When people mention linguistics, there's always someone in the room who chirps, "That's, like, about languages, right?" It's a discipline that is, in the eyes of most people, associated with learning lots of languages. But that's just the tip of the metaphorical iceberg.
There are a lot of different ways to learn new tongues. A linguist can pick up languages in a classroom, at home, or in the field, which is what Greg Anderson and David Harrison are up to in The Linguists, a film presented by the Boise State University Linguistics Association and English Majors Association Friday, Feb. 15.
Anderson and Harrison travel around the world documenting rare, endangered and dying languages, mixing it up with the locals and drawing attention to a major linguistic crisis: There are 7,000 languages spoken in the world today and one disappears every two weeks. Half of them will be extinct by the year 2100.
The film lends immediacy to the social, political and economic reasons why scores of dialects and whole languages vanish every year. From political suppression of languages to the dominance of international languages like English, the reasons for the decline in linguistic variety are explored.
If the film raises some puzzling questions, don't fear: Anderson and Harrison will be on hand for a question-and-answer session following the film.