Last week at the Digital Book World Conferencein Nashville, Tennessee, SIL LEAD Executive Director Dr. Paul Frank spoke about what digital publishing has to offer languages without literature.
A Life WITH or without Books: Digital Publishing is the Answer for Languages without Literature
- Frank began his talk by asking us to imagine what our lives would have been like without books. He drew the audience’s attention to the Lani Language Group of Papua, in Indonesia. 180,000 people speak Lani, but until very recently they had a grand total of ZERO books. Can you imagine? That would be as if the entire population of Providence, Rhode Island had zero books. Ouch! And that’s only one of 700living, indigenous languages in Indonesia!
- Thanks to the charity Remote School Papua and others, the Lani group now has digital books.
- Frank then reminded the people at this publishing conference that while they knew what it was like to serve a crowded market, they should try to imagine all the languages with few or no books—adding that there are over seven thousand languages in the world, with thousandsthat, just like the Lani, have no books of their own.
- 310 of these languages are disappearing, as their last remaining speakers die out. But what do we lose when that happens?