Monday, February 23, 2009

“The Linguists” to air this week on PBS (Week of Feb. 23)

By Michael Conner, AATIA

Scientists estimate that of 7,000 languages in the world, half will be gone by the end of this century. On average, one language disappears every two weeks.

“The Linguists” follows David Harrison and Gregory Anderson, scientists racing to document languages on the verge of extinction. Their journey takes them deep into the heart of the cultures, knowledge and communities at stake.

In Siberia, Harrison and Anderson seek to record the Chulym language, which hasn’t been heard by outsiders for more than 30 years. The linguists encounter remnants of the racist Soviet regime that may have silenced Chulym for good.

In India, tribal children attend boarding schools, where they learn Hindi and English, a trade, and the pointlessness of their native tongues. Similar boarding schools for tribal children existed in the US through most of the 20th century. Harrison and Anderson travel to the children’s villages, where economic unrest has stirred a violent Maoist insurgency. The linguists witness the fear and poverty that have driven youth from their native communities.

In Bolivia, the Kallawaya language has survived for centuries with fewer than 100 speakers. The linguists trek high into the Andes to unlock its secret.

The Linguists preview (trailer)

This PBS show apparently airs in Lawrence this Thursday, Feb. 26 at 9:00 PM. Check your local PBS listings for exact date and time in your area.


Dennis King said...

Aargh. I was in L.A. and missed it. Should I wait with squirmy anticipation for the DVD release, or was the focus so "popular" as to be superficial?

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Aritul said...


How are you? I just discovered your blog? Are you still updating it or has it fallen into disuse?

Dave said...

Well, it hasn't been updated for a while, but I hope to get back to posting again soon. Thanks for asking.