« 1st Call for Papers for a graduate student colloquium on Language | Blog home | Grammar-writing group (2) - general properties »

business learning training articles new learning business training opportunities finance learning training deposit money learning making training art loan learning training deposits make learning your training home good income learning outcome training issue medicine learning training drugs market learning money training trends self learning roof training repairing market learning training online secure skin learning training tools wedding learning training jewellery newspaper learning for training magazine geo learning training places business learning training design Car learning and training Jips production learning training business ladies learning cosmetics training sector sport learning and training fat burn vat learning insurance training price fitness learning training program furniture learning at training home which learning insurance training firms new learning devoloping training technology healthy learning training nutrition dress learning training up company learning training income insurance learning and training life dream learning training home create learning new training business individual learning loan training form cooking learning training ingredients which learning firms training is good choosing learning most training efficient business comment learning on training goods technology learning training business secret learning of training business company learning training redirects credits learning in training business guide learning for training business cheap learning insurance training tips selling learning training abroad protein learning training diets improve learning your training home security learning training importance

Peter K. Austin
Department of Linguistics, SOAS
1st September 2008

After some delay due to a backlog of other "Top 10s", my promised article entitled Top 10 Endangered Languages appeared on the Guardian website on Tuesday last week. It has been attracting some attention and comment. Several things seem to have happened to the article in the blogosphere:

  1. the content was copied whole (with citation) by a number of bloggers - here, here
  2. only part of the content attracted the attention of some bloggers, eg. Ainu here and here, Ket here, Yuchi here, the loss of cultural heritage here and the parameters I adopted to help me choose here
  3. Claire Bowern was prompted to come up with her own list of Top 10 endangered languages on her Anggarrgoon blog
  4. David Crystal mentioned it on his blog which resulted in a comment linking to Claire's list, and a snappy commentary on Claire's choice of Mapundungun as an endangered language
  5. it was listed on Deliggit.com, which claims to track "the social sites most interesting urls"
  6. it was dug (digged?) on Digg, with 1059 diggs and 154 comments so far. It is currently on the first page of Digg, which is apparently a cool place to be.

Some of the comments on the Digg page will be familiar to anyone who has tried to discuss endangered languages with predominantly English-speaking members of the general public: "let 'em all die", "death is a sign of progress", "proper English is an endangered language", and so on. A few are more positive, with a number urging documentation for the future. It is interesting to see that despite there being a whole slew of popular books on the topic published since 2000, members of the general public, or the people who use Digg at least, remain quite uninformed about endangered language issues.

I guess we can but keep on trying by publishing things like a Top 10 list when the opportunity arises, as it did for me last month.

Post script: My colleague, David Hughes from the SOAS Music Department, is currently in Japan and wrote me as follows when he saw the Guardian posting:

"there have been two articles about young Ainu musicians in the paper in the past ten days or so. These musicians are trying hard to learn to sing in Ainu (while understanding the meaning, of course, not just mouthing the sounds). As in Okinawa in the south music is one important mechanism for encouraging language learning among the young, BUT only if that music is sufficiently popular or at least not scorned among the majority populace. Okinawan music is very popular and relatively prestigious; Ainu music, not yet, but the smallish popularity of performers like Oki (half-Ainu, didn't know it till he was an adult, had to learn the language), or the Ainu Rebels, will help young Ainu get interested.

For a sample of this new music take a look at the video of Toko Emi's haunting Ainu song "yay-sama" from her album Upopo.

The role of popular music in language revitalisation in Australia and elsewhere has been noted before.


> It has been attracting
> some attention and comment.

And not just in English. I've just blogged about it in Esperanto, a community uncommonly aware of language diversity and linguistic human rights.

Blogged about in Esperanto - neat! There's also this in Japanese.

A Google blog search turns up 34 posts, and a more general Google search returns over 2,800 websites, however quite a number of these just repeat or link to the original content from the Guardian website.

Still, not bad coverage for endangered languages, I reckon.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Enter the code shown below before pressing post

The Authors

About the Blog

The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.


Papua New Guinea FAQs from Eva Lindstrom Papua New Guinea (New Ireland): Eva Lindstrom's tips for fieldworkers

Australian Languages Answers to some frequently asked questions about Australian languages

Papua Web Information network on Papua, Indonesia (formerly Irian Jaya)

Hibernating blogs

Indigenous Language SPEAK

Langguj gel Australian linguistics and fieldwork blog

Interesting Blogs

Omniglot Writing systems and languages of the world

LingFormant Linguistics news

Language hat Linguistics news and commentary

Jabal al-Lughat Linguistics news and commentary on a range of languages

Living languages Blog with news items and discussion of endangered languages

OzPapersOnline Notices of recent work on the Indigenous languages of Australia

That Munanga linguist Community linguist blog

Anggarrgoon Claire Bowern's linguistics and fieldwork blog

Savage Minds A group blog on Anthropology

Fully (sic)

Language on the Move Intercultural communication and multilingualism

Talking Alaska: Reflections on the native languages of Alaska

Culture matters: applying anthropology Australian anthropology blog: postgraduates and staff

Long Road ethnography and anthropology blog - including about Australia

matjjin-nehen Blog on Australian linguistics, fieldwork, politics and the environment.

Language Log Group blog on language and linguistics


E-MELD The E-MELD School of Best Practices in Digital Language Documentation

Tema Modersmål Website in Swedish with links to sites on and in many languages

Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project: Language Documentation: What is it? Information on equipment, formats, and archiving, and examples of documentation

Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources a worldwide network of organizations, academics, activists, indigenous groups, and others representing indigenous and tribal peoples

Technorati Profile

Technology-enhanced language revitalization Include ILAT (Indigenous Languages and Technology) discussion list.

Endangered languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia

Koryak Net Information on the people of Kamchatka

Linguistic fieldwork preparation: a guide for field linguists syllabi, funding, technology, ethics, readings, bibliography

On-line resources for endangered languages

Papua New Guinea Language Resources Phonologies, grammars, dictionaries, literacy, language maps for many PNG languages

Resource network for linguistic diversity Networking practitioners working to record,retrieve & reintroduce endangered languages


ACLA child language acquisition in three Australian Aboriginal communities

DELAMAN The Digital Endangered Languages and Musics Archives Network

PARADISEC The Pacific And Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures

Murriny-Patha Song Project Documenting the language and music of public songs and dances composed and performed by Murriny Patha-speaking people

PFED The Project for Free Electronic Dictionaries

DOBES Endangered language documentation and archiving, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and sponsored by the Max Planck Institute, Nijmegen.

DELP Documenting endangered languages at the University of Sydney

Ethno EResearch Exploring methods and technology for streaming media and interlinear text