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NB: there is a CATEGORY B swear word towards the end of this episode.
But it IS there for educational purposes only.
ALSO NB: After the episode was released, I was alerted that listener Ryan's request was about a FAKE Mike Pence statement. I CAN NEVER TRUST YOU AGAIN, RYAN! The etymological content still stands.
This episode is a companion to Allusionist 43: The Key part I - Rosetta, about how the Rosetta Stone enabled Egyptian hieroglyphics to be deciphered.
If you don't have a Rosetta Stone to hand, deciphering extinct languages can be a real puzzle, even though they didn't intend to be. They didn't intend to become extinct, either, but such is the life (and death) of languages. Linguistic historiographer Julie Tetel Andresen, classicist Nick Zair, and British Museum curator Irving Finkel survey the remains.
DECIPHER THIS TOPIC:
- UNESCO's list of endangered languages.
- It is estimated that every couple of weeks, a language dies off. These were some of them.
- But in 8,000BC, there may have been more than 20,000 languages?
- Keep endangered languages alive, with the Endangered Language Fund.
- Keep endangered languages alive - with parrots?
- In the course of his work deciphering ancient tablets, Irving Finkel may have confirmed the existence of Noah's Ark.
- There's a transcript of this episode at theallusionist.org/transcripts/vestiges.
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MAILCHIMP'S RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
- Julie Tetel Andresen is a linguistic historiographer and author; her website is julietetelandresen.com. Learn more about language evolution and extinction from her latest book, Languages in the World: How History, Culture, and Politics Shape Language - and she also writes romance novels.
- Nick Zair's book about Oscan is Oscan in the Greek Alphabet. Learn more about his work in the Oscan-translating project at greekinitaly.wordpress.com.
- Irving Finkel is a curator in the Middle East department at the British Museum and the author of The Ark before Noah. He also founded The Great Diary Project.
- Thanks to Sian Toogood and Nick Harris of the British Museum for facilitating The Key episodes. The British Museum has a new podcast.
- This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman, with Devon Taylor, Cheeka Eyers and Martin Austwick, who also provided the music.