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Get Beyond Babel
Transcript of Get Beyond Babel
Madeline and Jessica
About Ken Wiwa
Every language has a chance of dying out over time. For any language to survive through years of societal changes, it must be adapted so it can be used to embrace other cultures, new technology and new perspectives. When the users of a language refuse to let their language evolve, they bring it much closer to its extinction.
"According to figures released by the Worldwatch Institute, half of the world's 6800 languages face annihilation; that's because they are spoken by fewer than 2500 people."
Ken Wiwa, a journalist writer and
public official was born in Nigeria in
1968. He is the son of Ken Saro-Wiwa
Sr. and moved from Lagos, Nigeria to
Canada in 1999 when he was 31. He is
a resident of Nigeria and works as
special assistant to the president. Ken works out peace keeping, conflict resolution and reconciliation. He used to work for the Globe and Mail as a columnist and occasionally writes for the paper now. Ken was also named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2005. He has been the producer of multiple documentaries in Britain and for CBC.
His first book was titled In the Shadow of a Saint which was a memoir.
c) Rhetorical Question
A statistic is numerical data used by an author to prove a point. Ken Wiwa uses this statistic to show just how many language are actually at risk of being lost. Having data from a credible source is more valuable than an author simply stating their argument.
"Lurking in reaction to this news, I suspect, is the fear that we will end up speaking English in a monocultural flatland called Disney"
a) Rhetorical Question
b) Card Stacking
What is the Tower
The Tower of Babel is the name given to the biblical story of the creation of languages. In the story a city full of people who all speak the same language decide to build a tower in hopes that they can build it so high that they reach heaven. This angers God, because the people are attempting to cheat their way into heaven, and gain power over others. To stop the building of the tower God makes the citizens all speak different languages. As they can no longer communicate, the tower cannot be built and the people separate and move to different places.
Words taken from one language that are used directly, or modified slightly to be used in other languages are known as loanwords. The English language has adopted tons of words from dead languages, as mentioned in Ken Wiwa's essay, as well as words from languages that are still use today.
"The young, the energetic, and the ambitious have no option but to leave in search of better opportunities [. . .] In the eastern villages we speak a different dialect from the villages on the western fringes."
"When an old man dies it is like a library has been burned down."
Do you believe that the Academie Francaise has a valid purpose when trying to keep the French language in its' current state? Will their work help to maintain their French culture, or will it cause the language to become too outdated to be used?
Do you think that it is in the world's best interest to make a effort to conserve diminishing languages, or should these languages be left to die out in their natural course? Why?
In the Clip "A Giant Staircase To Heaven" the narrator mentions how in the beginning, everyone spoke only one language, In your opinion, do you think that it would be beneficial or disadvantageous for the entire population to speak one universal language? Would this depend on if people had always spoken the same language or if the world evolved to have a single language?
In your opinion, do you think that in the distant future minority languages will eventually fizzle out all together or do you believe that most minority tongues will evolve and be reformed into new dialects and other new languages? What factors do you think play an important role in this?
A simile is a comparison that uses the word 'like' or 'as'. In this case the author compares the death of an old man to a library being burnt down because of the amount of knowledge that the books in the library and the man both carried. This is meant to tie in with the idea that cultural traditions need to be passed down form generation to generation, or else they die out.
This quote is obviously a reference to the animation company Disney. Disney can relate to the monocultural world Ken believes people fear for multiple reasons. This could be because of the similarities between so many Disney films, which have a fairy-tale based plots and endings that are a little too good to be true. In short so happy and balanced that it can become plain and boring.
d) Card Stacking
Ken Wiwa uses a short story about how the Ogoni languages have started to diminish, but also how he came to have his current point of view. It wasn't until after he tried desperately to preserve his culture by preserving the languages used by Ogoni people that he realized he could let his culture live on by letting it change. Seeing how the evolution of languages directly affects Wiwa allows us to understand his point of view and works as real life evidence of how others are affected.
Words from Dead Languages
Adaptability is the key to a languages survival. As people face changes, they adjust and learn to accept them, and their language should do the same. A culture is kept alive by its people, not the language they share their culture in. A language is a small piece of a culture, but not the whole.
Words from Languages Still Used Today
Alligator, Ranch,Coyote, Guitar, Mustang Taco (Spanish)
Stripe, Sketch, Scum, Dollar, Uproar, Cookie, Cranberry, Waffle (Dutch, Flemish)
Check (Persian), Garage (French), Tea (Chinese), Noodle (German), Icon (Russian), Chess (Persian),
Broccoli (Italian), Giraffe (Arabic), Chic (French),
Check (Persian), Tea (Chinese), Noodle (German),