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It may be what some linguists do, Kjell, but nowhere near enough of them, as
is evidenced by the fact that ONE THIRD of the worlds languages have never
been recorded.  That means: no grammars, no transcriptions, NOTHING.  And if
they disappeared tomorrow that is exactly what we would know about them:
NOTHING.

In fact THERE ARE MORE ENDANGERED LANGUAGES THAN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF
ANIMAL.  So if the biologists (led by the wonderful David Attenborough) can
undertake such an ambitious project as ARKive, WHY CANT THE LINGUISTS DO THE
SAME FOR LANGUAGES?

The first problem is that there are no more David Attenboroughs in the
linguistics world.  No more Edward Sapirs prepared to go out and use their
training to record languages in their natural setting.  Because they are all
quarrelling over the most arcane technical details of English syntax and
engaged in a futile search for the innate pot of gold at the end of the
rainbow.

We could see a CATASTROPHIC COLLAPSE in language diversity in my lifetime.
It is time for linguists to put aside their generative grammars and go out
and do something future generations will actually thank them for.

WHAT ARE LINGUISTS GOING TO SAY WHEN FUTURE GENERATIONS ASK THEM WHERE ARE
THE RECORDS OF THE THOUSANDS OF LOST LANGUAGES?

It is time for the language ARKive, time to start gathering that
information, before it is too late.  WILL THE POST-WAR LINGUISTS RISE TO THE
CHALLENGE?  Or simply hide behind their tree diagrams?

THEY ARE FIDDLING WHILE ROME BURNS!

Kordiale, James Chandler
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http://www.geocities.com/idojc - IALs index
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There is no political solution
To our troubled evolution
Have no faith in constitution
There is no bloody revolution
- Sting, Spirits in the Material World





>From: Kjell Rehnstrom <[log in to unmask]>
>Reply-To: International Auxiliary Languages <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: ARKive
>Date: Wed, 28 May 2003 18:59:20 +0200
>
>James Chandler wrote:
>
>>A new project was launched today to collect and preserve information on
>>every species of animal - including film footage, sound clips and
>>pictures -
>>and put it all on the net.  It is called ARKive because it is a sort
>>of 21st
>>century version of Noahs Ark:
>>
>>http://www.arkive.org
>>
>>And watching the piece on this on BBC TV this morning I thought to myself,
>>Why cant the same thing be done for languages?  Sound recordings, speech
>>transcriptions, grammars could all be preserved on the internet.
>>
>>Of course, such an idea presupposes that linguists would be prepared
>>to take
>>a break from their tree diagrams and go out and actually record languages,
>>especially endangered ones, being spoken in their natural setting.  Do
>>something future generations will actually thank them for.  Otherwise
>>there
>>will be nothing to preserve...
>
>Isn't that what many linguists do? I for one heard about work being done
>to preserve "Vepsian" at least.
>
>Kjell R

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