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How Translation is Helping Languages from Going Extinct

There are over 7,000 thousand languages in the world today and more than 3,000 of those languages are in danger of becoming extinct. Most disappear when the last known native speaker dies. One example is Hazel Sampson, the last native speaker of the Klallam Native American tribe, who passed away this year at the age of 103. Or when younger generations have difficulty preserving their native language, when the country’s official language is used instead.   This is evident with the Kula language of Indonesia, a language only spoken but not written by the elders of the island of Alor that is on the brink of vanishing.

How important is it to fight for the preservation of language? When a language dies, a culture dies with it. Linguists estimate that by the end of the century those 3,000 languages will be gone. How does a dying language get preserved in a globalized world? Linguists are now documenting these languages through translation as a means to preserve them for the future.

For instance, in 2010 a woman by the name of Boa Sr, the last native speaker of the Bo language, passed away. Bo is one of the Great Andamanese languages which, with her death, went extinct. In 2005 a professor at the University of New Delhi preserved the language. The professor documented not only her language but also her cultural, ecological and historical knowledge. This extinct language is now accessible for future generations through a comprehensive archive of digitalized audio, visual and text documents. In Mexico linguists have also had success preserving indigenous languages through data transcription and analysis.

Translation of these languages, especially those only spoken, is crucial in helping preserve these languages.  At Trusted Translations communication and comprehension of translated documents is the core of our business. A good motivation for our team is to know that translation is also an important factor in helping preserve languages on the verge of extinction. We invite you to fill out this on-line form and we’ll put together a free quote for you.