A new documentary titled, The Linguists, is scheduled for release in January (here’s a link that will take you to the trailer).Â It looks like an interesting film.Â Here is the synopsis:
Scientists estimate that of 7,000 languages in the world, half will be gone by the end of this century. On average, one language disappears every two weeks. THE LINGUISTS follows David Harrison and Gregory Anderson, scientists racing to document languages on the verge of extinction. David and Gregâ€™s â€˜round-the-world journey takes them deep into the heart of the cultures, knowledge, and communities at stake. In Siberia, David and Greg seek to record the Chulym language, which hasnâ€™t been heard by outsiders for more than thirty years. The linguists encounter remnants of the racist Soviet regime that may have silenced Chulym for good. In India, tribal children attend boarding schools, where they learn Hindi and English, a trade, and the pointlessness of their native tongues. Similar boarding schools for tribal children existed in the US through most of the twentieth century. David and Greg travel to the childrenâ€™s villages, where economic unrest has stirred a violent Maoist insurgency. The linguists witness the fear and poverty that have driven youth from their native communities. In Bolivia, the Kallawaya language has survived for centuries with fewer than one hundred speakers. David and Greg trek high into the Andes to unlock its secret.
I do not think that we need to spend a lot of effort and money to preserve living communities of languages that are dying out–languages constantly change and in general I don’t think we need to impose artificial constraints upon them.Â However, I do support the kind of work that this documentary depicts.Â That is, recording and documenting languages that are in peril.Â I think that we should make great efforts to preserve this kind ofÂ data.
What do you think?