Need to preserve languages: Linguist


Amritsar, February 22

Using art and his passion for linguistics to save endangered languages, most of them indigenous, Timothy Brookes began with the ‘Endangered Alphabets’, a non-profit venture he founded to document and preserve languages and dialects at the risk of being forgotten.

Brookes talked about the importance of these languages at a lecture he delivered online hosted by the Literary Club, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, on the occasion of International Mother Language Day. Dr Ujjal Jeet, academician, welcomed the guests and highlighted the need for revitalising not only the language but also the preservation and documentation of lesser known scripts and writing systems.

Timothy Brookes became internationally acclaimed for preparing the ‘Atlas of Endangered Alphabets’ and his unique flair for making wood carvings of the endangered alphabets for script documentation. “Understand it this way, the loss of a script that results in the loss of a language also eventually results in the loss of distinctive cultural identity of a community. Like for instance, according to reports, 40% of the total languages and dialects spoken across the world are at the risk of being lost. These include indigenous languages from North America, South America, Australia and Asia,” he said.

The introduction was followed by a technical session in which Brookes presented his rich insight and identified writing as a visual iconography and art form.

Analysing the lost and unformed scripts of certain South Asian and African communities, he mentioned the ‘Script Incubator Program’, which aims to enable and empower the overlooked languages by providing a ‘New script’ or a ‘Custom-made script’.

His lecture received a warm response from scholars, teachers and students from different linguistic backgrounds like Bangla, Sambalpuri, Sylheti and Pahadi in addition to Punjabi.