Short Saturday: Voices of the Earth

I don’t know where I happened to stumble upon the Terralingua website—

Terralingua works to sustain the biocultural diversity of life—the world’s precious heritage of biological, cultural, and linguistic diversity—through an innovative program of research, education, policy-relevant work, and on-the-ground action.

—but I was impressed with their Voices of the Earth project, which documents the oral traditions of Indigenous Peoples around the globe:

We live in an increasingly homogenized world. The many Voices of the Earth—thousands of diverse human cultures and languages—are being overpowered by just a few dominant voices that have spread their reach across the planet. Instead of achieving a vibrant unity in diversity, we’re quickly sliding into a drab sameness without unity.

Indigenous languages and cultures, which represent the largest part of our human diversity, are especially under threat. Terralingua’s Index of Linguistic Diversity shows that, just in the last 40 years, there has been a decline of over 20% in the diversity of indigenous languages. Along with the languages, indigenous cultural traditions—many of them only transmitted in oral form—also are at risk. As indigenous languages fall silent, so does the ancestral wisdom stored in the oral traditions of the world’s Indigenous Peoples.

Of course, English is one of those dominant voices. But my reading—in English—includes translations from other languages, stories about other cultures … in other words, what makes reading interesting are the different voices.

The way things seem to be headed, we might soon all sound the same, which would be a tragedy. Read this article and follow the conversation here.

And enjoy your weekend. :)

Tweet: In 40 years, there’s been a 20+% decline in the diversity of indigenous languages.
Tweet: The Voices of the Earth project documents oral traditions of Indigenous Peoples worldwide.

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