LINGUIST List 14.843

Sat Mar 22 2003

FYI: Scholarships in Spain,Endangered Languages

Editor for this issue: James Yuells <jameslinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Carmen Velasco, Scholarships to Spanish Universities
  2. Doug Whalen, Endangered Language Opportunity

Message 1: Scholarships to Spanish Universities

Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 10:43:35 -0500
From: Carmen Velasco <carmen.velasco.usacorreo.mec.es>
Subject: Scholarships to Spanish Universities

The following information may be of interest:
The Embassy of Spain offers partial scholarships to University Faculty in
USA and Canada to attend summer courses in Spanish Universities.
The courses are intended for university and college faculty of Spanish
and/or of other disciplines, and who would like to learn or to improve their
knowledge of the Spanish language and culture.
For more information
http://www.sgci.mec.es/usa/becas/universidad/indexeng.shtml
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Message 2: Endangered Language Opportunity

Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2003 09:12:50 -0500
From: Doug Whalen <whalenhaskins.yale.edu>
Subject: Endangered Language Opportunity

 Dear Listers,
 I am passing along a request from Jack Hitt, a reporter from the 
New York Times magazine. He would like to take a personal approach 
to describing the value of endangered languages. In this time of 
turmoil, examining the diversity in language, our most human trait, 
may provide some comfort. If you have suggestions, please send them 
directly to Jack at hittaol.com.
 Doug Whalen DhW, President, Endangered Language Fund

My name is Jack Hitt, and I am a writer for the New York Times 
Magazine. Ever since spending time in Canada's northern villages, I 
have been following the story about endangered languages. I believe 
just a few years ago, the Canadian government decided to spend a 
decent sum of money trying to determine what languages are 
disappearing and what can be done. I was stunned to find out how many 
languages there were in Canada (and the world) and how many of them 
are spoken by only a few surviving speakers.

Typically, the story I read is about the methodology used to preserve 
the language, either in print or audio archives. Here is what I am 
interested in doing. I want to tell this story by learning one of 
these languages and going, as a journalist, to talk to the people who 
still speak it. What gets lost with any language dying, among so many 
things, is the stories of the people and the culture. So what I would 
want to figure out, before I learn the language, is which one might 
be the most likely to yield good stories. It would seem (although I 
could be wrong) that I would want to find a language that was 
actually quite close to blinking out--a language with only a few 
speakers (say, under a hundred or so) left to talk. It would also 
have to be a group that would have stories to tell. Stories about 
their lives, their struggles in their lifetimes. But also, stories 
about their culture. Their creation stories. Their stories that 
explain the ruling forces in the universe. Their view of the 
afterlife.

This story might be expanded to include some work among a group of 
people who are trying to resurrect a language at the same time. But 
that seems complimentary, at this point, to the central story of what 
we lose when we lose a language. I read a piece, by someone rather 
skeptical, who said that only good could come out of this loss 
because more and more people would be learning English and therefore 
joining the global economy. This seems hopelessly naive. Loss of 
diversity, whether it's biological or linguistic (or economic), is 
rarely a good thing.

I was a comp lit major in college (Spanish and Latin), so I am at 
least comfortable memorizing lists and lists of nouns and verbs. But 
that's the easy part. The hard part is this one, finding the right 
language and culture, the one with the right stories, to tell, at 
last, this story.

All the best,
Jack Hitt
- 
Doug Whalen (whalenhaskins.yale.edu)
Haskins Laboratories
270 Crown St.
New Haven, CT 06511
203-865-6163, ext. 234
FAX: 203-865-8963
http://www.haskins.yale.edu/
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