Race Against the Clock to Save Dying Language

4:49 AM, Jan 9, 2013   |    comments
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DAKANUA, Taiwan (AP) - A race is on to save a dying language in Taiwan, the birthplace of one of the world's major language families.

Only 10 people still speak Kanakanavu (KAH-nuh-KAH-nuh-voo). It belongs to a language family that experts believe spread from Taiwan 4,000 years ago and gave birth to Austronesian languages spoken today by 400 million people.

Many of Taiwan's 14 government-recognized aboriginal languages are at risk of extinction. The youngest good speaker of Kanakanavu is 60, and the next youngest is 73.

Linguist Sung Li-may is working in the mountains of southern Taiwan to save Kanakanavu. The odds against her are long. She says: "To survive a language has to be spoken. And with this one it isn't happening."










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