Redirecting the Spotlight

Redirecting the Spotlight

Dr. Susan Malone does not like to talk about herself. Not, she says, when “there are too many much more important things to talk about, such as the children in non-dominant language communities who are discriminated against in formal education systems.”

The strength of an organization is always its people, and SIL LEAD’s strength comes from the fact that its staff and associates always seem to insist on shining the spotlight away from themselves and onto the people with whom they work. In a world grown obsessed with the ephemera of fame, it is good to be reminded that everyone has a voice worth hearing, and that all too often some voices are silenced—either intentionally, or by failing to listen…

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Lepidopteras and Languages

Lepidopteras and Languages

Have you heard that the monarch butterfly population of California­­ is on the brink of collapse?

Even if you’ve never been to California to observe the monarchs, most of us have seen this iconic species on nature shows and in magazines, and have marveled at their seemingly endless numbers. But in the last few decades the population in California has plummeted from well over four million to just over twenty eight thousand, and scientists are predicting that without a dedicated effort toward their preservation, these delicate beauties could disappear from the planet forever….

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Bloom in Kenya - A Teacher’s Story

Bloom in Kenya - A Teacher’s Story

Wawerũ Mwangi is a high school teacher who lives and works in Naiyasha, Kenya. He’s a linguist by training and has written numerous high school textbooks, as well as vernacular texts for primary schools and a teacher’s guide in the Kikuyu language, which have been approved by the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

All this would be quite enough to keep anyone busy, but Mr. Mwangi also loves to write stories…

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You Are Not Your Limitations

You Are Not Your Limitations

Chances are good that if you don’t deal with significant physical disability on a regular basis—whether your own or that of someone you care about—you rarely, if ever, think about all the amazing capabilities that your more normally-abled body affords. This is perfectly understandable. We all live our own lives, and it’s usually only in the face of jarring change or loss that we pause to reflect on what we have, or in some cases had. It can be tempting, then, to view occasional encounters with the disabled as though they somehow exist for us—as though their challenges were nothing more than a reminder of our health…

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2019: The International Year of Indigenous Languages

2019: The International Year of Indigenous Languages

Did you know that more than half of the world’s population speaks a total of only twenty three languages?

That, coupled with modern technology, means global communication has never been easier. It also means, unfortunately, that those extra-popular languages can turn into something of a cultural tsunami, threatening to drown out the more than seven thousand other languages that are spoken in the world today…

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When Literacy Saves Lives

When Literacy Saves Lives

As a specialized area of study, linguistics pretty much never makes global news. But there are times when events that take on global importance have a vital linguistic element to them. Such is the case with the recent tragic death of 7-year-old Jakelin Caal when she was being held in U.S. custody at the border last month.

On a radio segment of FRESH AIR, hosted on NPR by Terry Gross, linguist Geoff Nunberg helped Gross to understand the communication breakdowns that sometimes happen at the border…

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