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The Language Box…or how do we prevent a tragedy caused by the death of half of the existing languages? By: Marija Grujovska
The problem There are around 6000 languages spoken today. If nothing is done, half of those languages will disappear by the end of the century. With a language dying every two weeks, the world today is facing a LANGUAGE EXTINCTION ON A MASSIVE SCALE.
Why should we care? “Languages are not simply bodies of vocabulary or sets of grammatical rules, but "old growth forests of the mind“, for the many and unique cultures of the world reflect different ways of being, thinking, and knowing.” – Wade Davis ("On endangered cultures“ – TED Talks) Losing the wide spectrum of languages, we lose the world’s creative force on which depend the development and existence of humanity. Creative Linguistic Intellectual problem diversity diversity solving More importantly, when a language dies, a whole culture goes to the grave. Language Culture death death A death of a language represents both a scientific and a cultural tragedy
The struggle There are many organizations aroundGlobalization the world that have made a greatModernization effort to reduce the rate of language extinction. UNESCO, Committee of Endangered Languages and TheirAssimilation Preservation (CELP) and Theacculturation Endangered Language Fund are just some of them… Over the years they have been documenting and revitalizing the endangered languages, encouraging Language the indigenous people to bilingualism death and raising awareness among the endangered communities and worldwide.
The idea The Language Box = a huge internet database consisting written, audio or video data of all the world’s endangered and already extinct languages. Written data The Audio data language box Video data
How does it work? Linguists from all around the world collect written (including some translations, notes etc.), audio or video records, depending on the conditions. All the data is stored in The Language Box and is available on the internet. Audio and video Written material records The Language Box
Is it effective? • Selected data could be used by the media and made into campaigns, documentaries, short movies etc. As • It would be available for everyone prevention to see and raise awareness about the importance and value of language diversityPurpose of TheLanguage Box • All collected material would be available to all the scientists in the As a world and be used for further reaserch scientific • The data would help science in the tool field of linguistics, anthropology, ethnology, psychology, computer engineering etc.
Is it innovative? While I was doing my research on existing similar ideas, I found Ethnologue – an excellent encyclopedic reference work, cataloging all of the world’s 6,909 known living languages. http://www.ethnologue.com/ However, there are several crucial differences between Ethnologue and The Language Box. The Language Ethnologue Box would provide a list of provides a list of all endangered and existing languages already extinct languages would provide the provides a huge actual, raw material bibliography of data that would be free and about and connected available for everyone to world languages to use and explore
Goals and targets To collect the scattered data in one place and To make the world prevent from losing them,understand the meaning serve as a tool and and importance of reference for scientists all linguistic diversity and over the world and help language itself develop certain sciences concerning language. Goals and targets of The Language Box
Potential impact Ultimately, The Language Box would help prevent a cultural and scientific tragedy. It would help the world function in its own, beautiful, diverse way. It would help preserve the linguistic and cultural diversity, representing a never-ending well of different ways to be human, all sorts of knowledge and philosophy. It would make the world a place where ideas are born and searched in the differences. These ideas would later contribute to the well-being of all the people on the planet. “The world deserves to exist in a diverse way. We can find a way to live in a multicultural, pluralistic world, where all the wisdom of all the peoples can contribute to our collective well-being” – Wade Davis ("On endangered cultures“ – TED Talks)