But museums and dictionaries are feeble defence against globalisation and urbanisation. The best way of keeping the dialects alive would be to use them as a medium of instruction in public schools. But the national government sets the curriculum, so that is unlikely to happen. Parents are a poor substitute for teachers. “The more you make kids speak a language the more they rebel,” says Mr Altenhofen. His 16-year-old daughter is learning Japanese. She wants to study Korean next.