What if you got into a time machine and jumped forward a few hundred years, only to discover when you arrived that no one spoke your language anymore? It’s happened plenty of times (not the time machine thing, but languages dying out), so we wondered…could it happen to Thai?
Greg interviews friend of the show Rikker Dockum, a linguist finishing his PhD at Yale, who has been doing research in northwest Burma on a local dialect that is part of the same family of languages as Thai. After discussing this unusual dialect, Greg and Rikker chat about the modern Thai language and how it has slowly splintered and changed over time, including a few interesting tidbits into why Thais call Google ‘Uncle Goo’ and why the Thai translation of the Forrest Gump novel used a very specific spelling of a particular word. To wrap it up, Rikker gives us his thoughts on ‘language death’ and what role the forces of globalization and modern technology play.