Call to save rare languages
Some minority languages in Thailand could die out in the next 10-15 years unless steps are taken to preserve them, said a Thai member of the Unesco World Heritage Committee.
Thailand had over 70 languages used by ethnic groups and at least 15 of them have been listed as nearly extinct, said Somsuda Leyavanija, the Culture Ministry's deputy permanent secretary who has been appointed to the 21-member Unesco panel.
Citing research by Mahidol University's Research Institute for Languages and Culture of Asia, Ms Somsuda said ethnic dialects which were dying out include the Mlabri language used by the Tong Luang tribal people along the Thai-Lao border, the sea gypsies' Moklen language (Phuket and Phangnga).
Others are the Urak Lawoy (Phuket, Krabi, and Satun), Chong (Chanthaburi), Kasong (Trat), Saek (Nakhon Phanom), Nyah Kur (Nakhon Ratchasima), Lawa or Gong (Suphan Buri), Sakai or Mani (Yala, Phatthalung, Satun, and Narathiwat).
"Language is not only a tool for communicating, but also reflects the history, religion, culture, tradition, and beliefs of the language's owner.
"If it disappears, all the history would also go," she said.
"If there is no action to preserve and record those languages, especially the spoken languages, they will fade in 5-10 years," Ms Somsuda said.
She suggested that children should be taught to speak both central and local languages.
Suwilai Premsrirat, head of the Research Institute for Languages and Culture of Asia, said globalisation and the education system were eroding minority languages, as people no longer needed to use them as often.
Ocassionally I hear people talking about Lao or Isaan language but I've never heard of Nyah Kur. Who's got closer information by whom that is/was spoken, what distinguishes it from other languages etc.?