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Re: [Multilingual_Literacy] Fw: Lost in translation

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  • Elsa Auerbach
    There is a website which addresses these issues: http://www.terralingua.org/ Elsa Auerbach
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 11, 2004
      There is a website which addresses these issues: http://www.terralingua.org/

      Elsa Auerbach
      On 3/10/04 4:59 PM, "Don Osborn" <dzo@...> wrote:

      > This item on the manifold changes in the world's linguistic landscape raises
      > the issue of what the implications for literacy and education are.
      >
      > First there are groups working on preserving indigenous tongues through
      > education and use of writing where this may not have been traditional.
      > (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 environment. (Both
      > for the languages they speak but more than that, for their presumably
      > enhanced capacity to learn language as necessary.)
      >
      > Don Osborn
      > Bisharat.net
      >
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: "phil cash cash" <cashcash@...>
      > To: <ILAT@...>
      > Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 4:01 PM
      > Subject: Lost in translation (fwd)
      >
      >
      > Lost in translation
      >
      > By Leigh Dayton
      > 11mar04
      > http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,8928176%5E28737,
      > 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 Jesus is
      > dwindling into insignificance.
      >
      > Aramaic, the 2500-year-old tongue of the Assyrians, Babylonians,
      > Persians, Egyptians and Palestinians, is used as one of the languages
      > in Gibson's film, yet today it is spoken in only three Syrian villages.
      > Its probable fate as a spoken language? Extinction, say concerned
      > linguists.
      >
      > It's all part of a language crisis heralding the emergence of a new
      > linguistic world order, according to scholar David Graddol of Britain's
      > 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 the only
      > 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 destiny".
      > The number of people born into English-speaking communities is falling
      > when compared with those born to parents whose native language is
      > Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic and Hindi or Urdu, which many linguists
      > class as a single language.
      >
      > While English will power on as the language of science and politics,
      > Graddol spots a business trend which may unsettle monolingual English
      > speakers. "Employers in parts of Asia are already looking beyond
      > English," he argues. "In the next decade, the new must-learn language
      > is likely to be Mandarin."
      >
      > Graddol is not the only expert flagging enormous changes in what they
      > call the world's language system, one that has evolved over centuries.
      > David Harrison, a linguist at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania,
      > estimates that as we speak -- literally -- we do so in between 6000 and
      > 7000 languages worldwide, but not for long.
      >
      > "Linguistic diversity is undergoing a precipitous and unprecedented
      > 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 entirely
      > preposterous prediction, that fully one half of extant human languages
      > might well vanish in the course of this century."
      >
      > Graddol, a linguist, went further last month in the journal Science.
      >
      > "We may now be losing a language every day," he wrote, adding that 90
      > 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 to
      > fade into nothingness. They predict that dubious honour will go to even
      > more obscure tongues such as Middle Chulym, a language Harrison
      > "discovered" last year in remote central Siberia. Out of a community of
      > 426 people, he says only 35 speak it fluently. When those elders die,
      > so too will Middle Chulym.
      >
      > Clearly, indigenous languages worldwide are at greatest risk of serious
      > 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 indigenous
      > languages were spoken in 1788. Today, possibly one-third of those
      > first-contact languages are gone. Of those remaining, only about 20
      > 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 Strait
      > Islander Languages, a national body advising the Aboriginal and Torres
      > Strait Islander Commission. Although she's studying it, Baisden doesn't
      > yet speak her own ancestral tongue, Yugambeh. There are only a handful
      > of people who do, she claims.
      >
      > Still, it's not all gloom and doom for so-called minority languages.
      > Speakers of such languages and advocates such as Baisden are fighting
      > back with some success. Hebrew was brought back from near extinction.
      > In the US, Mohawk has undergone a revival, and ever more New Zealand
      > kindergarteners are learning Maori.
      >
      > In Australia, Baisden claims that growing numbers of Aboriginal
      > communities are working with elders, applied linguists and groups such
      > as FATSIL and ATSIC to shore up endangered languages.
