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Language death // was Gaelic things

From:Adrian Morgan <morg0072@...>
Date:Wednesday, July 10, 2002, 4:42
andrew wrote:

> I read a book by David Crystal recently that deduced statistically > speaking a language dies every couple of months. He concluded the book > with the observation that during its writing three languages should have > died.
What I find most concerning is where death of language is intimitely tied to the wellbeing of a people. The examples in /Why Warriors Lie Down And Die/ by Richard Trudgen show how Aboriginal people in northernmost Australia (among other places) don't have the knowledge they need to survive because on one hand English intellectual vocabulary and understanding (about health, disease, economics, law, etc) has not been translated to them in a culturally acceptable way (the book spends considerable time discussing what "culturally acceptable way" means) but on the other hand native intellectual vocabulary and understanding on the same topics, which is perfectly sophisticated, is being lost. To quote from the Executive Summary <> " Most Australians do not even understand that this communication crisis exists. In fact, many times it is dismissed as ‘humbug’ with statements like ‘The people should just learn English’ or ‘I can make them understand using English’. Unfortunately Yolngu do not think in English so they have difficulty communicating and constructing knowledge in English. In reality it is yet another war that Yol`u are being forced to fight— a war of words and misunderstandings. Poor communication leads to dangerous, life-threatening misunderstandings between medical professionals and the people. It turns education into a farce and makes economic development almost impossible. Everyday diseases and sickness are not understood by the Yolngu patients and sometimes even Yolngu health workers. This results in the Yolngu communities become more and more dependent on outside medical services as the confusion about new diseases and medical condition increase. Yolngu also find it impossible to comply with instructions that make little or almost no sense to them. This war of words leaves Yolngu casualties suffering from poor health and premature deaths. " Adrian.