Can technology prevent language loss?

An interesting interview from the Huffington Post today with Dr. David Harrison, director of research for the non-profit Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages and author of “The Last Speakers: The Quest to Save the World’s Most Endangered Languages”.

Harrison believes that technology, particularly video technology, is going to be a great help in saving endangered languages. He also doesn’t think that it’s inevitable that languages will die out. Here’s an extract from the interview:

Nataly Kelly: Do you believe that technology can help prevent language loss?

David Harrison: What prevents language loss are attitudes and actions on the part of people. Technologies can be leveraged and deployed to meet that goal. I have seen many useful examples ranging from people putting up Facebook or other social networking postings in endangered languages to texting them or emailing them. I’ve just created a YouTube channel that is devoted exclusively to recordings of endangered languages. I’ve also created a number of talking dictionaries which have put several languages on the internet for the very first time.

Technology allows a small language that may have been very local and may have been only spoken, not written down and used only by a small number of speakers in a single, remote location to suddenly gain a global audience and expand beyond its current confines and eventually, to sustain itself.

Read the full interview text here.


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