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May 15, 2013

Could Texting Save Endangered Languages?

I, and many others, have written about the threat that texting holds for many languages, but could texting actually be saving some rare and endangered languages?

Some people say so, I know it seems unlikely, but...

...when you think about it, it does make sense.

Texting is a nearly universal technology, available around the world, affordable and, most surprising of all (at least to me) not limited to English - or any particular language.

Some of the rarest languages in the world, in some of the most isolated areas, have picked up texting, not only as a way to communicate, but also as a way to save their threatened language.

English (as well as Spanish) have been major threats to indigenous languages over the centuries. The emergence of the internet (primarily in English) was, at least at first, yet another, if not the final, threat to these languages on the verge of extinction.

The problem, it turns out, is, how do you get young people to keep and use your endangered, indigenous language?

The answer, unexpectedly, is technology, texting in particular.

Young people actually want to learn texting, and they will use it and adapt it to their needs and lifestyles.

Take a look at this article and let me know what you think - http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/11/magazine/everyone-speaks-text-message.html?_r=2&scp=1&sq=everyone+speaks+text+message&st=cse&.

Sometimes we forget that languages only continue to exist because they are useful and adapt to ever-changing vocations, technology and cultural, as well as personal needs.

Technology is changing how we communicate, who we communicate with and, perhaps most of all, the vocabulary of human language itself.

Be sure to send us any uses of technology or language that puzzle, fascinate or horrify you, and be sure to let us know what it is about language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

Morf

Also: If you'd like to have Morf visit your school or program this summer, you can contact him at mmorf@mail.com.

Posted by mmorf at May 15, 2013 09:34 PM

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