November 11, 2005
Universal Translator Wanted
It’s been compared to the world’s largest amateur library, but one in which all of the books laying about on the floor rather than neatly shelved. However, say what you will about the lack of accuracy in Wikipedia concerning various topics, we should all applaud its efforts on behalf of endangered languages. One brief search under “Languages” and I was able to pull up information and links on over 808 different languages, from Afrikaans to Zuni. True, some of them were duplicates – Lakota was listed under “L” and also listed as a subset under “Sioux” – but I also found a listing for the currently-under-fire language of Neapolitano, including a brief description and 13 links for more information.
Anthropologists and linguists have been fighting a losing battle for years in their efforts to save endangered languages. As the world moves closer to globalization, individual peoples for the most part have had to learn second or even third languages in order to increase trade opportunities and communication. The internet itself is contributing to the extermination of languages because even though all of the major languages in the world are represented online, things are being conducted primarily in English.
Even as different peoples of the world get cozier with each other, they should also be able to celebrate their own uniqueness’ and to that end, Wikipedia is performing an invaluable service. Viva la Tower of Babel.