Some of you might remember last month's item about Peter Ladefoged inspiring the rare addition of an African sound—the labiodental flap—to the International Phonetic Alphabet. Professor Ladegofed died Tuesday in London en route home from India. A UCLA media release calls him "the world's foremost linguistic phonetician and one of the most important figures in linguistics in the 20th century."
He was apparently a man on a mission to save vanishing human culture:
Every language that dies represents a loss of human culture and a loss of a way of organizing life," Ladefoged once said...."We can only scrape the surface of recording dying languages. There is no earthly way we can record several thousand of them, but we will do what we can. As one young Apache put it to me, 'We can no longer speak to our ancestors,' a tragedy that violated his soul."
In lieu of flowers, his family has requested contributions to the Endangered Language Fund.