Rymer R. (2012). Vanishing Voices. National Geographic, July 2012.
The writer started his article by describing a group of people called Tuvans, who lives in a remote area in the Republic of Tuva, in Russian Federation. The importance of this group came from the fact that they are speaking Tuvan, a language consider by linguists to be among a group of languages that are considered to be on the edge of extinction because of the low numbers of people that speak it. The earth population speak approximately 7000 languages. Tuvan is among the 3500 small languages that are spoken only by 8.25 million people in the entire world, which is a very low fraction of the seven billion people who inhabit the earth. On the other hand, seventy eight percent of the earth population are speaking only 85 languages, Mandarin, Spanish, and English are among the top spoken languages on the globe. Linguist predicted that in the next century almost half of the spoken languages may vanish, and at this point more than 1000 languages are considered on the extinction. The writer mentioned the reasons that lead to this languages dilemma. He mentioned the effect of the dominant languages, that controls communications and commerce, on the small one that do not have any defense mechanism, like television or currency, to protect its existence. Because of that the people of Tuva must speak Russian or Chinese if they want to stay in contact with the outside world. The writer then mentioned another endangered languages known as AKA, the native language of AKA people in Plaizi a small village in India. The writer describe its people as a very self-dependent people that produce everything they need in their daily life. The AKA language was protected from outside influence because of the location of the village that makes it very difficult for outsiders to reach it. The authors then described two trends in the field of linguistics. The first one is based on the theory of Noam Chomsky who mentioned that all languages came from one single origin which is fixed in the human genes. The second trend is the increase interest in small endangered languages around the world, and how the field linguists are interested in idiosyncrasies that distinguish each language from the others and the cultural effects on it. There are 85 percent of the needs to be documented in order to understand it, and the main reason for this documentation comes from the fact that each language contains unique human experiences that reveals many aspects of life . The writer declared very important point regarding the loss of any language. His main idea was based on the fact that every language contains a valuable information about the culture and the knowledge that accumulated from generation to generation in this culture. The author gave us another example of vanishing languages which is the Cmiique Itiom, a language used by the Seri in Mexico and how their language contains the knowledge that is important for all humans. Cmiique Itiom managed to preserved its original form without any outside interference . The Seri managed to keep their language untouched mainly because their hostility to the outsiders. Even the modern commodities likes cars the Seri managed to bring it to their culture but they used for it a unique names that merged from their own language so they never used there Spanish names. The writer mentioned a way to preserved the vanishing languages which is to: “… enshrine it in writing and compile a dictionary.”. He gave an examples for linguists that worked in those kind of projects like David Harrison and Greg Anderson who compiled the first Tuvan- English dictionary. Also, Steve and Cathay Marlett who worked to finish Cmiique Itiom dictionary, but the writer mentioned very important point which is stated in page 86 : “But saving a language is not something linguists can accomplish, because salvation must come from within.”. The salvation must come from the people who are using this language by teaching it to the next generation, and also by using dictionaries and books to preserve it and keeping it active as long there is something to speak about it. Writer Choices
The writer starts his article by using a story as a hook for the readers, to grab their attention for the rest of the article, and he kept telling the readers different stories about the people he met during his travel. The writer also used creative language ,like figurative language which includes metaphor in many places in the article, and he also used compare and contrast in many other places . Numbers was used by the writers to support his main idea, he mentioned a specific numbers related to the languages in the first page. Visuals aid had been used by the writer to illustrate the subject of his article in a very professional way, yet it was very simple and effective, we can see that from the beautiful pictures for all the people that he met during his trip. Reflection on the Reading Process
I found the article hard to read at the beginning, but after using SQ4R and reading the article in class for many times it became much easier for me to understand, and this make the whole process of reading very interesting. The language used not always clear, with difficult word as shown below: Nomadic: roaming about from place to place aimlessly, frequently, or without a fixed pattern of movement. Proselytize: to try to persuade people to join a religion, cause, or group. Dwindle: to gradually become smaller.
Thatch: to make (a roof) with dried plant material (called thatch). Supplant: to supersede (another) especially by force or treachery. Atelier: a room where an artist works.
Propitious: likely to have or produce good results.
Reading process included: Skimming and Skamming ,summarize the article and annotate the key points in it, and SQ4R.
Languages is the soul of human civilizations. The connection between the two of them is very similar to the relationship between human soul and body because without the sole the body will surely collapse because humans need their soul to drive the physical body and to keep him from perishing. In contrast, language plays the same role in people collective awareness about their on existence in the society and culture. Language is the invisible glue that hold the culture pieces together, and without this glue everything will collapse. It’s the strong foundation that up hold the society structures and grant it the strength to resist any outside threats. Why the language is so important? Because it’s the memory of the society. This memory is the experiences and knowledge that transferred from generation to generation until it reached this point in time, and no it will very hard to live without our memories. Losing any language would be similar to someone who lost his own memory. The only thing he can do is to embrace a new experiences and knowledge, and to start accumulating new memories about his new life. Unfortunately, it is the same thing for languages, when the people abandon their own language in favor for new ones they will lose their cultural experiences and knowledge. They will eventually lose their own identity that distinguished them from the rest of humans. Finally, losing any language on earth would be a lost for humanity in general because we will lose our diversity that make life on earth interesting .I think life with one color would be very tedious, and for life to be interesting it should contain whole spectrum of color.
One of the spinoff topics would be a to study the individuals that abandon their own language and how they adopt with their new languages and cultures.