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Endangered Alphabets Project: An Update



Date Submitted: 29-Jan-2011
From: Tim Brookes
Subject: Endangered Alphabets Project: An Update
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Notice: Dear fellow writers, linguists, anthropologists and scholars in general all across the planet:

You may recall I recently made an appeal on behalf of my Endangered Alphabets Project (see http://www.endangeredalphabets.com). To my great delight and gratitude, I heard back from people all over the world, and I'm pleased to say that I may have found collaborators who can help me with Balinese, Javanese, Tai Dam, and Maldivian.

In addition, I've heard from people with connections to Manchu and Nushu, though it's not yet clear whether these will lead me to someone who can actually read and write those traditional scripts.

As a bonus, I've even heard from people who know scripts I'd never even heard of: Mro and Eskayan.

Here are the scripts that are eluding me:

Rejang
Bamum
Inuktitut
Ranjana/Lantsa
N'Ko
Buhid
Bugis
Samaritan

And of course I'm always pleased to hear about writing systems that are off my (and Omniglot's) map.

And also, here's an update on what the next phase of the project will consist of. I'm now starting a similar carving project whose aim once again is to draw attention to the world's vanishing scripts.
I've written a short, simple poem about the importance of preserving endangered languages in their spoken and written forms. It goes like this:

These are our words, shaped
By our hands, our tools,
Our history. Lose them
And we lose ourselves.

If I manage, with your help, to get this poem translated in 16 endangered scripts, I plan to build a sculpture that consists of four tall pieces of beautiful maple wood, each facing toward a different point of the compass. Each face of the sculpture will display the poem in four endangered alphabets, assuming I can round up the full 16. This sculpture will then go on permanent exhibition in a major public building in the United States or, actually, anywhere in the world--a library, perhaps. Open to suggestions on that front, too.

For this to happen, though, I need to be in touch with people who can read and write these disappearing scripts well enough to be able to translate a short text for me.

If you happen to be able to read and write in one or more of the above scripts and are interested in joining me in this project by translating the poem, please contact me at brookes@champlain.edu. Needless to say, I'll credit you in all written materials.

If you think you may know of someone else who may be able to help, please forward this appeal to him or her.