We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Digital Technology Preserving Living Languages
The good news is that we have the
capacity to preserve a voice record and dictionary of any language ever used
and still available today however briefly.That is good and it will always be of great interest to those descended
from those groups and language scholars generally.
Yet the global reality is that we
are evolving into one key spoken language however we chose to fight it.Every other language group is finding a lack
of English language skills a clear hindrance in properly connecting outside their
own language group.This places incessant
pressure on such groups to strengthen English training as well as actively
supporting their own cultural imperatives.
Thus we are progressing to a
primary language protocol in the universal language of English and an
educational language which may well be one’s native language as the secondary
language.The real pressure for this is
coming from the capacity of English to be the first coiner of new words as
needed in an expanding knowledge base.That in combination with the wonderful alphabet we have and the force is
Presently, the majority of Europeans
and plausibly the majority of even Chinese and Indians can generally use
English well enough to obtain meaning out of a text.Not great, but that is important.I can glom meaning from a French text with a dictionary
on hand and perhaps somewhat with German.It is not great, and I certainly do not pretend to think that I could
speak either, but the material is not necessarily out of ready reach if I desire
to read it.I think most folks are in
the same place with school taught second languages.
My point though is that the
incentive has never been greater to master English globally and that incentive
increases every day.Thus English
through various accidents of history will become a universal language and all
other languages will sooner or later simply become semi dormant with little
growth in words except as loan words out of English.
Digital technologies reversing extinction of languages
Digital technologies are the new life-savers for languages on the verge
of extinction, linguists said Friday as they announced eight newdictionaries at
a major science conference in Vancouver.
"We're turning the digital divide into a digital
opportunity," said David Harrison, a National Geographic Fellow at SwarthmoreCollege
More than half of some 7,000 languages alive today were considered on
the verge of extinction within a century, "threatened by cultural changes,
ethnic shame, government repression and other factors," the scientists
said in a paper.
But use of technologies, even by peoples without writtenlanguages,
"is a heartening trend," said Harrison.
"Language extinction is not an inevitability."
"Using social media, Youtube, text messaging, to expand their
voice, expand their presence (is) the flip side of globalization," said Harrison.
"You can have a language spoken by only 50 or 500 people, only in
one location, and now through digital technology that language can achieve a
Languages matter, said Harrison,
because linguists and other researchers "gain immense insight into human
cognition, botany, pharmacology. All disciplines of scientific inquiry are
Linguist Margaret Noori said languages are a gateway to so-called
traditional knowledge. For example, an Ojibwe term for wetlands, translated as
"'where the land bleeds,' shows a different way of understanding the
science of a place," she told reporters.
Noori said that in North America's Great Lakes region, apps for
iPhones, a Facebook page, online lessons and a web site with dictionaries and
songs are keeping alive the aboriginal Anishinaabemowin language.
Noori said new estimates show just 5,000 people in North America speak
Anishinaabemowin, once the mother tongue of
200 aboriginal nations, known as tribes or bands.
Before laws changed in the US
the language was almost eradicated by official government policies, including
placing aboriginal children in church or state-run residential schools.
Noori, a professor at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, whose activist
aboriginal parents raised her to speak her ancestral language, said the written
goal of residential schools was
to "kill the Indian to save the man."
She recalled being a child watching police raids of traditional drum
circles and religious celebrations during America's turbulent civil rights
movements of the 1960s and 1970s, when police cracked down on the political
American Indian movement.
Now schools and area universities are using digital technology to
promote Anishinaabemowin, with a web site, http://www.umich.edu/~ojibwe/ that
includes traditional poems put to music, the informal anthem of the American
Indian movement, and a translation into the
language of a candy ad shown during the US Superbowl football game and
translated lyrics by pop stars.
She said she sees the change in her own household.
"I told my daughter 'you can't have an iPhone unless you text me
in the App,'" Noori quipped.
Harrison released eight new "talking" dictionaries of
languages at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in
The dictionaries include Matukar Panau, an Oceanic language spoken by
just 600 people in Papua New Guinea; Chamacoco, spoken by some 1,200 people in
northern Paraguay; the Indian languages Remo, Sora and Ho; and Tuvan, used by
nomads in Siberia and Mongolia; and a Celtic-tongue dictionary.
The talking dictionaries are produced by National Geographic's Enduring
Voices project and
the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages.