science | April 04, 2012

Jared Diamond: The Internet Destroys (& Saves) Endangered Languages

At a recent keynote, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond warned that 6,800 of the world’s 7,000 languages are expected to go extinct in under 100 years—and technology is playing a big role in both their extinction and preservation. MediaBistro posted a short piece on the talk, highlighting choice insights from “L.A's favorite geography and philosophy professor with a wicked Boston accent.” Here's Diamond:

The language of the Internet is English. And that is absolutely contributing to the disappearance of languages. On the other hand, modern technology allows linguists to capture and store endangered languages. If a language were to cease to be spoken, all it would take is a capable linguist and some curious youth looking to recapture a piece of their cultural identity and the language could be restored.

A few months ago, Jared Diamond also spoke about the role of language with The Lavin Agency, at our Toronto offices. In the exclusive Lavin video above, he discusses why knowing multiple languages—and Diamond knows at least ten—is good for your mental health, especially as you get older. In his talks, Diamond tackles the giant questions on how civilizations prosper or fail—whether these questions revolve around language, human rights, business, or technology. His ideas explore the underlying forces shaping our society.

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economics | April 03, 2012