Who Needs Rare Languages? You Might

Just like ice caps, once rare languages melt away, there's no getting them back.

You may think that rare languages are the province of a few eccentric linguistics professors and that they have no relevance for anybody else, or that there's no more reason to study or preserve them than to learn Klingon. 

When rare languages disappear (which is happening at a quick pace in our ever globalizing world) they take with them the culture and unique knowledge associated with them.  As K. David Harrison, a linguistics professor, explained in an interview with The Economist, wisdom such as "the secrets of how to live sustainably in challenging environments like the Arctic or the Andean Altiplano" can be lost as languages vanish.  In a world where sustainable living is becoming ever more of a priority, expert knowledge on the topic is not something to let slip away.

Another environmental concern on many people's minds, the melting of polar ice, might be aided by one rare language group, the Yupik people who live in the Arctic.  Professor Harrison says, "Their climate science astounds with its precision, predictive power, and depth of observation.  Modern climate scientists have much to learn from it."

Rare languages are one of Translation by Design's specialties.  Translating these languages, many of which are in danger of becoming extinct, is one way in which their traditions and understanding can be preserved. 

Harrison describes letting languages disappear as akin to destroying ancient historical buildings in order to build modern ones.  "We should be similarly appalled when languages—monuments to human genius far more ancient and complex than anything we have built with our hands—erode."