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I think that when I was a little kid, I decided the National Geographic was magical.  I’m not sure I’ve ever really grown out of that idea.

My grandparents subscribed to the magazine starting in the 60’s, and carefully shelved each issue in chronological order throughout their house.  So maybe it’s something about the comfort of visiting them, combined with the stories of boundless adventures, that makes me so thrilled when I see that familiar yellow border.  And remember the theme song to their TV shows?  Surely I’m not the only kid who dreamed of growing up to become an official National Geographic explorer.

So this month’s feature on Vanishing Languages feels a little bit like an early birthday present!  The National Geographic Society has always supported cutting-edge field research in areas like environmental conservation, biology, and archaeology, and with the Enduring Voices project they affirm that the linguistic landscape of the world is yet another important – and still largely uncharted – area for exploration.

Of course, just like any National Geographic article, the photographs are stunning.  I’m so astonished by how perfectly this photographer managed to convey visual messages for an article that’s all about speech and text.  And the sample words from the languages featured are so perfectly curated.

Might I recommend that you look through the photo gallery while listening to these pieces from a Kalmyk violinist, recorded recently by the Enduring Voices expedition team.


Maybe I really will get to be an explorer when I grow up 🙂