Speaking in Tongue


Linguistic researchers have speculated that the number of global languages in use could be cut in half within fifty years. The rapidity at which languages are disappearing has already surpassed endangered animals' extinction rates. What are the implications of this loss? Such questions frame "OnlyOneNativeSpeaker," an evolving component of the Netherlands-based art website "Social Fiction." Through "OnlyOneNativeSpeaker," "Social Fiction" explores language in the same way it has explored social space through psychogeography, by combining institutional knowledge with lived experience. Utilizing a wiki, Yahoo! group, and del.icio.us list, the project proposes to harvest "thousands of new artificial languages" in order to "add parallelism, diversity and heterogeneity" to the standardization of mass communication. There are a few examples already archived, including Sasxsek and Sinnish, and you can submit your own linguistic creation, whether a programming language or the ad-hoc one you use to win a game of Scrabble. This won't reverse the diminishing landscape of spoken languages, but it could enhance our experience of navigating through it. - Ryan Griffis