      >
      > They're developing dictionaries, web-based resources and other learning
      > materials, as well as pushing for native language instruction.
      >
      > It's all part of an international trend to bolster ancient rural and
      > indigenous languages, or at least to document them before they vanish.
      > For native speakers, this is a matter of urgency. Language epitomises
      > group identity and carries important cultural meanings, ones they hope
      > to pass on to the next generation.
      >
      > Moreover, Harrison points out that collectively the world's languages
      > embody the diverse possibilities of human speech. They embody
      > underlying mental structures that both shape and are shaped by the way
      > different peoples speak of their world, for instance number systems,
      > grammatical structures and ways of classifying kinship or natural
      > events.
      >
      > "Each language that vanishes without being documented leaves an enormous
      > gap in our understanding of some of the many complex structures the
      > human mind is capable of producing," Harrison says.
      >
      > University of Sydney linguistics specialist Jane Simpson, who is working
      > to save threatened languages, agrees.
      >
      > "What does it matter if you lose a particular frog species or if you
      > lose Michelangelo's David," she says.
      >
      > "Think of languages as works of human creativity."
      >
      > Simpson has teamed up with colleagues at the University of Melbourne and
      > the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
      > Studies in Canberra. Along with four doctoral students, the group is
      > following pre-school children in three Aboriginal communities in the
      > Kimberley and Northern Territory.
      >
      > Over the four-year project the team hopes to learn how the youngsters
      > manage the different languages they hear, from their native language to
      > varieties of English. They want to know how the children shift between
      > 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 kind of
      > teaching strategies to use," she says.
      >
      > But Simpson and company are particularly interested in the dynamics of
      > hybrid languages known as creoles. Such languages develop spontaneously
      > when -- usually -- children listen to a pidgin language cobbled
      > together as a lingua franca by adults who speak different languages.
      >
      > "The Lajamanu and Kalkaringi kids are either acquiring a weird variety
      > of a local creole, called Kriol, or they are developing a new mixed
      > language based on Kriol," says Simpson, who explains that children
      > everywhere are master language builders. Indeed, youngsters are on the
      > job around the globe, especially in cities where languages mingle and
      > change rapidly. The question is, are they creating enough new languages
      > to counter the startling rate of language extinction?
      >
      > Yes, no, maybe, replies Yale University linguist Laurence Horn. Speaking
      > at the AAAS meeting, he suggested the answer may well be a matter of
      > definitions. "What counts as a language, a mere dialect or jargon?" he
      > asked in rhetorical mode.
      >
      > According to Horn, non-linguist factors affect the answer. Power, money,
      > literary tradition, the nature of a writing system and even whether or
      > not a community needs a new language are all involved in separating
      > true languages from linguistic wannabes such as Esperanto, which
      > lingers in the conversational backwaters.
      >
      > Although Esperanto was devised deliberately by Ludwig Zamenhof, Eubonics
      > is a version of English popularised by young African Americans. Is it
      > non-standard English, a dialect, a language, or a street vernacular?
      > Some linguists agree with the Oakland, California's 1997 school board
      > decree that Eubonics is "a genetically-based language", while others
      > disagree vehemently.
      >
      > And what about Scots, spoken in the film Trainspotting, the Slinglish of
      > Singapore, the Japlish of Japan or any of the other Englishes of the
      > 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 if one
      > of Graddol's predictions comes true. He argues that although a handful
      > of languages will dominate, people will continue speaking other tongues
      > at home.
      >
      > The bilingual - even multilingual - world of tomorrow may well resemble
      > the one in which Jesus walked. After all, like his contemporaries, he
      > probably spoke Greek, Aramaic and maybe even a touch of Latin.
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
    • Don Osborn
      Thanks, Elsa. Terralingua was indeed one of the inspirations for Bisharat. The area of language preservation, and research on the importance of linguistic
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 14, 2004
        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
        http://www.quicktopic.com/21/H/tVDdWCiBY7MgJ (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
        a goal.

