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Say what? Half the world’s languages will vanish by the end of the century

There are more than 6,000 languages spoken around the world today. But by the end of this century, fewer than half of them will remain.

That’s the driving concern of the new documentary “Language Matters,” from poet Bob Holman and filmmaker David Grubin. The two traveled the globe looking at endangered languages and efforts to preserve them — visiting an aboriginal community in northern Australia, the country of Wales and the Hawaiian Islands.

“Each of these languages holds a little piece of information or a lot of information, can hold the information about medicines and health, can hold information about the constellations in the sky,” Holman says. “And that’s information that if you lose the language, you lose that connection with that place, with that way of thinking, with tens of thousands of years of that language’s lineage.”

As part of our coverage of Culture at Risk, Chief arts correspondent Jeffrey Brown recently discussed the film with Holman, which premieres on some PBS stations this weekend and can be streamed online now.

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