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February 24, 2009

Language Sleuthing: The Amazing Adventures of Greg and Dave

by Sara Tucker

When it comes to cool jobs, a lot of us missed the boat, but who knew that "language sleuth" was one of the coolest? I surely didn't. Then I heard about The Linguists, which starts airing Thursday, February 26, on PBS (it's a TV Guide Editor's Pick of the Week), and now I'm sick with envy. The film stars ethnographers David Harrison and Greg Anderson, two college professors on an Indiana Jones-style quest to document the world's endangered languages before it's too late (the rate of attrition is one every two weeks; 167 are threatened right here in the United States). Their heroic pursuit takes them to remote pockets of Siberia, Bolivia, and India, and the result is a documentary that struck Sundance 2008 like a coup de foudre. The Linguists has been on tour for the past year (the Kansas City Star called it "Funny, enlightening and ultimately uplifting"; Vanity Fair pronounced it "a fantastic little film"); television audiences will finally get to see it for the first time Thursday night. For a sneak preview, click the video above or go to their Web site.

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