“When Languages Die” translated into Arabic

The Arabic translation of Dr. K. David Harrison’s book “When Languages Die” was just published. Many thanks to King Saud University of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for publishing it! Here are some photos of the newly translated book.

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Lecture Series w/ K. David Harrison at The Explorers Club (NYC)

ImageDr. K. David Harrison will be speaking at The Explorers Club in NYC on February 24th, 2014. In this presentation, Dr. Harrison describes the scientific and social consequences of language loss. Contrary to predictions of improved global commerce and communication, Dr. Harrison argues that language extinction leads to intellectual impoverishment in all fields of science and culture. Entire bodies of unwritten knowledge that have sustained us on this planet are eroding.

explorers club Member Ticket price:  Free

Guest Ticket Price: $20

Student Ticket Price: Free to EC Student Members, $5 w/ valid student ID

Reservations are secured on a first come, first served basis.

To make a reservation, please call 212.628.8383  or email reservations@explorers.org

For more details, visit the event listing on The Explorers Club website.

Thanks for reading! Share the link to people in the NYC region who may be interested in attending this event.

Press Release: Smithsonian Folklife Festival Program to Raise Awareness of Global Language Loss

The United Nation’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization estimates that of the more than 7,000 languages in the world, nearly half of them are in danger of becoming extinct by the end of this century. The Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival program “One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage” will focus attention on this urgent issue of global language loss by bringing together communities from around the world that are fighting to save their native tongues and cultural traditions.

“One World, Many Voices” is produced in collaboration with UNESCO, the National Geographic Society’s Enduring Voices Project and the Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices Initiative.

The Festival will be held Wednesday, June 26, through Sunday, June 30, and Wednesday, July 3, through Sunday, July 7, outdoors on the National Mall between Seventh and 14th streets. All events are free. Festival hours are from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day with evening events such as concerts and dance parties beginning at 6 p.m. The Festival is co-sponsored by the National Park Service.

“Language is a vital part of our human heritage and it is important to the culture and history of the people that speak it,” said program co-curator Marjorie Hunt. “The Festival provides a powerful platform for speakers of different languages to share their cultures and worldview with a large public audience on the National Mall.”

Hunt is co-curating the program with K. David Harrison, professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College, and author of When Languages Die. Harrison has spent his career documenting and helping to revitalize languages.

Festival visitors will get the chance to hear and learn from participants representing 15 cultures working to preserve their languages. Musicians, storytellers, singers, dancers, poets, culinary experts, and craftspeople will share how language embodies cultural knowledge, identity, values, technologies and arts. The program will include performances, craft demonstrations, interactive discussion sessions, community celebrations and hands-on family activities.

Native Hawaiians will demonstrate hula and discuss the role language has played in passing down the dance to the next generation. Native Americans from the Maine’s Passamaquoddy tribe will demonstrate how basket weaving is used to keep language alive, while participants from the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians in Oregon will perform the traditional Feather Dance and discuss how an online talking dictionary is helping to revitalize the tribes’ language.

Indigenous groups from Colombia—including the Wayuu, Palenque and Kamsá—will demonstrate native crafts, music and poetry while the Koro people of India will build bamboo spirit houses and share with visitors how they help ensure a good harvest. Internationally known Klezmer pioneer Michael Alpert will perform for visitors during the Festival.

Sponsors

Major support for “One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage” is provided by the Dr. Frederik Paulsen Foundation, the Microsoft Local Language Program, the Embassy of Colombia in Washington, D.C., the Ministry of Culture of Colombia, the Caro y Cuervo Institute, the U.S. State Department Fund for Innovation in Public Diplomacy, the United States Embassy in Bolivia, the Inter-American Foundation, the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the University of Hawaii System and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

About the Festival

The 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival will feature three programs. In addition to “One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage,” the programs are “Hungarian Heritage: Roots to Revival” and “The Will to Adorn: African American Diversity, Style, and Identity.”

The Folklife Festival, inaugurated in 1967, honors people from across the United States and around the world. With approximately 1 million visitors each year, the Festival unites presenters and performers in the nation’s capital to celebrate the diversity of cultural traditions. It is produced by the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

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Media Only

Amy Kehs (202) 390-5543; kehsa@si.edu

Becky Haberacker 202) 633-5183; haberackerb@si.edu

Media website

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Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage at the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

One World, Many Voices

Of the nearly 7,000 languages spoken in the world today—many of them unrecorded—up to half may disappear in this century. As languages vanish, communities lose a wealth of knowledge about history, culture, the natural environment, and the human mind.

