[When we come across discussions, reports, and events regarding vanishing languages, we who are vulnerable to losing our languages, albeit slowly, tend to think or behave like it’s not going to happen to us. Yet we continue to behave in ways that actually accelerate the imminent loss of our languages: we crave to learn other languages at the expense of our own — instead of learning other global languages and other skills/knowledge using our mother tongues as a bridge; we are sometimes ashamed to speak our own languages like they were a badge of dishonor, an indication of lack of intelligence or social decorum, etc. Well, pause a while and think about the serious implications of losing a language — the following article is rich food for thought. — Joe Padre]
By Russ Rymer
One language dies every 14 days. By the next century nearly half of the roughly 7,000 languages spoken on Earth will likely disappear, as communities abandon native tongues in favor of English, Mandarin, or Spanish. What is lost when a language goes silent?
Tuvan: The Compassion of Khoj Özeeri
One morning in early fall Andrei Mongush and his parents began preparations for supper, selecting a black-faced, fat-tailed sheep from their flock and rolling it onto its back on a tarp outside their livestock paddock. The Mongush family’s home is on the Siberian taiga, at the edge of the endless steppes, just over the horizon from Kyzyl, the capital of the Republic of Tuva, in the Russian Federation. They live near the geographic center of Asia, but linguistically and personally, the family inhabits a borderland, the frontier between progress and tradition. Tuvans are historically nomadic herders, moving their aal—an encampment of yurts—and their sheep and cows and reindeer from pasture to pasture as the seasons progress. The elder Mongushes, who have returned to their rural aal after working in the city, speak both Tuvan and Russian. Andrei and his wife also speak English, which they are teaching themselves with pieces of paper labeled in English pasted onto seemingly every object in their modern kitchen in Kyzyl. They work as musicians in the Tuvan National Orchestra, an ensemble that uses traditional Tuvan instruments and melodies in symphonic arrangements. Andrei is a master of the most characteristic Tuvan music form: throat singing, or khöömei.