Thanks, Elsa. Terralingua was indeed one of the inspirations for
Bisharat. The area of language preservation, and research on the
importance of linguistic diversity, is important (essential) but
limited in my opinion unless it links with exploration of what to do
about it. This is not new, but the implications re focusing at
preservation & documentation of the languages on the edge vs. the
wider tasks of facilitating revitalization of all languages need may
not be widely appreciated. This issue was explored briefly in a few
messages on a temporary board entitled "Beyond language documentation
(what roles for researchers & activists?)" at
(it was a spin-off of a
discussion on the Code-switching group).
Consideration of literacy in multilingual societies is in part
another perspective on this, although it obviously includes a lot of
situations where multiliteracy does not involve less widely spoken or
endangered languages. Hopefully, though, research and techniques
having to do with reading education and literacy training in any
context can be applied to situations where language revitalization is
--- In Multilingual_Literacy@yahoogroups.com
, Elsa Auerbach
> There is a website which addresses these issues: http://www.terralingua.org/
> Elsa Auerbach
> On 3/10/04 4:59 PM, "Don Osborn" <dzo@b...> wrote:
> > This item on the manifold changes in the world's linguistic
> > the issue of what the implications for literacy and education are.
> > First there are groups working on preserving indigenous tongues
> > education and use of writing where this may not have been
> > (Meaning multi/bilingual strategies of one sort or another.)
> > Second, it would seem that young people with multi/bilingual
skills would be
> > at an advantage to cope in such a changing and changeable
> > for the languages they speak but more than that, for their
> > enhanced capacity to learn language as necessary.)http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,8928176%
> > Don Osborn
> > Bisharat.net
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "phil cash cash" <cashcash@E...>
> > To: <ILAT@L...>
> > Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 4:01 PM
> > Subject: Lost in translation (fwd)
> > Lost in translation
> > By Leigh Dayton
> > 11mar04
> > 00.html
> > IT'S a modern parable. While the box office take from Mel Gibson's
> > controversial film The Passion of the Christ skyrockets into the
> > multi-millions, the number of people speaking the language of
> > dwindling into insignificance.
> > Aramaic, the 2500-year-old tongue of the Assyrians, Babylonians,
> > Persians, Egyptians and Palestinians, is used as one of the
> > in Gibson's film, yet today it is spoken in only three Syrian
> > Its probable fate as a spoken language? Extinction, say concerned
> > linguists.
> > It's all part of a language crisis heralding the emergence of a
> > linguistic world order, according to scholar David Graddol of
> > aptly named The English Company.
> > "We will experience some decades of rapid and perhaps disorienting
> > change," he predicts ominously. In other words, Aramaic is not
> > language facing an uncertain future.
> > Surprisingly, as Graddol says, English is sliding down the "league
> > table" of dominant languages.
> > Why? To borrow from Treasurer Peter Costello, "demography is
> > The number of people born into English-speaking communities is
> > when compared with those born to parents whose native language is
> > Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic and Hindi or Urdu, which many
> > class as a single language.
> > While English will power on as the language of science and
> > Graddol spots a business trend which may unsettle monolingual
> > speakers. "Employers in parts of Asia are already looking beyond
> > English," he argues. "In the next decade, the new must-learn
> > is likely to be Mandarin."
> > Graddol is not the only expert flagging enormous changes in what
> > call the world's language system, one that has evolved over
> > David Harrison, a linguist at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania,
> > estimates that as we speak -- literally -- we do so in between
> > 7000 languages worldwide, but not for long.
> > "Linguistic diversity is undergoing a precipitous and
> > decline," he said at the recent American Association for the
> > Advancement of Science meeting in Seattle.
> > "This state of affairs has given rise to the dire, but not
> > preposterous prediction, that fully one half of extant human
> > might well vanish in the course of this century."
> > Graddol, a linguist, went further last month in the journal
> > "We may now be losing a language every day," he wrote, adding
> > per cent of all languages will perish this century.
> > While Aramaic is the language of concern now, authorities such as
> > Harrison and Graddol claim it is unlikely to be the next language
> > fade into nothingness. They predict that dubious honour will go
> > more obscure tongues such as Middle Chulym, a language Harrison
> > "discovered" last year in remote central Siberia. Out of a
> > 426 people, he says only 35 speak it fluently. When those elders
> > so too will Middle Chulym.
> > Clearly, indigenous languages worldwide are at greatest risk of
> > decline or extinction. After all, speakers experience the combined
> > impact of declining populations, technological advances and often
> > overwhelming economic and cultural pressure to join the global
> > community. Case in point: Australia's Aboriginal languages.
