Google Launches Website to Protect Endangered Languages

August 5, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. alliance (n.) 
[uh-lahy-uhns] – a cooperation, or a group united by similar goals
Example: The alliance of scholars and computer technicians aimed to study rare languages.

2. linguist (n.) [ling-gwist] – a person who studies language
Example: The linguist made a survey about the languages spoken in Africa.

3. preserve (v.) [pri-zurv– to save or maintain something in order for it to last longer
Example:  Asian countries try to preserve local traditions while adopting Western customs.

4. implore (v.) [im-plawr, -plohr– to ask someone for something in a serious or emotional way
Example: Elder people implore the youth to learn their local dialects.

5. arm (n.) [ahrm] – a section of an organization or company
Example: The legislative arm of the government writes laws.

Read the text below.

Experts say that about 3,000 of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world today may be forgotten in a hundred years. In order to prevent this loss, Google has started the Endangered Languages website.

With the help of an alliance of scholars and linguists, the website allows people from all over the world to share and find data about endangered languages.  Such languages are in danger of disappearing completely because the few people who still use or know them may soon die out.

Clara Rivera Rodriguez and Jason Rissman, leaders of the project, stress the important role of technology in preserving languages. They say high-quality recordings of elders, who are usually the last fluent speakers of a certain language, can be created and shared through social media to aid language study and awareness.

Users simply have to create an account on the Endangered Languages website so they can upload text documents, audio, or video material of unique languages. The users can also make their profiles and give feedback on the site.

Rodriguez and Rissman implore people to share the website with their respective communities. According to the two project managers, documenting endangered languages can promote acceptance and learning of different cultures. It can also give the youth the power to protect the legacy of earlier generations.

A language institute in Eastern Michigan University will be in charge of the website, while, Google’s charitable arm, will continue supporting the project.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Why do you think some languages become lost while other languages are preserved?
·         What are the bad outcomes of losing a language forever?

Discussion B

·         Do you think endangered languages are worth saving? Why or why not?
·         Do you hope that your local language or dialect will still be used hundreds of years from now? Please explain your answer.

August 5, 2012