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Sun Jun 24, 2012, 01:52 PM

Google sets out to save dying languages


Google has set out to save the world’s dying languages.

In an alliance with scholars and linguists, the Internet powerhouse has introduced an Endangered Languages Project website where people can find, share, and store information about dialects in danger of disappearing.

“People can share their knowledge and research directly through the site and help keep the content up-to-date,” project managers Clara Rivera Rodriguez and Jason Rissman said in a Google blog post.

“A diverse group of collaborators have already begun to contribute content ranging from 18th-century manuscripts to modern teaching tools like video and audio language samples and knowledge-sharing articles.”

The website at endangeredlanguages.com is designed to let users upload video, audio, or text files and encourages them to memorialize recordings of rare dialects.


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Reply Google sets out to save dying languages (Original post)
AsahinaKimi Jun 2012 OP
Igel Jun 2012 #1

Response to AsahinaKimi (Original post)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 10:47 PM

1. Less to save and more to document in an ad hoc fashion.

Hard to "save" a language, because it's not just a set of words and a grammar. It's also usage and connotation, the way you look at certain words and the kinds of neural activation you get through phonological and semantic priming.

The content of language can be replicated. It may be clumsy, since speakers often optimize their lexicon for their environment. Translating a utility bill? Translating a science or history text for high school? No prob. Fiction can be dicey because of cultural--not necessary just linguistics--hurdles. (What makes Tolstaya sometimes tricky in English is the same kind of thing that makes Milton tricky in English.)

It's all the connotations and webs of meanigs that are lost. Poetry is a bear to translate, some fiction is so made as to be difficult to render.

But to resurrect a language is pretty much impossible. Israeli Hebrew isn't Tiberian Hebrew.

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