Sunday, April 04, 2010

One more language goes the way of the dodo..

Very sad indeed.

CNN reported on February 5th the death of Boa Sr, 85, the last speaker of Bo. the language which she grew up with, which is said to have evolved over 65,000 years on Andaman islands is officially extinct.

Stephen Corry, the Director of Survival International - a London-based group, which works to protect indigenous peoples - said Boa's loss is a bleak reminder that we must not allow this to happen to the other tribes of the Andaman islands.

According to UNESCO, at least 240 languages have died since 1950. That's a cultural extinction rate of one language every three months over the last 60 years. Worse news is that the language mortality rate may be accelerating dramatically: worst-case scenario is an extinction rate of a language death every ten days between now and the year 2100.

Greg Rosner writes about this and the similarity between human DNA and languages. There are 6700 languages spoken today, he says, half of which will become extinct in about 25 years. While all humans have 99.9% the exact same DNA, that point one percent carries billions of variations which make up all our different physical (and possibly other) traits as humans. Those differences have been mutating and diverging in modern humans for only about 150,000 years. Which means that the Bo language evolved prior to modern humanity. Fossil record and DNA evidence seems to indicate that all hominids died out 60,000 years ago, with the exception of a small population of humans living in eastern Africa, some 65,000 years ago!!

Language and DNA both evolve, mutate and in many cases, die out. When populations of people live in isolation for long periods of time, (say, a thousand years) their language changes and so does their DNA.While languages and DNA change with different rates of time, it has been natural for both to evolve and adapt into amazing differences. Grammar, syntax, style, spelling. Dialects evolve.

Every time we lose a language we lose human experience, creativity, and a unique perspective of ourselves and the world. We are all weaker every time it happens.
There is something we can do about it--and it's not only a matter of protecting and promoting our own mother tongue. Language and cultural experts tell us that the best way to protect human cultural diversity is to celebrate and share it. Celebrate our own language, yes, but also learn and respect the languages of others.

There is a website where you could learn more about endangered languages.


For all your English to Arabic and vice versa translations that will help you expand your business into the Middle East visit Arabic Language Experts at

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