LINGUIST List 14.1538

Thu May 29 2003

Disc: New: NYT Essay on Endangered Languages

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <karenlinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Karen Chung, Media: NYT: Essay on endangered languages
  2. Christopher Bader, Article on Endangered Languages in Science Times
  3. jess tauber, essay on dying languages in the new york times

Message 1: Media: NYT: Essay on endangered languages

Date: Tue, 27 May 2003 19:33:33 +0800
From: Karen Chung <karchungntu.edu.tw>
Subject: Media: NYT: Essay on endangered languages


 In the science section of the May 27, 2003 online edition of the New
York Times, there is an essay on endangered languages entitled:

 Fading Species and Dying Tongues: When the Two Part Ways
 by David Berreby

 The URL:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/27/science/27ESSA.html


 Karen Steffen Chung
 http://ccms.ntu.edu.tw/~karchung/
 http://www.topica.com/lists/phonetics/


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Message 2: Article on Endangered Languages in Science Times

Date: Wed, 28 May 2003 15:43:24 +0000
From: Christopher Bader <cbaderunveil.com>
Subject: Article on Endangered Languages in Science Times

The Science Times section of Tuesday's New York Times has an essay on
endangered languages which purports to debunk the analogy between
endangered languages and endangered species. In my opinion, it is
specious arguments in the essay that need debunking. Indeed, I would
suggest this as a topic for a discussion thread on Linguist. Check
out:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/27/science/27ESSA.html 
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Message 3: essay on dying languages in the new york times

Date: Tue, 27 May 2003 12:18:46 +0000
From: jess tauber <phonosemanticsearthlink.net>
Subject: essay on dying languages in the new york times

david berreby: fading species and dying tongues: when the two part ways
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/27/science/27ESSA.html

The author suggests that saving endangered languages is more of a
political issue than a scientific one (as opposed to the issue of
biological species extinction), and that there is no moral difference
between being forced to adopt a new language and being ''forced'' to
keep the old one by ''language bullies'', presumably code here for
preservationalists. Further, apparently only living bodies deserves
protection, not the culture, cumulated knowledge, beliefs, etc. housed
in those bodies- after all, language is in constant flux historically
anyway.

Given that genetically all multicellular organisms are far more
similar than they are different (despite surface appearances), and
that over paleontological time species themselves are in constant flux
(in terms of species dominance and the particulars of genetic makeup
internally both individually and population-wise) perhaps the same
argumentation could be used to weigh the relative merits of allowing
relatively maladapted minority groups (such as higher primates) to
continue to maintain their genetic individualities at the expense of
much more successful and widespread ones- such as ants, flies, and
worms.

Jess Tauber
phonosemanticsearthlink.net 
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