How Missionaries Preserve Culture

In an effort to translate the Bible, Protestant missionary groups have documented many endangered languages and now secular anthropologists are showing interest.

Modern missionaries are anthropologically aware. They understand the importance of minority languages, not just for communication but also for a people’s identity, and they are generally more deferential than missionaries in centuries past. Moreover, in declaring their ideology at the outset, he believes that S.I.L. International [Protestant] linguists are more intellectually honest than academic linguists who claim to have no ideological bias at all. With thousands of languages still undocumented, many of which are in danger of dying before they are written down, it looks as though these emissaries of faith will continue to find plenty of work to keep them busy.

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