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Google’s Effort to Save Dying Languages

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A global map of endangered languages.
A global map of endangered languages.

You may have heard of an endangered species before, but what about an endangered language? Well they exist, but not for very long –  at least not without the help of search engine giant Google.

One of Google’s newest projects, the Endangered Languages Project, is being launched in hopes to save over 3,000 dying languages.

The website launched can be found at http://www.endangeredlanguages.com/ and is a platform to connect users all over the world, who either have access to elder’s who speak and have knowledge of endangered languages, or those who wish to learn more about the preservation of these languages.

We are introduced to the project via video and during it we learn that “Of the 7,000 languages currently spoken, it is expected that 50 percent will not survive the turn of the century.” We also receive the daunting knowledge that once the last fluent speaker of a language is no longer with us, the unique language, culture, and traditions that come with it are lost forever.

Project managers Clara Rivera Rodriguez and Jason Rissman took to a Google blog post stating, “The main goal of the site is language preservation; average citizens can help this cause by raising awareness in their local communities.”

When accessing the site one can’t help but experience a bittersweet and nostalgic feeling – one that reminds us that nothing (or at least no one) lasts forever and that eventually, like those who spoke languages centuries before us, we too as individuals will move on to a different place. With technology however, there is still a chance to hold onto visions and concepts of the past and build upon them in order to keep them alive.

The site also empowers the feeling of community and ability to come together with the help of advanced technology and social networking, reminding and allowing visitors to discover that there are so many races, ethnicities, and languages in the world, and that despite all this, it turns out that with the world isn’t so large after all.

I just wonder what Google has up its sleeve for the impending apocalypse, since that of course threatens the human race and any mark we have left with our existing presence, or am I foolish to question the power of a hard drive?

above image via whywords

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