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Google Site Helping Save Endangered Languages

Google Site Helping Save Endangered Languages
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When a language is lost, so is a culture, along with its speakers’ stories, their beliefs, their courtship rituals, their spirituality and their history. All that is unique about a particular group of people disappears when their language is lost. With half the world’s languages expected to disappear by the turn of the century, Google is putting its technology at the service of those whose languages are in danger of extinction.

The video (below) that explains the project has this to say about why the work is so important:

Language loss is often related to oppression and injustice. For these communities, preservation of their language is about the restoration of their cultural identities, their values and their heritage.

So Google is collaborating with the newly formed Alliance for Linguistic Diversity to create a digital library for speakers of endangered languages and those who care about them. “Endangered languages” is a space for people “to record, access, and share samples of and research on endangered languages, as well as to share advice and best practices for those working to document or strengthen languages under threat.”

Scroll around the Google map to see which languages are at risk. In my own part of British Columbia, the Shuswap and Okanagan languages are “severely endangered.”

When I click on the red dot closest to my home town, the language name appears. I learn there are 11 variants and dialects of Shuswap. I can listen to a traditional greeting song, learn pronunciation and find a beginning course in Colville-Okanagan Salish.

Next: Video Shows Why This Matters

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Photo 1 from Endangered Languages Web site; Photo 2 from promotional video

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4:47AM PDT on Apr 2, 2013

Good idea, thank you google

4:44AM PDT on Apr 2, 2013

A great thing!

12:32AM PDT on Jul 5, 2012

When a dominant culture takes over another, it further weakens the conquered one by forbidding them from speaking their own languages, as with the American Indians and native Hawaiians. It also means a loss of native knowledge, which is a loss to the planet.
This is a great project.

11:21AM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Glad Google is helping out:)

4:49AM PDT on Jul 2, 2012

Languages are also very important because it's difficult to think about something you can't say. There's a book called Blackfoot Physics which is about just that - specifically, that it's much easier to speak, and therefore think, about advanced physics in some Native American languages than it is in English or German. It's much easier to talk about psychic issues in Asian languages than in English, easier to write poetry in Gaelic but much easier to discuss colours in English than Gaelic, and so on.

4:15AM PDT on Jul 2, 2012


9:22AM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

so cool!!!

3:38PM PDT on Jun 30, 2012

i think we all should have a common tongue but keeping record of histories is very important too!

12:25PM PDT on Jun 30, 2012

It is tragic how many Native Americans I meet, and talk about the languages of the specific group of people they belong to. To get responses like "I do not know. I guess so. You know more about this then I do." The tragic thing is I am not Native American either. But when we lose a language, we lose a culture. Native American languages just cannot be preserved in the United States through the names of states, cities, rivers, lakes, mountains, and wildlife. Reservation schools are now involved in language immersion programs, and such programs like these should be supported by all Americans. I have seen the exact same situation in Australia too.

11:22AM PDT on Jun 30, 2012

Language = Culture. When we learn a few words in any language, we are helping cultural diversity and all the moreso if that language is endagered.

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