Of all that is being lost in turmoil and conflict in the Caucasus right now, this has to break a linguist’s heart. Is there hope that someone somewhere has been working with this? Or the other 40-plus languages of the region?
Once again thanks to The New York Times and John Freivalds () August 24, 2008
The World: Barriers That Are Steep and Linguistic By ELLEN BARRY: To understand the conflict in Georgia, listen to how people speak in the Caucasus.
“A language is the prime indication of the existence of a people,” said George Hewitt, a University of London scholar of Abkhaz, the language spoken in Abkhazia, another separatist region of Georgia. “If a language dies, the culture dies as well. The people will become assimilated.”
One more question to be answered in the calm that comes after the end of fighting: Caucasian expert Dr. Anna V. Dybo at the Russian Academy of Sciences has yet to hear from a library in Tskhinvali, which held a magisterial lexicon of the Ossetian language that was compiled over the course of many years. It’s a single manuscript, never transferred to a computer.
She is not sure, she said, but she thinks it burned up on Aug. 8.
“She is not sure. . . .”