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Global Recordings Network

When you talk or read about minority languages the question pops up: “what does it sound like”? Finding sound files for them can be a challenge; we’re taught there are 6,000-7,000 thousand world languages and 10,000 vernaculars, not including dead and undocumented languages. However, you can always depend on the Global Recordings Network, which aims to “effectively communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ, through audio recordings, to all peoples in their own language”. They have audio discourse in just about every language (currently 5800 or so) for free!

Some languages have very scarce documentation, fortunately, the missionary’s task of translating the Bible into minority languages has given them a lot of (open source!) documentation. Without Bibles, we wouldn’t have adequate knowledge of many Native languages, like Wampanoag. Yet, it’s often lamented that unless you can hear a language spoken, there is no hope in truly reviving it.

Using this resource, descendents of peoples who spoke languages now gone can hear what the native tongues of their ancestors sounded like. Linguists can use these files to study phonology/phonetics and as discourse. Better yet, select Bible passages are available in a multitude of different languages so you can explore different cultural and linguistic perspectives through comparing and contrasting different ways of putting the same information into words.

Whereas in previous times you’d have to venture into the heart of Alaska to hear Tlingit – that indigenous language of Alaska famous in linguistics and psychology circles for having so many similar yet contrastive sounds; g [k], gw [kw], gh [q], ghw [qw], k [kh], kw [kwh], kh [qh], khw [qwh], k’ [k'], k’w [kw'], kh’ [q'], kh’w [qw'], x [x], xw [xw], xh [X], xhw [Xw], x’ [x'], x’w [xw'], xh’ [X'], xh’w [Xw'], to name a few – today all it takes is the click of a button.

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mathias

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