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Setting the standard internationally03/09/2014 - 03:37
Economic growth kills minority languages: study
Economic prosperity is the worst enemy of minority languages, said researchers Wednesday who listed parts of Australia and North America as "hotspots" for extinction risk...
Economic growth kills minority languages: studyacc0e8a8ca29e26904483e415f3dedafca9b17d3.jpg
AFP / Saeed Khan
People head to their work in the central business district of Sydney on March 7, 2013
Economic prosperity is the worst enemy of minority languages, said researchers Wednesday who listed parts of Australia and North America as "hotspots" for extinction risk.
Based on the same criteria used to determine the risk of extinction faced by animal and plant species, they concluded that about a quarter of the world's known 6,909 languages were threatened.
"Languages are now rapidly being lost at a rate of extinction exceeding the well-known catastrophic loss of biodiversity," the US-European research team wrote in the Royal Society Journal Biology Letters.
"Small-population languages remaining in economically developed regions are seriously threatened by continued speaker declines."
In Alaska, for example, there were only 24 active speakers by 2009 of the Athabaskan people's indigenous language, which children were no longer learning.
And the Wichita language of the Plains Indians, now based in Oklahoma, had only one fluent speaker by 2008.
In Australia, aboriginal languages like the recently-extinct Margu and almost extinct Rembarunga are "increasingly disappearing", the team wrote.
"Economically developed regions, such as North America and Australia, have already experienced many language extinctions," they said.
"Nevertheless, small-range and small-population languages still persist in hotspots within these regions. Those languages need immediate attention because of their high extinction risk."
Also at risk were developing parts of the world undergoing rapid economic growth, such as much of the tropics and the Himalayan region, said the team -- citing Brazil and Nepal.
The researchers had gathered data on the number of speakers of a language, their geographical range, and rates of growth or decline.
They then considered possible influences like globalisation or environmental and socio-economic changes.
The data comparison showed that "levels of GDP (gross domestic product) per capita correlated with the loss of language diversity: the more successful economically, the more rapidly language diversity was disappearing," said a press statement from the University of Cambridge.
Study co-author Tatsuya Amato from the university's zoology department, explained that as economies develop, one language often comes to dominate a nation's political and educational spheres.
"People are forced to adapt the dominant language or risk being left out in the cold -- economically and politically."
One saving grace is bilingualism, which the team said must be encouraged to preserve the world's linguistic diversity.
"Our study also contributes to a basic understanding of the origin and maintenance of human cultural diversity," they wrote.
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Essential news in text, photo, graphic and video format02/09/2014 - 19:14
France's scorned former first lady to publish kiss-and-tell
afp.com / Pool / Thomas Samson
A picture taken on May 7, 2013 in Paris shows Valerie Trierweiler in the gardens at the Elysee presidential palace
France's scorned former first lady Valerie Trierweiler is set to lift the lid on her tumultuous relationship with the president on Thursday in what could prove an explosive memoir.
Trierweiler, a journalist, was dumped unceremoniously by Francois Hollande in January after a magazine revealed his affair with actress Julie Gayet, and has since remained broadly silent about an event she once said had felt like falling "from a skyscraper."
But the 49-year-old had all along been secretly writing a book about her years-long relationship with the Socialist leader, which comes out on Thursday and does not "spare" Hollande, according to parliamentary channel LCP which broke the news.
"Everything I write is true," she writes on the cover of the book, called "Thank You For This Moment" and unveiled in Paris-Match, a glossy magazine for which she used to be a political reporter and still contributes to.
"At the Elysee (presidential palace), I sometimes felt as if I was on a story. And I have suffered too much from lies to tell lies myself."
AFP / Bertrand Langlois
A picture taken on February 15, 2013 shows France's President Francois Hollande (R) and his then partner Valerie Trierweiler at the Nehru Institute in New Delhi
The 320-page book "is a cry of love as well as a slow descent into hell, a plunge into the intimacy of a couple. Two people and nothing more: Valerie and Francois," the weekly writes.
Les Arenes, the publishing company behind the book, refused to comment when contacted by AFP and Trierweiler herself could not be reached for comment.
The glamorous journalist met Hollande in the mid 2000's while he was in a relationship with Segolene Royal -- herself a former presidential candidate -- and the pair began a secret liaison.
Hollande subsequently left Royal, the mother of his four children, for Trierweiler who became the de facto first lady of France after he was elected in 2012, despite the fact the pair were not married.
- Love and despair -
News of his affair with 42-year-old Gayet caused shockwaves in France in January, and Trierweiler was hospitalised for a week after Closer published pictures of Hollande arriving for secret trysts with the actress at a borrowed flat.
AFP / Gabriel Bouys
French actress Julie Gayet arrives for the opening ceremony of the Venice Film Festival on August 27, 2014 at Venice Lido
Hollande then announced their relationship was over in an 18-word statement that was devoid of regret or remorse for the woman he had described as "the love of my life" in 2010.
"Eighteen words is almost one word for each month we spent together since he was elected," Trierweiler told Le Parisien daily in January, describing herself as "more disappointed than hurt".
According to Paris-Match, this is the first time that a former first lady "really tells the story of nine years of a relationship eroded by jealousy and power... A story of love... and despair."
The weekly -- which publishes extracts of the book in an issue that comes out Wednesday in Paris and Thursday in the rest of France -- describes Trierweiler as a "passionate lover, possessive, mad about this man whom she admires, who makes her laugh and delightfully destabilises her."
The book could prove an embarrassment for Hollande, whose approval ratings are at a record low.
Her memoir will not be the first by a former first lady.
Nicolas Sarkozy's ex-wife Cecilia Attias, who was a key advisor in his successful 2007 campaign but divorced him soon after, also published an autobiography last year, which sold tens of thousands of copies.
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