Language
Posted: 
Friday, February 25, 2011 - 10:38am

K. David Harrison, a linguist and activist for the documentation and preservation of endangered languages, will be present during the screening of the Sundance Film Festival documentary, “The Linguists,” on March 8 at JCC's Jamestown Campus.

The program, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Student Union, is free and open to the public. Program sponsors are the Katharine Jackson Carnahan Endowment for the Arts and the college program committee of JCC's Faculty Student Association.

“The Linguists,” produced by Ironbound Films and nominated for an Emmy in 2008, presents the efforts by Dr. Harrison and fellow linguist Gregory Anderson to locate and meet with the last speakers of some of the world's most endangered languages.

Scientists estimate that half of the 7,000 languages of the world will be gone by the end of this century. According to the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, “minority languages are being increasingly replaced by various politically, economically, or socio-culturally dominant ones. Every two weeks the last fluent speaker of a language passes on and with him/her goes literally hundreds of generations of traditional knowledge encoded in these ancestral tongues.”

Dr. Harrison is associate professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College, where he also teaches courses in anthropology and cognitive science. He is the director of research and co-founder of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages. He has conducted fieldwork in Russia, Mongolia, the Philippines, India, Bolivia, and Native America.

 

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