Endangered Languages

Published 23rd August 2011
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Endangered Languages

Did you know that there are between 6,000 and 7,000 languages currently in use? And did you know that it is expected that half of them will disappear in the near future? Endangered languages is something happening to so many dialects and languages of the world. This is quite a scary thing to think about.

However, the good news is that there is a programme aimed at fighting this. It is called DEL – Documenting Endangered Languages. It is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation. The application for grants expires on the 20th September. You still have some time if you plan to apply for it!

Usually a language becomes endangered when parents are no longer teaching their children to speak it. Which means that the idiom is not being passed on to future generations. Also, a very low number of speakers, lack of use in education, and even perhaps younger generations’ reluctance to speak it, are all factors that may endanger a language.

What can be done to fight this phenomenon? Well, of course people cannot be forced to speak or learn a language. But it is possible to record and study an idiom. Hopefully, with programmes such as the DEL in place, we will be able to retain a grasp on the languages of the past. Even perhaps learn them and revive them!

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Lenguas en Peligro

¿Sabías que actualmente existen entre 6.000 y 7.000 en uso? ¿Y sabías que se prevee que la mitad de ellas desaparezcan en un futuro próximo? Es bastante escalofriante si lo piensas.

Sin embargo, las buenas noticias son que hay un programa creado para intentar evitar todo esto. Se trata del Programa de Documentación de Lenguas en Peligro (DEL – Documenting Endangered Languages) y está patrocinado por el ondo Nacional para las Humanidades (National Endowment for the Humanities), y el Fundación Nacional de Ciencias (National Science Foundation). El plazo de solicitud de becas está abierto hasta el 20 de septiembre, así que ¡aún tienes tiempo para presentarte!

Normalmente una lengua es considerada en peligro de extinción cuando los padres ya no la enseñan a sus hijos, lo que significa que ya no se transmite de generación en generación. Un número muy bajo de hablantes, un desuso en el ámbito de la educación, e incluso el hecho de que las generaciones más jóvenes dejen de practicarlo son factores que pueden poner en peligro la existencia de una lengua.

¿Qué podemos hacer para combatir este fenómeno? Bien, está claro que no podemos obligar a la gente a que hable o aprenda un idioma, pero sí es posible grabarlo y estudiarlo. Con suerte, con programas como DEL, seremos capaces de conservar algunos conocimientos de los idiomas del pasado, ¡y quizás incluso de aprenderlos y hacerlos resurgir!

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