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3007One thing humanity loses when a language is lost: taxonomies!

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  • DuCharme, Bob
    Apr 3, 2009
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      I just listened to the podcast of Daniel Everett's talk on "Endangered Languages, Lost Knowledge and the Future," in which he talks about living with certain Amazonian tribes and the implications of a spoken language dying away. (According to him, there are 7,000 spoken languages in the world, and several thousand are endangered.) Among the kinds of knowledge that are lost with each language, he singles out taxonomies, which I found interesting. Not formal taxonomies, obviously, but as one example the way a given language describes the relationships among local animals can tell us a lot about those animals.
      Bob DuCharme

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