K. David Harrison

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It is estimated that in this century, more than half of the world’s languages may disappear. As co-founder and director of research at the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, David Harrison leads language revitalization projects in an effort to preserve the dying and disappearing languages of the world. Working with National Geographic, he conducts scientific expeditions to map global linguistic diversity found in “language hotspots”. He is passionate about training indigenous community members to document and sustain their own languages. Harrison is an associate professor of Linguistics at Swarthmore College and the author of the new book When Languages Die: The Extinction of the World’s Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge. He was recently featured in the documentary The Linguists, which followed his hands-on linguistic fieldwork in Siberia, India and Bolivia. David considers the preservation and revitalization of languages the “greatest conservation challenge of our time…the loss to science, to humanity and to the native communities themselves will be catastrophic.”
  • Speaker PopTech 2008

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