Friday, June 19, 2009


About this talk (by TED)

With stunning photos and stories, National Geographic Explorer Wade Davis celebrates the extraordinary diversity of the world's indigenous cultures, which are disappearing from the planet at an alarming rate.

Read about the speaker:

To achieve enhanced comprehension and vocabulary consolidation, choose the English subtitles to appear on your screen by clicking on the phrase 'view subtitles' at the bottom of the video or visit the actual TED webpage and then click on the phrase 'open interactive transcript' which is at the top of the right-hand column of the page. As soon as you select and click on one sentence of the script, you will hear the speaker pronouncing it.

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Extract from the talk:

When each of you in this room were born, there were 6,000 languages spoken on the planet. Now, a language is not just a body of vocabulary or a set of grammatical rules. A language is a flash of the human spirit. It's a vehicle through which the soul of each particular culture comes into the material world. Every language is an old-growth forest of the mind, a watershed, a thought, an ecosystem of spiritual possibilities.

And of those 6,000 languages, as we sit here today in Monterey, fully half are no longer being whispered into the ears of children. They're no longer being taught to babies, which means, effectively, unless something changes, they're already dead. What could be more lonely than to be enveloped in silence, to be the last of your people to speak your language, to have no way to pass on the wisdom of the ancestors or anticipate the promise of the children? And yet, that dreadful fate is indeed the plight of somebody somewhere on Earth roughly every two weeks, because every two weeks, some elder dies and carries with him into the grave the last syllables of an ancient tongue.

The speaker's conclusion:
...the central revelation of anthropology: that this world deserves to exist in a diverse way, that we can find a way to live in a truly multicultural pluralistic world where all of the wisdom of all peoples can contribute to our collective well-being.

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