Heritage: Language as a Heritage

Languages, languages, languages. The dynamic systems of communication that form an inseparable part of human lives. Some of them are common to millions of people; some of them are spoken only by a few. Let’s learn about the language heritage people cherish, about groups of enthusiasts determined to save their language, about a new American language museum, or even about an author writing his books for a community that doesn’t really read much.


2,000 Rare Languages to Disappear

Daniel A. Tanner

A language dies on planet Earth every two weeks. This data was published by David Harrison, a linguist and deputy director of Living Tongues Institute, USA. There are about 7,000 languages existing in the world today. Eighty percent of people living in the world today speak the widely-spread 83 languages, and only 0,2 percent interact in rare 3,500 languages...

Opening of the National Museum of Language

Kevin Eagan

On May 3, 2008, the National Museum of Language opened in College Park, Maryland, with an exhibit called “Writing Language: Passing it on.” For the next year, the exhibit will be on display, encouraging visitors to learn about writing systems from around the world. They include languages that are written with letters from alphabets like Arabic, Latin, Greek and Hebrew, and those that use symbols from logographs like Chinese and Japanese...

How to Learn Basic Phrases in Any Language

Richard Moor

Knowing a few phrases in a foreign language can make a trip abroad much more enjoyable. Let’s find out how to choose what phrases to learn and how to study them...

Kyrgyz: An “Emerging” Language

Kevin Eagan

In the streets of Bishkek, two languages are found side by side on advertising billboards, at newsstands and in conversations. After gaining its independence in 1991, Kyrgyzstan adopted Kyrgyz as its national language and kept Russian as the official language. Linguistic results are mixed...

Languages Born Again: Hupa, Karuk, and Yurok

Gary Diskin

Nine teenagers file in to Kay Inong’s seventh period class at Hoopa Valley High School to learn a subject not available at any other school in the world: Advanced Yurok language. In the next building, Danny Ammon teaches the Hupa language and Phil Albers teaches Karuk. This school is the center of a renaissance in the preservation and restoration of the native languages of these three Northern California Klamath basin tribes. Less than a dozen native speakers in each of the tribes are still aliv...

Preaching in the Wilderness or Banking on the Future?

Denise Chen

After prolific production in French, the Senegalese novelist Boubacar Boris Diop decided to write in Wolof. For a poor, multilingual population with an oral tradition, books are not a priority. Yet African writers who express themselves in their national languages are becoming more and more numerous...