Wednesday, December 2, 2009


quotes from

Wade Davis: On Endangered Cultures TED Talks

when you click the link above: below left of screen are subtitle options for 24 languages; above right click to open transcript.

Their (the Waorani) hunters could smell animal urine at 40 paces and tell you what species left it behind.

When each of you in this room were born, there were 6,000 languages spoken on the planet. Now, a language is not just a body of vocabulary or a set of grammatical rules. A language is a flash of the human spirit. It's a vehicle through which the soul of each particular culture comes into the material world. Every language is an old-growth forest of the mind, a watershed, a thought, an ecosystem of spiritual possibilities.

And of those 6,000 languages, as we sit here today in Monterrey, fully half are no longer being whispered into the ears of children. They're no longer being taught to babies, which means, effectively, unless something changes, they're already dead. What could be more lonely than to be enveloped in silence, to be the last of your people to speak your language, to have no way to pass on the wisdom of the ancestors or anticipate the promise of the children? And yet, that dreadful fate is indeed the plight of somebody somewhere on Earth roughly every two weeks, because every two weeks, some elder dies and carries with him into the grave the last syllables of an ancient tongue.

thanks to WonderMonger Michael for passing this along

Illustration Art Hands series Lura Astor