News Ticker

Every two weeks a language dies

Megan Riley / The Arbiter

There are over 7,000 languages in the world and according to linguists Gregory Anderson Ph.D. and David Harrison Ph.D., about one spoken language dies every two weeks.

These two men traveled the world documenting languages before they disappear for good.

A documentary was made about the men and some of their trips to visit the Chulym, Sora and Kallawaya people.

The documentary tells the story of these linguists working to preserve the languages of these people. A screening of the documentary took place in the Student Union Building on Feb. 16 with Anderson and Harrison present to answer questions

“There’s a huge interest in endangered languages and people want to know not only how can we study these languages, but what can we do to support language revitalization,” Harrison said.

Wanting to preserve languages isn’t solely for linguists though. Students also show their concern and interest in the diversity of languages throughout the world.

“It’s crucial when you think about literature and expanding literature to the idea of oral tradition and stories and culture and history, and every time a language dies that language’s method of describing the world and the environment goes with it and so I view that as sort of a death of part of the world in a sense,” said Boise State Linguistics Association President Kelsey Montzka, a senior history and English major with an emphasis in linguistics.

People from many different walks of life saw the documentary. Native Americans, exchange students, grandparents, children and local students all crowded into the room to learn about a linguist’s take on the steady extinction of languages.

“I do believe that documenting languages is very important,” said Ayla Robinson, sophomore English major with a writing emphasis. “I do not have the knack of languages. I can speak English and that is it. I think it’s really great and it was nice to have them (the linguists) here to answer any questions.”

The linguists’ work is ongoing and they enlisted the help of trained locals to carry on the field documentations as they settled back in at home.