Sunday, November 8, 2015
Dictionary for a Dying Language
This 81-Year Old Wrote a Dictionary to Save Her Tribe's Dying Language
Even though it seems like the English language has pretty much given up on life, it’s more alive than ever as we add more and more words like “selfie” and “YOLO” to our vocabularies. But do you know that we are losing about one language spoken around the world to oblivion every two weeks?
According to the United Nations, there are almost 7,000 spoken languages in the world and, by the year 2100, we will have said goodbye to more than half of them. Here in America, the New York Times reports that more than 130 Native American languages are currently at risk and 74 of those languages are “critically endangered.”
One likely language to die out is that used by the Wukchumni tribe. Today, there are only about 200 Wukchumni members left, and only one of them can speak their language fluently — Marie Wilcox.
Fortunately, Marie is doing all she can to preserve her tribe’s language. She learned to use a computer so she can create a Wukchumni dictionary. Pecking away at her keyboard day and night, Marie worked for seven years to ensure that her culture will live on.
In the year 2100, when almost half of the languages in the world are lost, we will still have the Wukchumni language thanks to Marie Wilcox’s dedication.