Society

The Digital Technology That’s Killing Languages Can Save Them Too

As the world gets more homogenized and closely connected, geographic-specific languages risk vanishing — with one-third of languages having fewer than 1,000 speakers left. But tech can help.

Languages disappearing is not only a linguistic casualty — it is also the loss of a culture, history and people. Luckily, some of the same technologies blamed for killing languages can be used to preserve and spread those threatened around the world. Examples from Eastern Europe to Peru highlight the potential of digital tools, as well as the continued significance of more rudimental techniques to pass a language down from one generation to the next:

Google recently released the app Woolaroo, which has the goal of revitalizing some of the most threatened languages through artificial intelligence. Take a photo of an object and Woolaroo will tell you what its name is in 10 languages including Louisiana Creole, Nawat (spoken in El Salvador) and Calabrian Greek.

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Heat Is On In Central America (It's Not Just Nicaragua)

-Analysis-

BOGOTA — Nicaragua is facing its most violent crisis since the 1980s, when President Daniel Ortega first led the country. Between 295 and 448 people have been killed after more than three months of protests and violent crackdown by security forces, according to various rights groups. Ortega himself put the number last week at 195, and went so far as to blame ISIS for the chaotic situation.

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Spotlight: El Salvador, A Christmas Plea For Peace

Make it stop! That's the message delivered this week by an organization of Protestant churches in El Salvador, Central America's smallest but deadliest country.

The group, known as the Pastoral Initiative for Life and Peace, or IPAZ, is hoping that for the week between Christmas and New Year, gang members, security forces, operatives of so-called death squads and others responsible for the nation's horrific homicide numbers will accept a temporary "peace pact."

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El Salvador Setting New Murder Record

SAN SALVADOR — Crime-ridden El Salvador is having a particularly bloody year. Facing the power of the "Mara" street gangs, the Central American country has already counted a "record" 4,427 homicides from January to Sept. 8, the country's Institute of Legal Medicine, or state coroners, has reported.

The figure was expected to top 5,000 by the end of 2015, though it already exceeded the total murders of each of the past six years, leading online newspaper elsalvador.com reports. Before 2015, the recent years with most murders were 2009, with a total of 4,382 criminal killings, and 2011, with 4,371.

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Geopolitics
Tobias Käufer

Searching For El Salvador's Disappeared Children

During the country's civil war in the 1980s, countless children were abducted and sold off into adoption. Some in Europe are now joining the hunt to know their origins.

SAN SALVADOR — In the offices of the human rights organization Pro Búsqueda, there are grey filing cabinets crammed with records detailing the fates of hundreds of missing Salvadoran children, dating mostly from the gruesome years of the country’s civil war — 1980 to 1991.

“We’ve collected all the information, including witness statements, in this archive,” says Mirla Carbajal, director of Pro Búsqueda, which is investigating dubious “adoptions” during that period.

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Geopolitics

Curing Central America’s Crime Epidemic Is Up To Latin America, Not The U.S.

Op-Ed: Bodies are piling up in Central America’s ‘northern triangle’ of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, where drug trafficking and street gangs have made the area nearly ungovernable. The isthmus needs outside help, and it’s time the rest of Latin Am

SANTIAGO - Each year, tiny nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – the so-called ‘northern triangle" – have more violent murders than all of the 27 members of the European Union combined.

According to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, Honduras leads the world in violent killings, with 82.1 murders per year per 100,000 residents, followed by El Salvador, with 66 per 100,000. The two Central American states beat out countries in the Middle East and Africa that are in the middle of armed conflict. Guatemala comes in seventh, with 41 homicides per 100,000 (for comparison sake, the comparable figures are 1.4 per 100,000 in France and 5 per 100,000 in the United States).

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El Salvador
Paulo A. Paranagua

Gang Violence Surges In El Salvador

Once considered a social phenomenon of shared sense of identity for poor youth, gangs in El Salvador have grown increasingly deadly, as the country counts the world’s highest murder rate. Latin America's exploding drug trafficking routes threaten

ILOPANGO - Ana, a 17-year-old El Salvadorian, is one of nine children. "My sister and I decided to rebel against the family, to do bad things," she confides. "In this crazy world where everyone is killing each other, we don't realize how wrong the things we do are." A member of the Mara Salvatrucha, a gang of ultraviolent youth, she was sentenced to three years of prison for extortion.

Beatriz, 19, was a member of the main rival band, the Mara 18 (also known as the 18th Street Gang). ""People have the wrong idea about the maras," she says. "They think they rape girls. But I'm respected. I used to have a ‘formal" boyfriend, then I got together with a ‘marero." I preferred my friends to my family, whom I refused to love."

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