        Don Osborn
        Bisharat.net

        --- In Multilingual_Literacy@yahoogroups.com, Elsa Auerbach
        <elsa.auerbach@u...> wrote:
        > 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
        landscape raises
        > > the issue of what the implications for literacy and education are.
        > >
        > > First there are groups working on preserving indigenous tongues
        through
        > > education and use of writing where this may not have been
        traditional.
        > > (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
        environment. (Both
        > > for the languages they speak but more than that, for their
        presumably
        > > enhanced capacity to learn language as necessary.)
        > >
        > > 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
        > >
        http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,8928176%
        5E28737,
        > > 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
        Jesus is
        > > dwindling into insignificance.
        > >
        > > Aramaic, the 2500-year-old tongue of the Assyrians, Babylonians,
        > > Persians, Egyptians and Palestinians, is used as one of the
        languages
        > > in Gibson's film, yet today it is spoken in only three Syrian
        villages.
        > > Its probable fate as a spoken language? Extinction, say concerned
        > > linguists.
        > >
        > > It's all part of a language crisis heralding the emergence of a
        new
        > > linguistic world order, according to scholar David Graddol of
        Britain's
        > > 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
        the only
        > > 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
        destiny".
        > > The number of people born into English-speaking communities is
        falling
        > > when compared with those born to parents whose native language is
        > > Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic and Hindi or Urdu, which many
        linguists
        > > class as a single language.
        > >
        > > While English will power on as the language of science and
        politics,
        > > Graddol spots a business trend which may unsettle monolingual
        English
        > > speakers. "Employers in parts of Asia are already looking beyond
        > > English," he argues. "In the next decade, the new must-learn
        language
        > > is likely to be Mandarin."
        > >
        > > Graddol is not the only expert flagging enormous changes in what
        they
        > > call the world's language system, one that has evolved over
        centuries.
        > > David Harrison, a linguist at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania,
        > > estimates that as we speak -- literally -- we do so in between
        6000 and
        > > 7000 languages worldwide, but not for long.
        > >
        > > "Linguistic diversity is undergoing a precipitous and
        unprecedented
        > > 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
        entirely
        > > preposterous prediction, that fully one half of extant human
        languages
        > > might well vanish in the course of this century."
        > >
        > > Graddol, a linguist, went further last month in the journal
        Science.
        > >
        > > "We may now be losing a language every day," he wrote, adding
        that 90
        > > 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
        to
        > > fade into nothingness. They predict that dubious honour will go
        to even
        > > more obscure tongues such as Middle Chulym, a language Harrison
        > > "discovered" last year in remote central Siberia. Out of a
        community of
        > > 426 people, he says only 35 speak it fluently. When those elders
        die,
        > > so too will Middle Chulym.
        > >
        > > Clearly, indigenous languages worldwide are at greatest risk of
        serious
        > > 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
        indigenous
        > > languages were spoken in 1788. Today, possibly one-third of those
        > > first-contact languages are gone. Of those remaining, only about
        20
        > > 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
        Strait
        > > Islander Languages, a national body advising the Aboriginal and
        Torres
        > > Strait Islander Commission. Although she's studying it, Baisden
        doesn't
        > > yet speak her own ancestral tongue, Yugambeh. There are only a
        handful
        > > of people who do, she claims.
        > >
        > > Still, it's not all gloom and doom for so-called minority
        languages.
        > > Speakers of such languages and advocates such as Baisden are
        fighting
        > > back with some success. Hebrew was brought back from near
        extinction.
        > > In the US, Mohawk has undergone a revival, and ever more New
        Zealand
        > > kindergarteners are learning Maori.
        > >
        > > In Australia, Baisden claims that growing numbers of Aboriginal
        > > communities are working with elders, applied linguists and groups
        such
        > > as FATSIL and ATSIC to shore up endangered languages.
        > >
        > > They're developing dictionaries, web-based resources and other
        learning
        > > materials, as well as pushing for native language instruction.