 

The One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage program at the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival will highlight language diversity as a vital part of our human heritage. Cultural experts from communities around the world will demonstrate how their ancestral tongues embody cultural knowledge, identity, values, technologies, and arts.

Through performances, craft demonstrations, interactive discussion sessions, community celebrations, and hands-on educational activities, highly skilled musicians, storytellers, singers, dancers, craftspeople, language educators, and other cultural practitioners will come together on the National Mall to share their artistry, knowledge, and traditions; to discuss the meaning and value of their languages to their cultural heritage and ways of life; and to address the challenges they face in maintaining the vitality of their languages in today’s world.

ImageFestival visitors will be able to talk with Kalmyk epic singers and Tuvan stone carvers from Russia, Koro rice farmers from India, Passamaquoddy basketmakers from Maine, Kallawaya medicinal healers and textile artists from Bolivia, Garifuna drummers and dancers from Los Angeles and New York, and many others.

When a language disappears, unique ways of knowing, understanding, and experiencing the world are lost forever. The expert culture bearers participating in the One World, Many Voices program will richly illustrate these different ways of knowing and show how cultural and language diversity enrich the world.

The One World, Many Voices program is produced by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in collaboration with UNESCO, the National Geographic Society’s Enduring Voices Project, and the Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices Initiative.

2013 Festival Schedule

47th Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall,

Washington D.C., USA.

June 26-June 30 and July 3-July 7, 2013

Open daily 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Evening events 5:30 p.m.

A full schedule will be available in June 2013.

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K. David Harrison at the University of Montana

On Wednesday, 17 April, Mizuki Miyashita of the UM Linguistics Program hosted a series of events with Dr. K. David Harrison, an Associate Professor of Linguistics at Swarthmore College and a National Geographic fellow. Two days before Dr. Harrison’s visit, there was a viewing of the documentary “The Linguists” (in which Dr. Harrison is featured). At Q&A event following the film, Dr. Harrison updated his audience on his most recent projects: Enduring Voices, jointly ventured at National Geographic, and Talking Dictionaries at the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages.

Dr. Harrison’s public lecture, “Endangered Languages: Local and Global Perspectives,” was very well-attended, and every copy of his book “When Languages Die” was purchased at the book-signing. Dr. Harrison explains that out of approximately 7,000 world languages, 83 are spoken by 80% of the world’s population, and the rest by indigenous or small language communities around the globe in regions which he calls “Language Hotspots.” For example, the Ös language (also known as Chulym) of the remotest regions of Siberia is currently spoken by only 7 people. Dr. Harrison has made the very first recordings of some of these languages. In some cases, these recordings are of the last speaker’s speech. For instance, one of his Talking Dictionaries is of the Siletz Dee-Ni language in Oregon, currently spoken by only one person. Harrison describes how language death eventually leads to intellectual impoverishment in all fields of science and culture. These endangered languages contain “traditional knowledge” of plants, animal species, ecosystems and medicinal remedies. Sometimes language loss translates to the loss of worldviews.

At his talk, he also discussed efforts to sustain, value and revitalize linguistic diversity worldwide and showed the audience original field materials and recordings of “language warriors” to illustrate local perspectives on language endangerment and extinction. As Dr. Harrison stated, “speakers generally love their languages, and want to keep them.” One of the video clips Harrison shared was of a young man singing a hip hop song in Aka (spoken in Northeastern India). Some Aka elders disapprove of the language being used in this way, but according to Harrison these young speakers are a “key to keeping the language.”

About half of world’s languages are predicted to become extinct in this century, including Native American languages of Montana. This event also raised an awareness of endangered indigenous knowledge encoded in languages of Montana, and brought together a diverse group of people: faculty and students of Linguistics, Anthropology, Native American Studies, Communication Studies, Environmental Studies and Music, as well as members of local Indigenous communities including Salish, Kootenai and Blackfeet.

The event was supported by the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Department of Anthropology, Department of Environmental Studies, Department of Communication Studies, and Department of Native American Studies, Department of Society and Conservation in the College of Forestry and Conservation, Green Thread, the UM Linguistics Club, and the Linguistics Program.

Here are some photos from K. David Harrison’s trip:

ImageDr. Harrison at the University of Montana.

ImageK. David Harrison with Salish tribal linguists Germaine White and Tom Smith.

For more details about his lecture at the University of Montana, check out this article published in the Missoulian. Thanks for reading!

Thank you to all of our donors!

