Texting might be helping save dying languages

Source: mcclatchydc.com

Here is a great article on how technology may be helping preserve languages and dialects that are slowly becoming extinct, rather than help kill them off as sometimes believed.

Across the globe in the Philippines, teenagers think it’s “cool” to send mobile phone text messages in regional languages that show signs of endangerment, such as Kapampangan.

Technology, long considered a threat to regional languages, now is being seen as a way to keep young people from forsaking their native tongues for dominant languages. YouTube and Facebook, as well as Internet radio and cell phone texting, are helping minority language groups stave off death.

Linguist Samuel Herrera said he was elated to find teenagers zapping each other with text messages in Huave, an endangered language spoken only by about 15,000 people in the Tehuantepec region of Mexico, along the Pacific.

“This really strengthens the use of the language,” said Herrera, who runs the linguistics laboratory at the Institute of Anthropological Research in the Mexican capital.

Dr. Gregory D.S. Anderson, the director of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages in Salem, Ore., agrees. Somewhere between the ages of 6 and 20 or 25, he said, “people make a definitive decision whether to break with the language.”

“If the language isn’t being used by their peer group, then they reject it categorically,” he said.

Technology as simple as text messaging can draw them back.

You can read the rest of the article here.