        > >
        > > It's all part of an international trend to bolster ancient rural
        and
        > > indigenous languages, or at least to document them before they
        vanish.
        > > For native speakers, this is a matter of urgency. Language
        epitomises
        > > group identity and carries important cultural meanings, ones they
        hope
        > > to pass on to the next generation.
        > >
        > > Moreover, Harrison points out that collectively the world's
        languages
        > > embody the diverse possibilities of human speech. They embody
        > > underlying mental structures that both shape and are shaped by
        the way
        > > different peoples speak of their world, for instance number
        systems,
        > > grammatical structures and ways of classifying kinship or natural
        > > events.
        > >
        > > "Each language that vanishes without being documented leaves an
        enormous
        > > gap in our understanding of some of the many complex structures
        the
        > > human mind is capable of producing," Harrison says.
        > >
        > > University of Sydney linguistics specialist Jane Simpson, who is
        working
        > > to save threatened languages, agrees.
        > >
        > > "What does it matter if you lose a particular frog species or if
        you
        > > lose Michelangelo's David," she says.
        > >
        > > "Think of languages as works of human creativity."
        > >
        > > Simpson has teamed up with colleagues at the University of
        Melbourne and
        > > the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
        > > Studies in Canberra. Along with four doctoral students, the group
        is
        > > following pre-school children in three Aboriginal communities in
        the
        > > Kimberley and Northern Territory.
        > >
        > > Over the four-year project the team hopes to learn how the
        youngsters
        > > manage the different languages they hear, from their native
        language to
        > > varieties of English. They want to know how the children shift
        between
        > > 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
        kind of
        > > teaching strategies to use," she says.
        > >
        > > But Simpson and company are particularly interested in the
        dynamics of
        > > hybrid languages known as creoles. Such languages develop
        spontaneously
        > > when -- usually -- children listen to a pidgin language cobbled
        > > together as a lingua franca by adults who speak different
        languages.
        > >
        > > "The Lajamanu and Kalkaringi kids are either acquiring a weird
        variety
        > > of a local creole, called Kriol, or they are developing a new
        mixed
        > > language based on Kriol," says Simpson, who explains that children
        > > everywhere are master language builders. Indeed, youngsters are
        on the
        > > job around the globe, especially in cities where languages mingle
        and
        > > change rapidly. The question is, are they creating enough new
        languages
        > > to counter the startling rate of language extinction?
        > >
        > > Yes, no, maybe, replies Yale University linguist Laurence Horn.
        Speaking
        > > at the AAAS meeting, he suggested the answer may well be a matter
        of
        > > definitions. "What counts as a language, a mere dialect or
        jargon?" he
        > > asked in rhetorical mode.
        > >
        > > According to Horn, non-linguist factors affect the answer. Power,
        money,
        > > literary tradition, the nature of a writing system and even
        whether or
        > > not a community needs a new language are all involved in
        separating
        > > true languages from linguistic wannabes such as Esperanto, which
        > > lingers in the conversational backwaters.
        > >
        > > Although Esperanto was devised deliberately by Ludwig Zamenhof,
        Eubonics
        > > is a version of English popularised by young African Americans.
        Is it
        > > non-standard English, a dialect, a language, or a street
        vernacular?
        > > Some linguists agree with the Oakland, California's 1997 school
        board
        > > decree that Eubonics is "a genetically-based language", while
        others
        > > disagree vehemently.
        > >
        > > And what about Scots, spoken in the film Trainspotting, the
        Slinglish of
        > > Singapore, the Japlish of Japan or any of the other Englishes of
        the
        > > 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
        if one
        > > of Graddol's predictions comes true. He argues that although a
        handful
        > > of languages will dominate, people will continue speaking other
        tongues
        > > at home.
        > >
        > > The bilingual - even multilingual - world of tomorrow may well
        resemble
        > > the one in which Jesus walked. After all, like his
        contemporaries, he
        > > probably spoke Greek, Aramaic and maybe even a touch of Latin.
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > > Yahoo! Groups Links
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
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