ABC Canberra: Language Diversity and Endangerment
On Monday, I gave a short interview on the ABC Canberra Drive show, with Anna Vidot, to talk about language diversity and endangerment on the back of the release of Grambank.
This was my first radio interview, and because I was nervous, I didn’t answer all the questions as well I would have liked. In particular, I blanked on the question “Why should we save languages”? So, here is my short second attempt at an answer:
Language is the vehicle for a much broader concept of culture. By revitalizing and encouraging linguistic diversity in the world, we are also creating space for diversity in cultural practice. Creating space for cultural diversity builds an environment where individuals are free to express themselves and begins to repeal the oppressive impacts of colonialism.
Taking a purely scientific point of view, language diversity allows us to explore the impact of social and cultural contexts on cognitive diversity. Our current knowledge of linguistic diversity, and its impact on psychology, is incredibly limited, and the rate of which languages are no longer being spoken is decreasing faster than we are learning about them. Shifting our efforts towards revitalizing languages and creating space for languages to support themselves creates more time for the scientific enquiry of diversity, but might also encourage those who come from non-western psychological background to help us further our understanding of human cognition.
Some other notable media coverage of the Grambank release
- The Conversation: Research on 2,400 languages shows nearly half the world’s language diversity is at risk.
- Phys.org: Database shows the diversity of the world’s languages
- Scienmag: Grambank shows the diversity of the world’s languages
- EurekAlert!: World’s largest grammar database reveals accelerating loss of language diversity
A complete collection is available from Altmetrics.