Music & Performance

Endangered Languages: The Mother Tongue Revival

  • This is a past program

Co-presented with PBS SoCaL 

Languages are disappearing at an alarming rate: nearly half the 6,000 languages on earth will go extinct over the next 50 years due to globalization. This multimedia evening presents local endangered language communities—Aztec, Hawaiian, Welsh, and more—for an evening of multilingual poetry, film, and song, including excerpts from the new PBS documentary Language Matters with Bob Holman, a film by David Grubin, which asks What do we lose when a language dies and what does it take to save a language?

The event features performances by endangered language communities including presentations by Didgeridoo player Barry Martin; Hawaiian hula and chant by Halau O Lilinoe (“fine mist”), one of the most respected traditional halau in Southern California; Luis Rodriguez, Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, reading a poem in Nahuatl; Anita Martinez, a storyteller and singer in Garifuna, an Arawakan language spoken in Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize; and Kealoha, Hawaii's Poet Laureate. Director/producer David Grubin and poet/host Bob Holman screen short pieces of the film and lead a discussion about successful efforts to advance language preservation. In partnership with the Welsh Government and PBS SoCaL. For more information and airdates visit

Language Matters with Bob Holman is a co-production of David Grubin Productions Inc. and Pacific Islanders in Communications. Produced in association with The Endangered Language Alliance. Major funding provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities with additional funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and philanthropic individuals.

All Hammer public programs are free and made possible by a major gift from the Dream Fund at UCLA. 

Generous support is also provided by Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy, Good Works Foundation and Laura Donnelley, an anonymous donor, and all Hammer members. 

The Hammer’s digital presentation of its public programs is made possible by the Billy and Audrey L. Wilder Foundation.