Vanishing Voices

“ak byzaa”

Wonderful article in the current issue of National Geographic Magazine (how can the magazine be so good and the TV channel so bad?) on endangered languages.  Great examples of vocabulary from sample languages showing the connection between culture and language.  In Tuvan (famous for its throat singers, spoken in Tuva, Russia), for example, the word for future (songgaar) is literally to go back, while the word for the past (burungaar) is to go forward, pointing to the Tuvan belief that the past is ahead and the future behind.  Demonstrating the importance of herded animals in Tuvan culture, there is a word, ak byzaa for a “white calf, less than one year old”, while the term of endearment for a baby is anayim = my little goat. Segments as well on the Aka lanugage of India and the Seri language of Mexico.  Great pictures (as one would expect) and portraits of last speakers of a variety of languages – very sad.

One thought on “Vanishing Voices

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