In Oklahoma last week, Emily Johnson Dickerson passed away at the age of 93. She was the last monolingual Chickasaw speaker. The number of fluent Chickasaw speakers has been in decline since the 1960s. According to a NPR report there are now only 65 fluent Chickasaw speakers.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization estimates that by 2100, half of the more than 6,000 languages spoken on the planet will disappear. What does this mean for cultures around the globe?
The wide reach of the internet has often influenced speakers of indigenous and minority languages to focus on more dominant languages, since most content is in major languages. Increasingly, the internet, social media, and other technologies have become resources for indigenous language speakers to preserve their language.
Communities are creating online dictionaries. Apps such as FirstVoices Chat, allow users to download keyboards so they can communicate online in indigenous languages. Social media sites like twitter allow speakers and those who wish to speak to connect.
How has social media changed the way people use indigenous languages? Will technology be enough to actually save dying languages, or will it create more of an archive of language?
Gregory D.S. Anderson, Ph.D., Founder and Director of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages
Kevin Patrick Scannell, Professor of computational lingusitics at St. Louis University and creator of Indigenoustweets.com