Did you ever stop to think about the many different languages and dialects in the world? Do you know how many there are? How about how many there used to be? And, what’s happening to the languages that currently exist?
This video addresses the subject of endangered languages. Currently, there are over 6,000 different languages spoken all over the world. Out of those 6,000 languages, however, 10% are spoken by fewer than 100 people. Many researchers are concerned that the loss of these native languages is a loss of culture and history.
This video was shot during the 2012 AAAS Annual Meeting in Vancouver. It features K. David Harrison, who discusses how some cultures are using technology to help preserve their language. He claims that “really savvy language communities are using technology to sustain themselves, to expand their reach...to survive.”
This video resource can be used to help open a discussion with students about the many different languages in the world and how some of them are in danger of becoming extinct. As mentioned in the description, there are currently about 6,000 different languages spoken all over the world. Only about 4% of those languages, though, are spoken by the majority of the world’s population. You could encourage students to discuss the importance of language for a group’s culture and history as well as its collective knowledge. What could we stand to lose if a particular language is lost?
It also can be used to discuss the positive role that technology can play in our lives. As you discuss how technology is being used in this case to help preserve dying languages, you could encourage students to think about the other ways in which technology helps human beings. You also could encourage students to think about the negative effects of some technologies.
Environment, Technology, and Culture of the Chumash People
Risks and Benefits
9-12 | Website
6-12 | Audio