This Week in Language News, June 27, 2012

We have been writing a lot in past weeks about languages on the verge of extinction. This week, these languages received a boost on the most precious piece of Internet real estate one could possibly imagine: a link on Google’s homepage.

The Web powerhouse has launched the Endangered Languages Project, an endeavor to support, teach and protect languages from disappearing.

Google is billing the project as “the world through 3054 lenses” and aims to prevent the loss of scientific knowledge, cultural heritage and general information that accompanies the end of a language.

Featured on the website this week is Koro, “a language previously unknown to science that was documented in the mountains of northeast India. It is spoken by no more than 4000 people.”

EU Vey!

As if the struggling monetary union and the rise of nationalism were not enough, a study by the European Commission found that only 42 percent of teenagers within the 27-nation EU are conversant in a foreign language.

According to the BBC, Sweden holds the honors for being the most adept at learning a language; 82 percent of Swedish teens are fluent in a second language; Malta, the Netherlands, Estonia and Slovenia also faired well.

England, France, Belgium, Poland and Spain were at the bottom of the list.

My Dog’s Southern Accent

Have you wondered if animals of the same species speak the same language despite geographical distances? I certainly have, and researchers the Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania certainly have as well.

And the answer is, yes, they can, according to a report in The Washington Post.

Research suggests that the overwhelming majority of animals are born knowing how to speak their species’s language. It doesn’t really matter where those animals are born or raised, because their speech seems to be mostly imprinted in their genetic code

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