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Document Scanning Helps Preserve Endangered Languages

Author: Managed Outsource
by Managed Outsource
Posted: Oct 26, 2015

Document scanning and conversion is the key to preserving valuable historical artefacts like manuscripts, sculptures, photographs and other materials. These artefacts should be prevented from deterioration and kept safe for posterity. At present, many libraries, museums and various other organisations have started digitizing their documents and artefacts to prevent them from further damage. Reviving endangered languages through digitization of surviving records is a major requirement to prevent them from becoming extinct.

How Languages Become Extinct

With the advent of globalization people find it easier to communicate with each other across the world in English and other popular languages spoken by a large majority. Children are not being educated in languages spoken by a limited number of people. As fewer people use local languages, they gradually die out. Languages become extinct when a community finds itself under pressure to integrate with a larger or more powerful group. Sometimes people learn foreign languages in addition to their own. This will gradually lead to loss of ethnic and cultural identity of ancient languages. Languages like ancient Greek slowly evolved into modern Greek, and Latin into Italian, Spanish, French, and other languages. At least 3000 of the world’s 6000- 7000 languages are about to be lost. Preserving dying languages is important from the point of view of retaining their cultural and ethnic value for future generations.

Reviving "Sleeping" Languages Using Document Scanning

It is important to revive "sleeping" languages because of the sheer amount of linguistic diversity that is being lost. Document scanning of notes or manuscripts of the endangered language can help in creating full a record of it to educate future generations. Digital collections of linguistic materials enable researchers to piece dormant languages back together.

Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the Library of Congress and Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archives are scanning and digitizing Native American languages such as Myaamia that will make them much more accessible to language researchers and experts with a keen interest of reviving Native American languages. Near about 130 languages were documented for the Smithsonian from 1915- 1955. They are also encouraging children to learn their ancestral language.

This will help explore many different ancient languages and find various evidences of human understanding over the ages. Therefore document conversion and scanning of notes of endangered languages is important for preserving the past.

Advantages of Digitizing Endangered Language Records

  • Each endangered language embodies unique local knowledge of the culture and natural system in the region in which it is spoken. Digitization of these languages helps in preventing loss of cultural identity.
  • Enormous varieties of these dormant languages represent a large unmapped terrain which linguists, cognitive scientists and philosophers will find useful. Digitization enables us to know about ancient architecture, policies, law and so on.
  • Scanning and conversion of ancient records helps prevent loss of data and its decomposition. Thus we can educate the future generation about the value of these languages and thereby revive them.
  • Ancestral language notes that are recorded and stored safely can be accessed by researchers, scholars, students or common people from anywhere at any time.

Libraries, museums and other organizations that have a collection of notes or any written documents of endangered languages can digitize them to prevent them from degenerating and disappearing altogether. Since this is a job that is to be done with great care and precision, it is best to utilize competent document scanning and conversion services. They use advanced technology and software and have trained professionals to handle even the most fragile documents without causing any kind of damage.

About the Author

MOS (Managed Outsourced Solutions) is a leading business process outsourcing provider that supports small to large companies across the US with document conversion, document scanning, data processing, and data entry services.

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Author: Managed Outsource

Managed Outsource

Member since: Apr 20, 2015
Published articles: 10

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