The Chicago Tribune has featured Lenore Grenoble, the Carl Darling Buck Professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and an expert linguist. The Tribune‘s article, entitled “Saving world’s words,” describes Prof. Grenoble’s quest to preserve endangered languages, and with them the culture and history of their native speakers. From the article:
“When the language is in trouble there are all kinds of other things in trouble, so that’s the canary in the coal mine,” [Grenoble] said.
Grenoble traveled to Greenland earlier this month because the country is one of the few places on the planet where the local language is strengthening despite having a limited number of speakers. Grenoble hopes that the secrets to the Greenlandic language’s success will help other native tongues, especially those that face extinction.
The United Nations estimates that half of the 6,700 languages spoken today are in danger of disappearing before the century ends.
“If you’re living in a northern environment and you’re subsisting on some part on the environment, everything is changing,” said professor Ross Virginia, director of the Institute of Arctic Studies at Dartmouth College.
“What’s cutting edge about [Grenoble's] work is the recognition of that and her willingness to get into these northern environments and try to understand the nature of change.”
See the full Chicago Tribune article here.