Friday, December 18, 2009

There is a National Museum of Language

Did you know there is a National Museum of Language? I didn't, and now I do. You do, too.
Since its inception, the museum has featured an exhibit tracing the roots of early alphabet languages, such as Arabic, Latin, Greek and Hebrew, as well as one featuring the Chinese and Japanese character-based languages. Interactive displays involve computers, writing and reading.
As a museum dedicated to teaching the history of the world's languages, it is the first of its kind in the United States. I guess it just opened in April of 2008 in College Park, Maryland. And it is already in danger of closing.
"We need money," said James McFadden, the museum's treasurer. "Visitors are impressed, but the problem is translating that interest into a membership."
Of course. Lots of little museum and educational gems like these are at risk of closing down thanks to our dismal economy. Hopefully all the hubub about the recession having ended will be accurate and there will be some visible turnaround soon.
The museum plans to add an exhibit in February that will focus on the differences between American and British language that arose around the War of 1812, as many Americans began spelling some words differently ("color" instead of "colour") and adopting American Indian terms, such as succotash, raccoon, moose and terrapin.
I'm curious, it sounds interesting, even if it only has a 16-by-24-foot exhibit hall. But I also thought the Smithsonian Postal Museum was intriguing. You be the judge!

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