Stop, revive, survive: a call to protect our languages

Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann

Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann
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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A worldwide movement to revive extinct and endangered languages will be the focus of a University of Adelaide public seminar next Tuesday 10 April.

Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann, a world-renowned linguist and Australia's first Chair of Endangered Languages, will argue why it is so important to keep global languages alive - up to 90% of which are predicted to disappear by 2100.

His talk, 'Nother Tongue, will be the third public lecture in the 2012 program of the University of Adelaide's highly successful Research Tuesdays series.

"With globalisation comes a loss of cultural identity, including heritage languages, and this is causing a lot of stress to people in many countries around the world," Professor Zuckermann says.

It has resulted in the emergence of language revival movements, encouraged by the success of Revived Hebrew or "Israeli", with other major projects including Hawaiian, Manx and Kaurna, a South Australian Aboriginal language.

Professor Zuckermann, who holds doctorates from Oxford and Cambridge universities, is establishing a new scientific field called Revival Linguistics and has vowed to make Adelaide a world centre for language reclamation.

"From an Australian perspective, it is critical on a number of fronts that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sleeping tongues are revived or preserved.

"These fascinating, complex languages provide a sense of identity for Indigenous people, reflecting a close interaction with their land, heritage and history. Reviving their language is empowering and gives them a strong sense of pride and purpose. We ought to promote language rights and Native Tongue Title."

A native speaker of Revived Hebrew and fluent in 10 other languages, Professor Zuckermann is internationally renowned for his groundbreaking, provocative approach to language revival.

"I don't think we should be rigid about languages. They are forever changing and evolving and are the result of cross-fertilisation of numerous lects and languages."

Professor Zuckermann has taught at universities in the United Kingdom, United States, China, Israel, Singapore, Slovakia and Australia. He has also been a senior research fellow in Italy and Japan.

He has appeared on BBC Two Fry's Planet Word series hosted by Stephen Fry. To listen, click here

WHAT: Research Tuesdays public seminar, 'Nother Tongue by Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann
WHEN: Tuesday 10 April, 2012, 5.30pm
WHERE: Napier 102, North Terrace Campus


Contact Details

Professor Ghil'ad Zuckermann
Professor of Linguistics and Endangered Languages
School of Humanities
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5247
Mobile: +61 (0)423 901 808

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762