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The Linguists

Are you ready for this? I think my high school AP English teacher just got an academic hard-on of some kind. I know, gross and graphic, but really, wait til you read this. Then you might too. I know I did.

Documentary: The Linguists

Yes! Just what every kid dreams of! Okay, just every kid who had two anthropologists as parents (yes, that would be me).

Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, this is a documentary about two social scientists who run around the globe documenting the world’s languages, specifically those on the verge of extinction. David Harrison and Gregory Anderson, in a race against time, try to capture a bit of world culture that is almost daily becoming extinct. Social scientists estimate that a world language goes extinct every 2 weeks! This is anthropology and linguistics and the entire field of social sciences at its marketable best – not every aspect of Social Science is this easily dramatized, but I find it all equally compelling. And to give these guys credit, though I haven’t seen the film myself, I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that they’re not trying to exploit the people they work with, so much as raise awareness this issue exists. I’m completely fascinated by this, and can’t wait to see it.

an’t even begin to tell you how bummed I am that I missed seeing the documentary when it was airing on WGBY sometime in the last few weeks! I don’t think it was the entire documentary, I think they took out a portion of it and turned it into a mini show, but still!

The documentary costs $300 plus shipping to actually purchase, NetFlix doesn’t have it, and my local indie video store doesn’t own it. I’m determined to see this and will now begin canvassing my former Anthro profs to see if anyone has a copy, knows how to get a copy, or possibly taped the PBS segment and will let me borrow it.

Anyone else interested?
Anyone else, besides that English teacher who made his entire class watch the 9-part (in other words 9-hour) 1986 BBC series entitled “The Story of English” all about the history of the English language (which, yes, okay, I admit it, I secretly found equally fascinating), and myself, excited about this?
Incidentally, I found an old NY Times article about “The Story of English,” so in case you’re interested, check that article out here. I may have to find those movies to rent and have viewing parties, just like we did in high school. Oh yeah, I was cool. Totally fly. Just like I am now. For realz.


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One thought on “The Linguists

  1. I beleive that although there are at least 7,000 languages throughout the World, and an increasing number are endangered through the linguistic imperialism of both Mandarin Chinese and English.The following declaration was made in favour of Esperanto, by UNESCO at its Paris HQ in December 2008. commitment to the campaign to save endangered languages was made, by the World Esperanto Association at the United Nations' Geneva HQ in September. or

    Posted by Brian Barker | March 22, 2009, 10:01 am

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