Wearable tech is getting an old school makeover with the Long Now Foundation's Rosetta Project, a line of necklace pendants inscribed with lasers that hold nanoscale archives of around 1,500 languages. Unlike most high-tech jewelry, these necklaces don't connect to an app or record biometrics. Instead, they are wearable libraries that can be read with a powerful microscope. The 2 centimeter-wide medallions are made with durable metals, so the necklaces are linguistic time capsules built to last several millennia. New York wearables manufacturer Nano Rosetta only made 100 of these necklaces.
Toronto, Canada - A bronze plaque hangs at the corner of Spadina and Davenport roads. About 12,000 years ago, this was where high cliffs abutted Glacial Lake Iroquois, an ancient lake formed during the last Ice Age, the marker reads. Before the ancient waters receded, everything below this point - which includes today's downtown Toronto, Toronto City Hall and Ontario provincial legislature, financial district, universities and innumerable neighbourhoods, parks and shops - would have been underwater. For years, the only hint of indigenous history on this street, now a main thoroughfare cutting east-west across the city, was a vague reference to "an Indian trail," which the plaque says once connected the Humber and Don rivers. Today, after a Toronto-based initiative launched by indigenous activists in 2013, the area's largely overlooked indigenous history has finally been given permanent visibility.
Like his ancestors, 65-year-old Clayton Long spent his childhood immersed in Navajo culture, greeting fellow clan members with old, breathful Navajo words like "Yá'át'ééh." Then he was sent to an English-only boarding school where his native language, also known as Diné, was banned. "I went into a silent resistance," Long says from his home in Blanding, Utah. He vowed that he would help to preserve it after he left, work he has done for about three decades as a teacher. Long is one of the educators working with language-learning startup Duolingo on the company's latest endeavor: using its popular app to revive threatened languages.
The standard Ainu greeting "irankarapte" -- literally, "let me touch your heart softly" -- may one day be consigned to the annals of history. Indeed, the Ainu language is currently considered critically endangered -- one step away from extinction, an academic classification that refers to a language that is no longer in use. Transmitted orally and transcribed only relatively recently, Ainu was all but obliterated with the assimilation of its speakers, the indigenous inhabitants of Hokkaido, into Japanese society, a process that began in earnest during the Meiji Restoration in the late 1860s. Ainu people were taught conventional Japanese in schools built by colonizers, and, in the process, coerced into abandoning their traditions. A growing sense of shame about Ainu heritage resulted in the indigenous population electing not to teach their native language to their children.