decades to try to piece the language together.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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How An Octogenarian Preserved An Endangered Native American Language

Jordan Kushins

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

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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Linguists receive $260,000 grant to study endangered Irish language

September 22, 2014

By Scott Rappaport

“Although we all have tongues, we are surprisingly bad at knowing precisely what they’re doing or conveying that to others,” says UC Santa Cruz professor of linguistics Jaye Padgett.

Tongue motion, it turns out, is crucial to the documentation of endangered languages.

Who knew?

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Researchers Try to Save Some Middle-Eastern Languages From Extinction

Language is arguably the most universally important of human abilities, making it possible to pass on information and experiences like a baton through generations.

But about half of the 7,000 languages spoken around the world will not last the end of this century, according to the latest predictions. There is no single cause for the extinction of a language. Some of the common causes are the overbearing dominance of a few languages, such as Arabic, French and English, the social stigmas attached to using minority languages and the disruption of traditional ways of life.

Linguists argue that it’s in the interest of humankind to save the languages that are at risk. “The loss of a language can also mean the loss of an entire culture,” says the director of the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme at SOAS, University of London, Mandana Seyfeddinipur. She adds that there could be remedies to diseases that might never be passed on because after the last speaker dies, no one could understand any texts they left behind. “When a language dies then we’ll never know what those people knew,” she says.

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