Disappearing and threatened languages with Dr. Anvita Abbi
“A language is a dialect with an army and navy.” – Max Weinreich
One language dies every 14 days. By 2100, nearly half of the 7,000 languages that are spoken on earth will have most likely disappeared. At the beginning of the 15th century, some 15,000 languages were in currency. With the dawning of the age of European expansion, more than half of those languages have disappeared as a result of wars, genocide, legal bans and sheer economic force. To lose a language is like losing biodiversity, a loss of resources that have been built up over millennia.
Noted linguist Prof. Anvita Abbi is the recipient of the prestigious Kenneth Hale Award for her outstanding lifetime contributions to the description and documentation of languages of India. Her most recent work is on the history of the Andamanese language, which goes back to pre-Neolithic times and now facing extinction due to the pressures of modernity. On her previous visit to Vancouver as the ICCR visiting scholar at SFU, Prof. Abbi taught a field linguistics course to help students acquire the tools to analyze, document and help preserve the Haida language. She worked closely with Haida elder Lawrence Bell, one of the last native Haida speakers of the Massett dialect in the world.
Prof. Abbi will be in conversation with Dr. Marianne Ignace, Director of SFU’s First Nations Language program, Haida elder Lawrence Bell, and Khelsilem, founder of Kwi Awt Stelmexw, Squamish language program. These visionarites will speak of the implications of the loss of language, metaphor, idiom and memory, and point to a real hope of language revival through the collaborative efforts of elders, emerging language speakers, and educational institutions.
This event is free, however registration is required.
ASL is available for this event!
This event has been made possible with the support of SFU Woodwards.