David Harrison and Greg Anderson are language activists. They’re both linguists who’ve been funded by National Geographic to travel the world and document and raise awareness of some of the world’s most endangered languages, part of a project called Enduring Voices. Their journey is documented in a brand new book by David called The Last Speakers. They’re also co-stars of a documentary called The Linguists.
Recently they’ve been in the news for their discovery, along with Ganesh Murmu of Ranchi University, of a new language in Arunachal Pradesh. NPR reports:
In 2008, K. David Harrison traveled to Arunachal Pradesh, India, a northeast region so remote even Indians need permits to travel there — and he made an incredible discovery.
The Swarthmore College linguist and his colleague Greg Anderson were searching for speakers of two little-known languages — Aka and Miji. And as they went door to door, they were surprised to find speakers of a third, hidden language: Koro.
“It hadn’t previously been noticed in the Indian census or in any study of the languages of India,” Harrison tells NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly. “It wasn’t listed in any listing of the world’s languages. It had basically been completely unnoticed by outsiders and by scientists.”
Listen to the story. You can hear clips from the languages. And when else will you ever hear hip hop in Aka?