Without you all, our Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for Talking Dictionaries in Papua New Guinea would not have been a success. We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to all of our donors:

Tarek Milleron, Dave Prine, Jessica Illman, Anna Belew, Michael A. Hall, Allison Taylor-Adams, Laetitia Chaneac, Julie Kanakanui, Barbara Partee, David Robinson, Arpiar Saunders, Eric Raimy, Molly Allison-Baker, Robert Munro, Nori Heikkinen, David Nolin, John Ziker, Lee Wilson Ballard, Emily Gref, Mikael Siren, Ryan Henke, Robert Wessling, Sarah Truesdale, Katherine Vincent, Claire Catania, Ulrike Christofori, Boise State Linguistics Lab, Walid Saleh, Chris Donlay, Debbie Anderson, Carla Hurd, Fran Osborne, Laurence Cotton, Sema Balaman, Kimberly Jackson, Sarah Laskin, Audrey Van Herck, James Glenz, Edward Hess, Carley Hydusik, Tamra Wysocki-Niimi, Carl Franco, Bryony Rigby, William Graeper, Tania Reino, Ilona Staples, Nancy Mariano, Stephen Holt, Alex Francis, Alex Sinton, Carole Smith, Bewenca, M. Skelly, Les and Janice Lederer.

THANK YOU!

12 hours left!

We have 12 hours left to raise $2750 on Indiegogo. Our goal with those funds is to teach a 4-day digital media skills workshop at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (UNITECH) in which local indigenous students will learn how create new Talking Dictionaries for their own native languages.

Please help us out by chipping in! Thanks for your support!

DONATE HERE: http://igg.me/at/talking-dictionaries

ImageLanguage Documentation Fieldwork in Papua New Guinea: John Agid (left) speaking to Dr. Gregory D. S. Anderson in Matugar village. Photo by Chris Rainier.

36 hours left!

Here is an important message from K. David Harrison, our Director of Research, about our current Indiegogo fundraising campaign:

Dear friends of Living Tongues,

This is K. David Harrison writing to you to let you know there are 36 hours left in our fundraising campaign to raise money for creating new Talking Dictionaries in Papua New Guinea.

Your gift will go towards training students to create cutting-edge Talking Dictionaries for some of the world’s most under-documented languages. Please consider donating today.

Donate here: http://igg.me/at/talking-dictionaries/x/420466

For those of you who have already donated, I want to say thank you for you generosity, and for helping language activists and linguists to safeguard linguistic diversity around the world.

Thank you!

K. David Harrison, Ph.D
Director of Research
Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages

ps. Check out the Talking Dictionaries we have already built, along with new ones for minority languages in Latin America: http://talkingdictionary.org/

Image K. David Harrison working with speakers of the Matukar language in Papua New Guinea. Photo by Chris Rainier.

Talking Dictionaries of Latin America

We are pleased to announce that 14 new Talking Dictionaries for Latin America are now under development and are available for online viewing and listening. The new dictionaries were created in collaboration with indigenous speakers, linguists and technical specialists at two recent digital skills workshops in South America.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 12.50.50 PMThe Mam, Mapudungun, Mazahua, Miahuatec Zapotec, Monkox Besiro, Pipil (Nahuat), Quechua Chanka, Tsesungun and Yanesha were produced in Chile at our digital skills workshop called “Voces Duraderas” that we held at the Biblioteca de Santiago in Chile. Dr. Gregory D. S. Anderson and Anna Luisa Daigneault traveled to Chile to teach the workshop in January 2013. We would like to acknowledge the great work of the following indigenous speakers who attended the event and learned the digital skills necessary to build these new dictionaries:

– Andres Ozuna Ortiz (Yshyr-chamacoco, Paraguay)
– Anselmo Nuyado Ancapichun and Jonattan Laoiza Ancapichun (Tsesungun, Chile)
– Espíritu Bautista and Elmo Bautista (Yanesha / Amuesha, Peru)
– Judith Condori Gavilán (Quechua Chanka, Peru)
– María Inés Huenuñir Antihuala (Mapudungun, Chile)
– Emiliano Cruz Santiago (Miahuatec Zapotec San Bartolomé Loxicha, México)
– Verónica Fidencio Núñez (Mazahua, México)
– Carlos Enrique Cortez (Pipil / Nahuat, El Salvador)
– José Reginaldo Pérez Vail (Mam, Guatemala)
– Ignacio Tomicha Chuve (Monkox Besiro, Bolivia)

Many thanks to Eddie Avila from Rising Voices who helped us facilitate the workshop, and to Cristian Maturana and the rest of the staff at Biblioteca de Santiago who helped us make the “Voces Duraderas” workshop a success for all who took part.

