Every Two Weeks A Language Dies

For a while now I’ve been watching the “TEDTalks” series via the TEDBlog.

As part of their update today they included the video of photographer Phil Borges. I admittedly had never heard of him before but with my renewed interest in photography I was keen to see what his talk had to offer, especially with the description of the videos contents:

Photographer Phil Borges displays his remarkable portraits, documenting the world’s disappearing cultures, from persecuted monks in Tibet to embattled tribes in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Almost right off the bat he dropped an interesting pair of tidbits about the demise of languages in the world that actually surprised me. Paraphrasing linguist, Ken Hayle, he said that 6,000 languages spoken on earth today, 3,000 of them aren’t spoken by the children. essentially, in a single generation we run the risk of losing roughly half the number of languages actively spoken in the world.

He added that every two weeks “an elder goes to the grave carrying the last spoken word of that culture”.

Chilling.

In this day and age is there really any excuse for losing a language?

While he doesn’t dwell on the language component he speaks a lot about heritage and culture – an interesting 12 or so minutes if you have the time:

I’d highly recommend checking the TEDBlog out – It’s Intriguing, often inspiring and at the very least interesting. http://tedblog.typepad.com

– Ryan