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Students Assist with Mayan Language Revitalization Project

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – “Saqarik!” (sah-kah-REEK!) “Good morning!” So began presentations to grade schoolers in Nahualá, Guatemala, given by four Middlebury students as part of a Mayan language revitalization project this past January. The project was led by Associate Professor of Luso-Hispanic Studies Brandon Baird. “The school kids would always laugh when they heard us speak [...]

By |2020-05-24T13:33:47+00:00May 24th, 2020|Language revitalization, Mayan language, Mexico|0 Comments

In Milpa Alta, people still speak the Aztec language

In the 1970s, before workers laid the asphalt that became a two-lane highway connecting Mexico City with Milpa Alta, the southernmost of the city’s 16 delegations, Javier Galicia-Silva’s grandmother would hike down the hills to Xochimilco each day at 04:00. From here she would take a chalupa (a large water taxi) along the ancient canals [...]

By |2020-05-06T11:45:05+00:00May 6th, 2020|Language, Mexico, Nahuatl language|0 Comments

How Did Human Language Evolve? Scientists Still Don’t Know

Humans have language and other animals don’t. That’s obvious, but how it happened is not. Since Darwin’s time, scientists have puzzled over the evolution of language. They can observe the present-day product: People today have the capacity for language, whether it be spoken, signed or written. And they can infer the starting state: The communication [...]

By |2020-05-02T19:23:46+00:00May 2nd, 2020|Language|0 Comments

Scientists make a spectacular discovery about the origin of language in the brain

Mammal brains, unlike bones, do not fossilize. This fact presents a conundrum for scientists trying to understand how we came to be how we are. For example, scientists have long argued over how humans became able to speak -- if only they had an ancient brain to settle the debate! But with no time machine, [...]

By |2020-04-21T11:15:30+00:00April 21st, 2020|Language, The brain|0 Comments

How Technology Helps Preserve Endangered Indigenous Languages

Of the 537 federally recognized Native American tribes, only 139 of them still have speakers of their native language, and more than 90% of those languages are at risk of becoming extinct by 2050. Languages carry tribal knowledge, culture, humor, conversation styles, spirituality, and traditions. When language speakers decrease dramatically and parts of the language [...]

By |2020-04-18T13:18:41+00:00April 18th, 2020|Indigenous languages, Technology|0 Comments

Can emojis be evidence in court? Forensic linguists are figuring it out

Emojis have become ubiquitous in text communication – messages are peppered with smiley faces, hearts and other graphic icons. They were first drawn by graphic designer Shigetaka Kurita, and generated by a Japanese communications firm called NTT DoCoMo in the late 1990s. Now they’re everywhere. But would you be quite so quick to insert an [...]

By |2020-04-13T20:04:10+00:00April 13th, 2020|Emojis, Language, Law|0 Comments

Why Do Human Beings Speak so Many Languages?

The thatched roof held back the sun’s rays, but it could not keep the tropical heat at bay. As everyone at the research workshop headed outside for a break, small groups splintered off to gather in the shade of coconut trees and enjoy a breeze. I wandered from group to group, joining in the discussions. [...]

By |2020-04-10T23:03:12+00:00April 10th, 2020|Language|0 Comments

Fight to revitalise Arabic language learning begins with children’s books

When Maitha Al Khayat was a young pupil, she often stood at the back of the classroom, during Arabic lessons, hoping she would not be chosen to read out loud. Now an acclaimed children’s book author, she said she struggled to stay engaged because the classes were overly focused on grammar and they studied books [...]

By |2020-04-09T17:10:01+00:00April 9th, 2020|Arabic language|0 Comments

A Unifying Yiddish Library in Tel Aviv’s Dilapidated Bus Station

It happened one night in 2006. The actor and singer Mendy Cahan, accompanied by two bitter and exhausted movers, parked a large van with a container in the parking lot of Tel Aviv’s New Central Bus Station. Cahan quietly opened the container, and the trio began to pull out large boxes sealed with duct tape. [...]

By |2020-04-09T12:14:41+00:00April 9th, 2020|Yiddish language|0 Comments

Save the Words

The fight to keep indigenous languages alive, through speaking, software, and day care. Class starts with a prayer, but there’s no Jesus, no Muhammad, no saints or Abrahamic God. And no English. Reciting “Lavina’s Prayer” requires a handout that everyone falteringly reads from, guided by Joey Awonohopay, the director of the Menominee Language and Culture [...]

By |2020-04-08T15:51:19+00:00April 8th, 2020|Language|0 Comments