Usarufa is a language of Papua New Guinea with just 1200 speakers (ISO-639 code "usa"). There's no fluent speakers under the age of 25, so the language must be considered moribund. Before posting recordings of this language online, I needed to get informed consent, so I introduced some speakers to the World Wide Web. We poked around for a while, finding useful sites about about insecticides for dealing with the taro beetle. Then we turned our attention to audio.
I played them a recording of the "last words" of the Jiwarli language of Western Australia. After some questioning looks I explained that this language is now dead, and we were listening to its last speaker before he died. As one they all looked down, shaking their heads in disbelief and saying sorry, sorry, sorry…. It was as if I told them a mutual friend had died. They urged me to put that recording on a cassette tape so they could take it back to their village. That way, everyone would surely understand what will happen to the Usarufa language unless there are serious attempts to revitalize it.
I wasn't prepared for the intensity of their response. Now I'm wondering if a collection of such recordings might be a useful tool in promoting language revitalization, and also in explaining the concept of language archiving. (Thanks to Ima'o Ta'asata, James Warebu, Sivini Ikilele, and Waks Mark for their dedication to the preservation of Usarufa oral culture, and to Aaron Willems and SIL-PNG for facilitating this work.)