Vanishing Voices

Hi Everyone,

What languages do you speak? We opened up today’s conversation with this question, and as a group we speak 11 different languages. We discussed what is language, what are it’s forms, and what is it used for. According to the dictionary language is the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other. A linguist is someone who studies, speaks, and teaches languages.

How does language identify us? Does it make us who we are? Related imageWe talked about important aspects of language like culture, tradition, history, psychology, and unique characteristics each language has – different intonations, fluencies, vocabulary and rules.


We talked about world languages, how many are there? What languages are spoken in what countries? What languages are studied the most? Here are some graphs to answer these questions.Image result for world language 7 maps and graphics






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Today’s topic was vanishing voices or endangered and dying languages. These languages are no longer being spoken for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons are that speakers of the languages are dying and it is not being handed down to younger generations. Certain populations are in danger due to natural disasters, war and genocide. Globalization and technology have led to a use of fewer languages to facilitate communication around the world. Here is a world map of endangered languages:Image result for world language 7 maps and graphicsSo, what happens when a language dies or goes extinct? We discussed the loss of history, culture and traditions. Take a look at this video which discusses this question: 

The video talked about the significance of preserving languages, and that language is more than communication, it is a way of thinking.  

There are lots of projects and activities going on to protect and preserve these dying languages and technology has helped a lot in this area. Listen to this radio interview  on Digital Technology and Dying Languages from NPR. After listening we talked about how relevant are these languages in the modern world? Some of them don’t have the vocabulary to communicate in today’s world.

But, still, there is a passion to save these languages and to keep them alive, even if it’s just for a small group of native speakers. One woman, Marie Wilcox, showed her devotion to keeping her Native American language, Wukchumni, alive by writing a 156 page dictionary of the language. It took Marie 7 years to write the dictionary, but with the help of her daughter and grandson, she hopes to pass down Wukchumni. Take a look at Marie’s journey in writing the Wukchumni dictionary: 

After watching it was easy to understand Marie’s passion and devotion to the dictionary, and the roles that her daughter and grandson played in it. For Marie it became a life project, but, the future is uncertain if no one continues to speak Wukchumni.

Lastly we talked about the possibility of everyone speaking one universal language and some of the advantages and disadvantages.Related image Most of us agreed that our native languages are what we identify with, but, English provides a way to communicate globally in today’s modern world.




Words of the day

get the hang of (idiom) : {informal} to learn the skills that are needed to do something                                                                                                                                 After a few weeks of practice, she was finally getting the hang of driving.

peachy (adjective) : like a peach : {informal} very good : fine or excellent                      For the first few years of their marriage, everything was peachy. But lately they seem to be drifting apart.                                                                                                               

obstacle (noun) : something that makes it difficult to do something                                  They had to overcome a lot of obstacles before they could adopt a child.

Remember to relax and practice!

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