Essay about The Last Speakers By David Harrison

816 Words Oct 27th, 2015 4 Pages
In “The Last Speakers” by linguist, K. David Harrison, the reader travels across the world with Harrison and learns about endangered languages. Harrisons’ goal is listen to people’s views on why their language is important and celebrate languages that no longer have a large amount of speakers. Harrison is able to meet the last speakers of some languages and expand his knowledge about different cultures and the influence that language has on people’s everyday lives. Harrison is able to identify the similarities and differences between the languages he knows and the languages he learns. As a linguist, he is also able to connect the languages he learns to the study of linguists. One of Harrison’s first expeditions is to Tuva, Russia. Although he came across people who were convinced that Tuva did not exist, he was determined to go. Once he arrives to Tuva, he is welcomed yet some Tuvans feel like he is a spy. Harrison had to go back to America before his visa expired but he knew that he would be visiting Tuva again. Surely he did and he spent a year there with the Mongush family. A difference from the English language that Harrison encountered while he is living with this family is how to say the word “go.” He was expecting a simple translation but soon realized that the word was more complicated. Tuvans associate direction with location. For example, if somebody wanted to be directed to a certain place, a response in Tuvan would be “go upstream” or “go downstream.” It is…

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