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Chapter 11

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Department
Anthropology
Course
ANTB21H3
Professor
Jessica Taylor
Semester
Winter

Description
Chapter 11: Language Death and Revitalization - Being last speaker of a language means feeling isolated and having very few opportunities to speak ones language - Feeling nearly invisible surrounded by speakers of another more dominant language - Forgetting words and grammatical rules because of opportunity to use language in actual social context - Micheal Krauss says statistics on language viability is hard to come by. WHY? o Places with highest concentration of languages are in remote places o Many government are either unaware of or actively hostile to speaker of languages aside from the ones recognized by the state o Many languages have already disappeared in the past millennia o No agreed upon set of criteria that distinguishes language from dialect - There are 6,909 languages as of 2009 - 389 languages have atleast a million speakers, 6% of languages = 94% of world population. - Languages are not evenly spread across the globe Criteria of Languages - Safe languages: languages that have official government support and/or large number of speakers. 10% of all world languages are considered safe. - Endangered languages: Languages still being learned by children, will cease to be learned by children in the next century if present conditions persist - Moribund languages: languages ceased to be learned by children and are therefore almost certainly doomed to extinction - Dead or Extinct languages: languages that are no longer spoken by anyone, even if there are written materials or recording in those languages What Dies When Languages Die 3 Areas of Loss – K. David Harrison - The erosion of the human knowledge base o Specially local ecological knowledge o Estimated 87% of world’s plants and animals are yet not identified o Massive disruption of transfer of knowledge across generations when group switches from endangered to dominant language - The loss of cultural heritage o Myths, jokes, wordplay and other forms of verbal art are just some of the cultural practices that can be lost o Always something lost when myths/sayings are translated into another language - Failure to acquire a full understanding of human cognitive capacities o Can’t understand the capabilities of the human mind o The more languages that die, the more likely scholars will draw conclusions about the limits of human cognition mistakenly o Ex. Language of Urarina spoken in Amzonian rainforest in Peru o English uses Subject- Verb-Oject (S-V-O) and Urarina uses Object
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