Endangered Languages Week at the University of Texas at Arlington
(November 2011) The Department of Linguistics and TESOL* at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) has arranged a series of events to raise awareness of languages in peril. UTA Endangered Languages Week events will take place on the UTA campus 31 October through 4 November. The event is free and open to the public.
Among the scholars who will speak during Endangered Languages Week is Mike Cahill, PhD, of SIL. Cahill’s presentation is entitled, "Extreme literacy: Developing an orthography for an unwritten language." Literacy in an endangered language can:
- strengthen that language’s vitality;
- raise the perceived status of the language;
- make it possible to communicate in new ways;
- preserve cultural material;
- make it easier to disseminate certain types of information, such as health materials.
However, thousands of world languages have no written form. With a view to making this complex topic accessible to both linguists and non-linguists, Cahill will introduce basic concepts of writing system design, including a look into social factors which can affect acceptance of a new writing system.
SIL partners with ethnolinguistic communities in language development efforts which contribute to the vitality of minority languages, many of which are endangered. SIL researchers collect and analyze linguistic and cultural data. This research lays the foundation for future language development. It also provides valuable documentation of unique language structures which may not otherwise be preserved into future generations. The danger of languages dying out is real, but SIL believes every language and culture is part of the mosaic of humanity.
*the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages
Related links of interest
- UTA Endangered Languages Week (includes a schedule of events)
- Curriculum Vitae for Mike Cahill, PhD
- SIL and endangered languages
- A listing of the world’s known endangered languages
- Developing orthographies for unwritten languages
- SIL publications on orthography/writing systems
- SIL publications on endangered languages