Dying Languages

This is kind of sad. Lose a language and you lose so much.

“WASHINGTON – When every known speaker of the language Amurdag gets together, there’s still no one to talk to. Native Australian Charlie Mungulda is the only person alive known to speak that language, one of thousands around the world on the brink of extinction. From rural Australia to Siberia to Oklahoma, languages that embody the history and traditions of people are dying, researchers said Tuesday.

While there are an estimated 7,000 languages spoken around the world today, one of them dies out about every two weeks, according to linguistic experts struggling to save at least some of them.

Five hotspots where languages are most endangered were listed Tuesday in a briefing by the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages and the National Geographic Society.

In addition to northern Australia, eastern Siberia and Oklahoma and the U.S. Southwest, many native languages are endangered in South America — Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia — as well as the area including British Columbia, and the states of Washington and Oregon.

Losing languages means losing knowledge, says K. David Harrison, an assistant professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College.

“When we lose a language, we lose centuries of human thinking about time, seasons, sea creatures, reindeer, edible flowers, mathematics, landscapes, myths, music, the unknown and the everyday.”

As many as half of the current languages have never been written down, he estimated.”

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Vocabulary Words

I enjoy language and I enjoy learning new words. Here are some that are not used in every day conversation.

re·vanche (rə-vänch, -väNsh) pronunciation
n.

  1. The act of retaliating; revenge.
  2. A usually political policy, as of a nation or an ethnic group, intended to regain lost territory or standing.

[French, from Old French revancher, to revenge : re-, re- + vengier, vencher, to avenge; see revenge.]

revanchism re·vanchism (-vänchĭz-əm, -väNshĭz-) n.
revanchist re·vanchist adj. & n.
revanchistic re·vanch·istic adj.

Ri·so·ri·al
a.[L. ridere, risum, to laugh.]
Pertaining to, or producing, laughter; as, the risorial muscles.

pa·ron·y·mous (pə-rŏnə-məs) pronunciation
adj.

Allied by derivation from the same root; having the same stem; for example, beautiful and beauteous.

Ru·gate
a.[L. rugatus, p. p. of rugare to wrinkle, fr. ruga a wrinkle.]
Having alternate ridges and depressions; wrinkled. Dana.

Learn Yiddish In Thailand

I thought that this was kind of interesting.

BANGKOK – A new Yiddish program will soon be launched at the Goethe-Institut in Thailand.

Thai students who have successfully completed an advanced German course will be offered the opportunity to learn Ashkenazi language at the institute, which is situated beside the German Embassy in Bangkok.

Net Perra, a student at Ramkhamhaeng University in Bankok, has shown interest in the new course.

“Jews are a wise people,” Perra said, “You have to learn their language and their culture in order to understand them.”

In addition to learning Yiddish, Perra and the other students enrolled in the course will also learn basic concepts of Jewish history and culture. Trips to local kosher restaurants and a visit to the Chabad center in Bangkok are part of the program’s curriculum.

Peter Adowalt, an instructor at the institute, assembled the curriculum after completing his research on Jewish communities in Bangkok, Berlin, and Munich in collaboration with a Muslim instructor at the institute’s Cairo branch.

“Yiddish is very close to German,” Adowalt said, “I chose it to demonstrate to students how a people with no nation for generations developed a language of its own.”