Living Tongues: Building translation communities to share culture with other parts of the world – Viki for linguistic diversity

Rose Eveleth, The Atlantic,

An online-media company has teamed up with linguists to preserve endangered tongues. […]

Viki has teamed up with the the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages to encourage those who speak endangered languages to contribute their own translations of the shows. They’re currently adding projects for everything from Cherokee, a language spoken by about 18,000 people in the southeastern United States to Maori, a language spoken in New Zealand by about 60,000. The most popular endangered language on the site is Basque, spoken by about 720,000 people in the Basque region on the border between Spain and France.

Viki wasn’t designed as a safe haven for endangered languages. The company’s goal when it launched in 2010 was to build translation communities, and have them share culture from other parts of the world. “We’re opening up the world,” Viki’s CEO Razmig Hovaghimian told me. “Not only the content travels, but the language, the nuance, the culture is suddenly crossing borders.”

And in fact, the site has seen some interesting trends when it comes to who watches and translates what. […]

David Harrison, a linguist at Swarthmore University and the director of research for the Living Tongues Institute, thinks partnering with Viki is an effective way to bring languages like Udmurt to younger people. “Suddenly you have something that isn’t a dry textbook or a grammar lesson,” he says. “Seeing it on TV or on the Internet helps them see that it’s not backwards or obsolete, it’s suited for the modern world. They can restore their pride in the language, which is really the X factor that causes language to be abandoned.”

But there are still a number of challenges associated with this kind of preservation. Some communities in which endangered languages are spoken don’t have access to reliable Internet, which makes it hard for them to participate. A full two-thirds of the world’s languages don’t have a written form, Harrison says, which makes subtitling difficult. And translation is hard work—it takes hours and hours to translate a single episode of a television show. Shklyaev has assembled a dedicated team of volunteers, but finding people who are willing or able to put the time in can be difficult.

Still, Harrison believes in the work groups like Viki are doing. […]

“Everybody knows that we benefit from biodiversity and we’ll suffer if we lose it. It’s not clear to people why that’s true for linguistic diversity.” […]

Source: Saving Languages Through Korean Soap Operas – The Atlantic
Address :
Date Visited: Mon Sep 29 2014 11:39:10 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Related posts