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Google Site Helping Save Endangered Languages

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“CBC News” spoke with Anthony Aristar, a linguistics professor who co-directs Eastern Michigan University’s Institute for Language Information and Technology. He helped create the Endangered Languages site and gives an example of what can happen because of it:

One person, for example, in Australia produced a series of rock songs in his language, and these became very popular in the aboriginal community that he was involved in and actually encouraged some people to actually start learning the language that they had lost.

The Internet facilitates this kind of collaboration in ways that would never have been possible before the World Wide Web became a public playground. The whole initiative rests on the willingness of indigenous peoples to share their knowledge and on the work of universities, non-profit organizations and now Google to ensure that knowledge is not lost.

For the next three years the site has funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Institute for Language Information and Technology and the University of Hawaii. That’s three years to generate the kind of excitement the project deserves, so that funders will come forward to ensure it continues.

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

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12 comments

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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

Wonderful!

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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