the linguists

social and cultural geography, subtle technologies — By on May 7, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Subtle Technologies Film Screening

K. David Harrison
National Geographic Society and Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages

This is a screening of the documentary film “The Linguists” followed by a Q and A with David Harrison , one of the linguists in the film.


The Linguists is an independent 2008 American documentary film about language extinction and language documentation. It follows two linguists, Greg Anderson of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages and David Harrison of Swarthmore College, as they travel around the world to collect recordings of some of the last speakers of three dying languages: Chulym in Siberia; Sora in Orissa, India; and Kallawaya in Bolivia.

In 2008, the first film funded by National Science Foundation ever to premiere at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival (“The talk of the town at Sundance,” proclaimed Reuters), The Linguists went on to win top honors and screen at hundreds of film festivals around the world. Ethnographers David Harrison and Greg Anderson mix passion with undergraduate humor in their serious work traveling the globe to record near-extinct languages before they’re gone.” Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times dubbed The Linguists “a fascinating journey with two men who are the Indiana Joneses of language hunters.”


K. David Harrison is a linguist and leading specialist in the study of endangered languages. He has done extensive fieldwork in Siberia, Mongolia, Bolivia, India and the US. In his book, “When Languages Die: The Extinction of the World’s Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge,” Harrison provides a vivid picture of the scientific consequences of language loss. He also depicts the human factor, including moving accounts of his encounters with last speakers in remote corners of the globe. Harrison co-stars in the documentary film “The Linguists”.

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