In a move that cynics might claim is just cheap PR, busuu.com, the language learning community, has launched a campaign to save Busuu, a Cameroonian language with only 8 remaining speakers and on UNESCO’s list of ‘critically endangered’ languages. Yes, apparently, such a list does exist.
The Save Busuu campaign takes the form of a music video and learning pack, along with a social media campaign inviting users to create their own song in the near-extinct language. The aim is to raise awareness of the Busuu language (from which the European startup plucked its name) and to, ultimately, prevent its extinction, however lofty a goal that might be.
To produce the music video and free audiovisual learning unit, busuu.com sent a film crew and linguistic experts to the remote village of Weh in north-west Cameroon last summer, the result of which is said to be the first evidence of the Busuu language available online. That’s worthy of a bit of free PR, no?
An interesting tidbit: According to UNESCO, nearly half of the existing 6,500 languages in the world are on the verge of extinction. Since 1950, 230 languages have become extinct and with them, the “cultural identity of their speakers”.
Of course, if a startup only had 8 users, no one would blink an eye if it fell by the wayside. Luckily perhaps, culture is thought of slightly differently.