CETRA Movie Nights return on January 29, 2013, with a free showing of The Linguists at 7:00pm at International House Philadelphia. CETRA Language Solutions and the Language Department of International House Philadelphia are teaming up to share their passion for international culture and language with the Philadelphia community. The Linguists is the perfect movie to kick off this partnership because it explores endangered languages and the cultures behind them.
The Linguists is an independent 2008 American documentary film produced by Ironbound Films about language extinction and language documentation. It follows two linguists, K. David Harrison and Greg Anderson of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, as they travel around the world to learn more about dying languages. Language extinction happens when a language is abandoned because speakers come to think of it as socially inferior, passé, backward, or economically stagnant. The current rapid decline of languages, with approximately one language becoming extinct every two weeks, appears to be unprecedented in human history. When these languages die the civilizations lose the cultural traditions of the language. Every language contains the collective history of an entire people. The Linguists focuses on three dying languages: Chulym in Siberia; Sora in Orissa, India; and Kallawaya in Bolivia. In the film, Harrison and Anderson document their search to find the last speakers of the languages.
Since 2007 The Living Tongues Institute has been working with National Geographic to create the Enduring Voices Project. The goal of the Enduring Voices Project is to document endangered languages and prevent language extinction by identifying the most crucial areas where languages are endangered and embarking on expeditions to understand the geographic dimensions of language distribution, determine how linguistic diversity is linked to biodiversity, and bring wide attention to the issue of language loss. David Harrison and Greg Anderson created the Language Hotspot model used by the Enduring Voices Project as a new way to view the distribution of global linguistic diversity, to assess the threat of language extinction, and to prioritize research. Hotspots are those regions of the world having the greatest linguistic diversity, the greatest language endangerment, and the least-studied languages.
In 2013, CETRA will support the Smithsonian Folklife Festival’s theme of One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage to help raise awareness of dying languages. To donate to the Living Tongues Institute or participate in its Adopt-a-Language program, click here.