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Endangered Languages

Dr. Jennifer Green from the University of Melbourne, Australia, talks about her ELDP funded documentation project on Arandic verbal art from Central Australia. Samples of this project titled "Narrative art: multimodal documentation of speech, song, sign, drawing and gesture in Arandic storytelling traditions from Central Australia", can be viewed at the Endangered Languages ARchive (ELAR) web catalogue:

Linda Barwick tells us about her joint documentation project with Allan Marrett and other linguists and musicologists in West Arnhem Land, Australia. The project came out of an "interest in how the musical traditions [of West Arnhem Land] relate to language and how music communities navigate around multilingual layers of affiliation and communication."

Do children get confused if you speak to them in more than one language?
Does speaking more than one language make you smarter?
What is the best language to learn?
Wouldn't it be better if we all spoke the same language?

Visiting scholar, Dr. Kristine Stenzel, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro speaks to us about her collaborative language documentation project with the Kotiria and Wa'ikhana of Brazil. Includes an extract of Wa'ikhana.

The Scissor Dance is a traditional dance of Peru, often performed during religious and non-religious festivals. As part of the opening of Endangered Languages Week 2012 at SOAS, Jose Navarro (Pishtaco) and Jose Fernandez (Ccory Ccente) performed traditional and contemporary interpretations of the dance. Join us in the home of Pishtaco as he talks to us about the themes and traditions behind the Scissor Dance.

"Hello, I'm a linguist. Let me paint your mouth with charcoal." Linguists working in the field employ a range of many different techniques to carry out their linguistic research. Jenny McCarthy, a student linguist studying at SOAS, provides us with an overview of palatography, a process which involves using charcoal to monitor the inner workings of the mouth when producing ticks and clicks.

Sand drawing is a unique art form only found in the Vanuatu archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean. They are a unique form of communicational art which represent physical objects as well as stories of the local populace, and are listed by UNESCO as part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity, in need of safeguarding for future generations Listen as Mike Franjieh, a PhD student of Linguistics who has carried out research in the island of North Ambrym in Vanuatu, describes the drawings and their stories.

Last year (2011), Language Landscape looked at London's languages and provided participants/viewers/listeners with an overview of the different languages spoken at SOAS in London. This year, with the launch of their new websites, Language Landscape will take you on a global journey of discovery as they expand the scope of their research from a local language hub, to the rest of the world. Discover traditional Swedish songs in London and Russian chants in the Czech Republic. Join us as we discover unexpected languages in unexpected places.

How many languages are there in the world? How many are endangered? Are they worth saving, or are they a waste of time? You would be surprised to find out what people think. Join the Linguistics Masters students as they set out to discover what people around London really think about languages and whether or not they are worth saving.

Jeff Good - Professor of Linguistics at the University Of Buffalo discusses his fieldwork in Cameroon and his recent lectures given during Endangered Languages Week in London.

Gabriela Perez Baez is a curator of Linguistics at the Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. She talks in depth about her experience of researching Endangered Languages within Mexican communities. Her fieldwork has uncovered vital empirical evidence in regards to the anthropological development of languages in these communities.

Armando Conte speaks with Peter Austin - a Professor of Linguistics at SOAS and Director of the Endangered Languages programme. They discuss factors which contribute to language endangerment and movements which have been taken to preserve languages in crisis. This includes an example of the decline of Esperanto. Also Professor Austin gives a helpful outline of the objectives of the Endangered Languages project.

Nick and Sam, MA Linguistic students at SOAS, preview a handful of recordings made as part of London’s Language Landscape- a student project aimed at capturing a snapshot of the languages spoken at SOAS. They discuss how the recordings and much more will be part of an exhibition at the Brunei Suite on Thursday 12th May as part of Endangered Languages Week 2011. Website:

SOAS researcher Malin Petzell introduces Kagulu, a language in Tanzania that is being squeezed by the state-promotion of Swahili. Hear the musicality and the music, along with a taste of Malin's fieldwork in Tanzania.

In this podcast, Dr Friederike Lüpke, acting Director of the Endangered Languages Project at SOAS, introduces the topics and events at this years' Endangered Languages Week. This event, taking place between the 22-27 February at SOAS, presents a variety of talks, displays, discussions, films, lectures and workshops. For more info visit the endangered languages week website at:

Julia Sallabank discusses Guernesiais, a variety of Norman French which is only spoken fluently by around 2% of the islanders on Guernsey.

Maurizio Gnerre from the University of Naples discusses Huave, the language isolate spoken by the Huave people in Southern Mexico as part of Endangered Languages Week 2008.

As part of Endangered Languages Week 2008, OpenAir interviews Professor Peter K. Austin, the director of the Endangered Languages Academic Programme, SOAS, who explained what an endangered language is, and the activities that taking place during Endangered Languages Week 2008.