Speakers of endangered languages converge on Mall

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by Associated Press

Associated Press

Posted on June 28, 2013 at 5:05 AM

Updated Friday, Jun 28 at 11:05 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A group of eight musicians and craftsmen have traveled more than 6,000 miles from their home in southern Siberia to Washington in hopes of saving their culture from slow extinction.

They're among the decreasing number of people from the Tuva Republic who speak Tuvan, one of more than a dozen endangered idioms represented at the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall.

The festival's program is drawing attention to languages on the verge of extinction by bringing native speakers to Washington to explain the challenges of passing their linguistic heritage on to younger generations.

The Smithsonian's K. David Harrison says many cultures are under social and economic pressure to abandon their idioms and switch to global languages such as Mandarin, Spanish and English.

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