“Disappearing Languages” – K. David Harrison’s talk in Utah

Dr. K. David Harrison recently gave a presentation entitled “Disappearing Languages” at Brigham Young University, in Utah. He spoke about the factors leading to language extinction, why language preservation matters, and what steps are being taken to preserve endangered languages around the globe.

Read the excellent write-up by Samuel Wright, here:
http://humpreview.byu.edu/disappearing-languages/

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Tyler Heston reviews K. David Harrison’s acclaimed book, “The Last Speakers”

Harrison Last Speakers coverIn Language Documentation & Conservation Volume 8 (2014), pp. 113-118, Tyler Heston reviews K. David Harrison’s acclaimed book, “The Last Speakers”:

The Last Speakers is a highly personal look at language documentation, language endangerment, and language extinction. The book focuses on the experiences of individual speakers of highly endangered languages and the author’s own experiences as a linguist working with them. While aimed primarily at non-linguists, his engaging style, detailed examples, and colorful anecdotes make this a book that can be enjoyed by linguists and non-linguists alike.

Harrison’s work fulfills an important niche in the literature by not only discussing the need for documentation on a global level, but also by demonstrating the effects of endangerment on individual people and communities around the world. This juxtaposition of the local and global scales is one of the strong points of the work that sets it apart. The discussion of the global level sets the issues in context, while the individual stories exemplify the effects of endangerment on a personal level around the world.”

Download the full review by Tyler Heston here.
Read the rest of Language Documentation & Conservation Vol.8.
Order The Last Speakers on Amazon
Enjoy!
 

“The Linguists” and Dr. K. David Harrison at Loudoun Campus

The Loudoun Campus will host, “Talk of the Town: A Film Screening of ‘The Linguists’ and Keynote Speaker Dr. K. David Harrison.” The Linguists is an Emmy-nominated documentary produced in 2008 by Ironbound Films.

Event details
Monday, April 14th, 2014.   7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Loudoun Campus, Northern Virginia Community College (1000 Harry Flood Byrd Hwy, Sterling, VA 20164)
Waddell Theatre

This event is free and open to the public (more details here). There will be a question and answer session, book signing, and an Honors Program potluck to follow on the third floor in the LR lobby.

Screened at the Sundance Film Festival, “The Linguists” is a fascinating and compelling look at language extinction and documentation. It follows two linguists, Greg Anderson of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, and Dr. K David Harrison of Swarthmore College as they travel from the Andes Mountains in South America to villages in Siberia, and from English-Hindi boarding schools in Orissa, India, to an American Indian reservation in Arizona.

The film addresses such issues as the spread of major global languages and how they contribute to language extinction, political and social reasons that some languages have been repressed, and reasons that language revitalization and language documentation are important.

In addition to being an anthropologist, Harrison is a National Geographic Fellow and a co-director of the Society’s Enduring Voices Project which documents endangered languages and cultures around the world. He has done extensive fieldwork with indigenous communities from Siberia and Mongolia to Peru, Colombia, India, Nepal and Australia. His work has been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, USA Today and Science and on “The Colbert Report”. He received his doctorate from Yale University and is currently an associate professor at Swarthmore College near Philadelphia.

ImageAnthony Degio (left) listens to playback of a Koro language story, with K. David Harrison, Takpa Yame and Greg Anderson. Photo by Jeremy Fahringer

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.

Day 1: Smithsonian Folklife Festival

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Photo by @TheNationalMall

Today, the National Mall in Washington D.C. went from open field to bustling international village as the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival opened to the public.

One of the three major themes this year is “One World, Many Voices,” put on in partnership with the Enduring Voices Project, our collaborative project with National Geographic. Representatives of some of the world’s most endangered languages are gathering in the U.S. capitol for ten days of cultural celebration and dialogue.

K. David Harrison, our Director of Research and one of the curators of the festival, just did a great interview with Nat Geo NewsWatch about the festival! Check it out right here.

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Learn and Preserve Tuvan

Half of the world’s languages are facing extinction. In an effort to preserve Tuvan, Mango Languages developed an introductory course in partnership with our Director of Research, Dr. K. David Harrison, a leading specialist in the study of endangered languages.

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Become an advocate for language preservation. Create a profile on Mango Languages to gain access to the Tuvan course and share it with your campus or community!

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!