ALBEMARLE COUNTY, V.A. (WVIR) - An Albemarle County high school student is designing an online program to prevent obscure languages that are in danger of disappearing from becoming obsolete.
Ryan Ortengren has always been interested in the cultures of the world. The high school specialty center, called Center I, has allowed the 17-year-old to learn how to write code that could potentially save some of that history.
“Anywhere between 50 to 90 percent of all the worlds 6,000 languages are actually endangered at this point,” Ortengren said.
"As people die off, that there's no real record of the stories of the history of those people," Center I Director Michael Craddock said.
Ortengren’s program uses many different dictionaries layered within one another to create the program. It outputs a letter for every sound put in: “We could be like, ‘A, E, I, O and U’ and we tell the program that we’re done inputting all the sounds of our language and it will return what it’s like for the language system we chose,” Ortengren explained.
The teen didn't even know how to write code at the start of the year. Center I instructors, like Craddock, work with students to give them the tools and knowledge they need to pursue their passions.
Center I is only open to high school seniors right now, but next year, sophomores and juniors will also be able to enroll.
As for Ortengren, this work he’s started here in Albemarle County is something he plans to pursue for the rest of his life.
"The diversity of the world is how we learn about the world. If everyone eventually speaks English or Mandarin or Spanish we won’t have anything to research and compare. It’s actually the differences between us that allow us to understand ourselves," he said.
Center I will hold open house events at 6 p.m. Monday, December 9, and Wednesday, December 11 .
Right now only 40 students attend the program and next year, the director expects to have around 250.