Not only is Korean an increasingly popular choice of study as a foreign language, now South Korea is also promoting the use of the Hangul script to write languages other than Korean – that is according to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, AlertNet, the Language Museum Blog, the Language Log and many others. So, what’s the story? Backed by Ms Lee, a 75-year-old real estate millionaire, the Hunminjeongeum Society is on a mission to save small languages from extinction by giving them a written form. She has donated a large part of her fortune to this project and likes to think of herself as the linguistic equivalent to Médecins Sans Frontières. In that she is no different than a plethora of linguists and missionaries, mostly out of North America, who devote their efforts to saving endangered, dying and dead languages. I reported on one such project recently. How come the Hunminjeongeum Society is drawing so much media attention then? Instead of the Roman alphabet, they are proposing to use the Hangul script to bring literacy to the speakers of those endangered languages!
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- 200401 applied linguistics and educational linguistics
- 200405 language in culture and society (sociolinguistics)