Experts to begin cataloging endangered languages

Salt Lake City, Utah (AP) 11-09

Some of the world’s experts on endangered languages are meeting at the University of Utah to get started on a huge catalog and comprehensive database project on endangered and dying languages.

Eastern Michigan University language professor Anthony Aristar says language is more than words and grammar. It is, he says, a web of history that binds people through generations.

In the last 500 years, half the world’s languages have become extinct. And in the next 100 years linguists predict nearly 90 percent of the 7,000 languages could die out. Linguists are hoping to limit that to 35 percent to 50 percent.

Director of the U’s Center for American Indian Languages Lyle Campbell says the loss of language is also the loss of knowledge.

The meeting in Salt Lake City concludes this weekend.