> > The statistics are rubbery, yet they suggest that roughly 250
> > languages were spoken in 1788. Today, possibly one-third of those
> > first-contact languages are gone. Of those remaining, only about
> > have any hope of surviving.
> > "It's undeniable that we're losing speakers," notes Faith Baisden,
> > projects manager with the Federation of Aboriginal and Torres
> > Islander Languages, a national body advising the Aboriginal and
> > Strait Islander Commission. Although she's studying it, Baisden
> > yet speak her own ancestral tongue, Yugambeh. There are only a
> > of people who do, she claims.
> > Still, it's not all gloom and doom for so-called minority
> > Speakers of such languages and advocates such as Baisden are
> > back with some success. Hebrew was brought back from near
> > In the US, Mohawk has undergone a revival, and ever more New
> > kindergarteners are learning Maori.
> > In Australia, Baisden claims that growing numbers of Aboriginal
> > communities are working with elders, applied linguists and groups
> > as FATSIL and ATSIC to shore up endangered languages.
> > They're developing dictionaries, web-based resources and other
> > materials, as well as pushing for native language instruction.
> > It's all part of an international trend to bolster ancient rural
> > indigenous languages, or at least to document them before they
> > For native speakers, this is a matter of urgency. Language
> > group identity and carries important cultural meanings, ones they
> > to pass on to the next generation.
> > Moreover, Harrison points out that collectively the world's
> > embody the diverse possibilities of human speech. They embody
> > underlying mental structures that both shape and are shaped by
> > different peoples speak of their world, for instance number
> > grammatical structures and ways of classifying kinship or natural
> > events.
> > "Each language that vanishes without being documented leaves an
> > gap in our understanding of some of the many complex structures
> > human mind is capable of producing," Harrison says.
> > University of Sydney linguistics specialist Jane Simpson, who is
> > to save threatened languages, agrees.
> > "What does it matter if you lose a particular frog species or if
> > lose Michelangelo's David," she says.
> > "Think of languages as works of human creativity."
> > Simpson has teamed up with colleagues at the University of
> > the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
> > Studies in Canberra. Along with four doctoral students, the group
> > following pre-school children in three Aboriginal communities in
> > Kimberley and Northern Territory.
> > Over the four-year project the team hopes to learn how the
> > manage the different languages they hear, from their native
> > varieties of English. They want to know how the children shift
> > languages with such ease and hope to find out if the linguistic
> > flip-flops affect language learning and use.
> > "There are implications for how kids learn at school and what
> > teaching strategies to use," she says.
> > But Simpson and company are particularly interested in the
> > hybrid languages known as creoles. Such languages develop
> > when -- usually -- children listen to a pidgin language cobbled
> > together as a lingua franca by adults who speak different
> > "The Lajamanu and Kalkaringi kids are either acquiring a weird
> > of a local creole, called Kriol, or they are developing a new
> > language based on Kriol," says Simpson, who explains that children
> > everywhere are master language builders. Indeed, youngsters are
> > job around the globe, especially in cities where languages mingle
> > change rapidly. The question is, are they creating enough new
> > to counter the startling rate of language extinction?
> > Yes, no, maybe, replies Yale University linguist Laurence Horn.
> > at the AAAS meeting, he suggested the answer may well be a matter
> > definitions. "What counts as a language, a mere dialect or
> > asked in rhetorical mode.
> > According to Horn, non-linguist factors affect the answer. Power,
> > literary tradition, the nature of a writing system and even
> > not a community needs a new language are all involved in
> > true languages from linguistic wannabes such as Esperanto, which
> > lingers in the conversational backwaters.
> > Although Esperanto was devised deliberately by Ludwig Zamenhof,
> > is a version of English popularised by young African Americans.
> > non-standard English, a dialect, a language, or a street
> > Some linguists agree with the Oakland, California's 1997 school
> > decree that Eubonics is "a genetically-based language", while
> > disagree vehemently.
> > And what about Scots, spoken in the film Trainspotting, the
> > Singapore, the Japlish of Japan or any of the other Englishes of
> > world? Debates rage as to whether they're shiny new languages or
> > jumped-up dialects destined for the linguistic scrap heap.
> > At the broadest level, the definitional debates may be irrelevant
> > of Graddol's predictions comes true. He argues that although a
> > of languages will dominate, people will continue speaking other
> > at home.
> > The bilingual - even multilingual - world of tomorrow may well
> > the one in which Jesus walked. After all, like his
> > probably spoke Greek, Aramaic and maybe even a touch of Latin.
> > Yahoo! Groups Links