Friday, July 22, 2005

Ethnologue piece in New York Times

Article in July 19, 2005 New York Times on Ethnologue, entitled " How Linguists and Missionaries Share a Bible of 6,912 Languages." Begun in 1951 to help missionaries identify languages into which the Bible had not yet been translated, it is now a huge database (and 1,200-page book) consulted 'religiously' by linguists, librarians, software developers, the federal government, and others needing a panoramic view of the world's languages. Ethnologue estimates number of the world's extant spoken languages to be about 7,000. There's a nice map showing language diversity by country. North Korea has the least with 1 spoken languages; Papua New Guinea the most with 820.
Ethnologue has assigned a three-letter code for all 7,000 languages. 400 of these have been mapped to their (similarly 3-letter) equivalents in MARC. It wouldn't be hard, then, for libraries to convert to this more robust set of codes some day).

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