"Scientist at Work: Tucker Childs - Linguist’s Preservation Kit Has New Digital Tools"
By CHRIS NICHOLSON
Published: July 27, 2009
The New York Times
This must-read article by Chris Nicholson opens this way:
"TEI, Sierra Leone — Jogue, yipe, simoi are three short words for foods in Kim, a language in Sierra Leone that Tucker Childs has been trying, for the past three years, to write down, record and understand.
"Kim is a dying language, and Dr. Childs a field linguist. From his base here in Tei, a small fishing village on the Waanje River, he canoes up the narrow waterways that cut across the river’s floodplain, and hikes a few miles inland, to where the last Kim communities remain. Based on recordings taken there, he has devised an alphabet and compiled a dictionary and is finishing a book on the grammar.
"Africa has about 2,000 of the world’s 6,000 languages. Many are still unwritten, some have yet to be named and many will probably disappear..."
Nicholson writes that today's linguists, using new digital tools, compile language documentation "includ(ing) audio recordings of conversations and folktales, videos of songs and dances, and text transcriptions."
Click here to read the entire article on the New York Times On The Web.