"Endangered Languages, Endangered Cultures: Why Should We Care?" 

Dr. Tom Headland



There are 6,809 languages spoken in the world today. Most of these languages will die out by the end of the 21st century. So what? Who cares? Wouldn't humankind be better off if we all spoke the same language? Isn't it time these indigenous peoples around the world drop their local 'dialects' and 'get civilized'? Most people sharply disagree with the answers linguists and anthropologists give to these questions. Headland, an ecological anthropologist, has spent decades hiking the Philippine rainforests seeking out some of the tiniest language groups in the world, recording esoteric linguistic data, studying local folk knowledge of small preliterate tribal populations, documenting the physical demise of such groups, and lobbying for the human rights of these now-displaced peoples. In his presentation he will review his experiences in the field and propose answers to the above questions.