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Talking Dictionaries of Colombia

The Talking Dictionaries for Nasa Yuwe, Sáliba, Embera, Uitoto and Wayuunaiki were produced by a team of linguists, indigenous specialists and language activists at a workshop at the Instituto Caro y Cuervo in Colombia. Dr. K. David Harrison traveled there in October 2012 to help facilitate the workshop and produce these dictionaries, which are still under construction. Check out our blog posting about his trip.

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These online dictionaries are a powerful educational tools for communities that are trying to revitalize their endangered languages. Each site is programmed to be bilingual so that speakers of the local dominant language can easily use it. It serves as a resource to help fluent speakers teach their native language to a new generation of speakers.

These Talking Dictionaries were created by the Enduring Voices Project funded by the National Geographic Society and Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages. Additional support and hosting by Swarthmore College. Interface and database design under the direction of Jeremy Fahringer.

If you love Talking Dictionaries as much as we do, please consider donating to our fundraising campaign to build 12 new Talking Dictionaries in Papua New Guinea.

Thanks for reading!

Indiegogo Fundraising Campaign for Talking Dictionaries in PNG

ImageGibe and Pipe, Huli wigmen, in the Southern Highlands of Papua new Guinea. Traditional ceremonial paint colors: Mali-ambua-hare, Waterfall: Iba-Fugu. Photo by Chris Rainier.

This post is about our fundraising campaign on Indiegogo. We have 9 days left to raise $2750 that will go towards creating new Talking Dictionaries in Papua New Guinea. Please consider donating. Thank you for your support.

Background. Every two weeks, the last fluent speaker of a language dies, and humanity loses another language. Nearly half of the world’s languages are likely to vanish in the next 100 years.

Over the last decade at Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, we have worked with hundreds of people dedicated to endangered language documentation around the world. Through community collaboration, we have made some of the first-ever digital recordings of dozens of endangered languages, and we have traveled to many countries to train language activists in documentation techniques that can help preserve their cultural and linguistic legacy.
 
Papua New Guinea’s Languages. The island nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG) represents the greatest single concentration of linguistic diversity on earth, with 830 listed languages identified thus far, and an unknown number remaining to be scientifically documented.
 
Without PNG, no survey of the world’s languages would be complete, nor would our understanding of the current global process of languages extinction. With so many of PNG’s languages being undocumented and in danger of disappearing, now is the time to start creating recordings of these languages, and helping local activists and students to create materials that can preserve their languages for the future.

 

Our goal is to teach a 4-day digital media skills workshop at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (UNITECH) in which local indigenous students will learn how create new Talking Dictionaries for their own native languages. We have been invited by local scholars in Papua New Guinea to give this workshop later this year in October (2013), and we are raising the funds to make it happen.

Please donate! Our workshop is partially funded thanks to grants and donors, but we need a further $2750 to help cover the rest of our equipment and travel costs. Over 50 different local languages are represented at UNITECH. We aim to create Talking Dictionaries for 12 languages to start with, and then return once a year for the next 4 years to continue building more dictionaries with the students.
 
This will be the 4th time we teach a digital skills workshop of this kind, and the first time in the Pacific. Check out pictures and write-ups from our previous workshops for speakers of endangered languages (organized in collaboration with National Geographic) held in Santa Fe, New Mexico (USA); Shillong, Meghalaya (Northeast India) and Santiago (Chile).

 

What is a Talking Dictionary? It takes the traditional paper dictionary to a whole new level. It is an interactive online tool that digitally preserves words and phrases, and it allows the user to hear high-quality audio recordings of words in their language, as well as record and upload new content.

The tool is a powerful educational tool for communities that are trying to revitalize their endangered languages. The online dictionary is programmed to be bilingual so that speakers of the local dominant language can easily use it. It serves as a resource to help fluent speakers teach their native language to a new generation of speakers.

Talking Dictionaries help create visibility for minority languages on the Web. They are a virtual space where speakers can go to listen to their language, no matter where they are in the world. Take a minute to check out our Talking Dictionary Portal, and our new site for the Talking Dictionaries of Latin America.

Why We Can Make a Difference: At the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, we are a small and dynamic team with a low overhead. We coordinate big long-term projects, such as the Talking Dictionaries, on a modest budget. Supporting us is a great way to support the creation of tools that will preserve threatened languages for future generations of speakers.

Thanks to a Talking Dictionary, you can listen to forms of human speech that you’ve never heard before, and get a further glimpse into the rich diversity of languages spoken on our planet.

We have a good relationship with a number of communities in Papua New Guinea because we have done language documentation there in the past. Here are some images from our fieldwork in Papua New Guinea in 2009.

Please donate online to our fundraising campaign!

Thanks for reading.

– The Living Tongues Team

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