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News Release 09-025

"The Linguists" Premieres at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris

Documentary film highlights endangered languages in Siberia, India and Bolivia

Photo of linguists with native speaker.

Linguists Harrison and Anderson worked to document an endangered language in Bolivia.

February 18, 2009

View video interviews with linguist David Harrison of Swarthmore College and producer-directors Seth Kramer and Daniel Miller.

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

"The Linguists," a documentary produced with major funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF), has continued to win recognition since premiering early in 2008 at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

The film dramatizes the kind of work involved in reaching indigenous communities and documenting their languages. It premieres Feb. 21 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in conjunction with "International Mother Language Day," an annual observance intended to promote multilingualism worldwide.

In addition, "The Linguists" will be broadcast 10 p.m. EST, Thursday, Feb. 26, on PBS stations. (Check local listings.)

Over the past year the film has played at international documentary film festivals and been featured in the Filmmakers@Google series on You Tube.

It also received the Youth Award at the first International Science Film Festival (Mostra Internacional de Ciencia e Cinema), a cultural event organized by Friends of the House of Sciences Association (Asociación de Amigos da Casa das Ciencias, AACC), in Galicia, Spain, in October 2008. This festival aims to promote and popularize science-related films and documentaries. The film was judged by a youth jury consisting of young people 16-17 years old from several schools in Galicia.

For more information on "The Linguists," see the January 8, 2008 NSF press release.


Media Contacts
Maria C. Zacharias, NSF, (703) 292-8454, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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