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Language Extinction


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I would like to bring your attention to a cause that is very close to my heart; language extinction. All over the world, minority groups are losing their languages and switching to English, Spanish, French or some other major world language to the detriment and loss of their native heritage and culture.

This website was founded by a group of Canadian intellectuals in a very valiant attempt to help preserve the languages of the Aboriginal First Nations of Canada (those whom the world very, very wrongly calls "Red Indians and Eskimos"). Feel free to browse through the site, it is very interesting and you can hear the amazing sounds of the native languages, some of which are spoken by only a handful of tribal elders. I really hope their amazing ancient languages will survive for the coming generations.

http://www.firstvoices.com/

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Thank you for providing that link. I am well aware of this very sad issue. My brother once gave me a book about language extinction (for my birthday) and it is shocking to see all those beautiful languages fading away. As you already pointed out, some languages are almost extinct and are just spoken by a handful of people. In my book, you can even find a language that is just spoken by no more than two people! This is very sad and we should try hard to keep all those beautiful languages alive!

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Thank you for providing that link. I am well aware of this very sad issue. My brother once gave me a book about language extinction (for my birthday) and it is shocking to see all those beautiful languages fading away. As you already pointed out, some languages are almost extinct and are just spoken by a handful of people. In my book, you can even find a language that is just spoken by no more than two people! This is very sad and we should try hard to keep all those beautiful languages alive!

Absolutely, think of it as an ever-expanding database for the legacy of ancient peoples that are being swallowed up by the modern world. I used to study the grammatical structures of some of them (as part of a linguistics course I did at university) and the grammar can be much more exotic than any Asian or European language. If these languages go extinct, we as humans will be losing a vital part of our shared heritage.

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I am very glad to hear that there are organisations out there to raise the awareness that some native languages are becoming endangered. I would like to take an example of my country- our native language  here is creole, which is not well-known in the world. People were more encouraged to learn french instead until recently the government took the decision to integrate creole in the educational system- we are encouraged to read/write/sing in creole thus preserving our native language.

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I am very glad to hear that there are organisations out there to raise the awareness that some native languages are becoming endangered. I would like to take an example of my country- our native language  here is creole, which is not well-known in the world. People were more encouraged to learn french instead until recently the government took the decision to integrate creole in the educational system- we are encouraged to read/write/sing in creole thus preserving our native language.

Lots of countries speak English and French, but only there is only one that uses Morisyen! It is a worthy cause and interesting as well. The more a country's government preserves it's people's native languages the more I feel that the citizens appreciate their government for caring about the things that matter.

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I think the growth, change, and progress of cultures is a beautiful thing. I definitely would not want to ever lose sight of the historical importance of a language, but we do also have to acknowledge that there is not just an artistic, but a pragmatic use for language. For example, in the Middle East and Asia Minor many semitic languages are being overtaken by Arabic. No one can or should deny the weight of the impact of Aramaic, but it does seem somewhat obtuse to take a stand against the 'Arab Language Take Over.' Globalization and advancement in communication technologies are going to have an effect on language among many other things. It's ok to be open to new traditions and cultures, and it doesn't mean you can't honor the past ones.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, it's definitively the case that more and more languages, dialects and accents die. But that's just the way it is and always have been. There are things coming in life and there are things going in life. You can see that in your personal life, in history, in the world of the animals and surely it will be the same with Earth itself.

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  • 2 months later...

I think language extinction is only natural. Language is a tool, not a form of art or expression of culture. A language that is not being used will go extinct, because its served its function and is no longer needed.

I agree. Eventually, humans will extinct. Same thing with languages. It is only natural that they extinct, but I am glad there are organizations trying to stop extinction.

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As much as I can advocate the preservation of culture in an increasingly globalized world, language extinction is a natural progression. Preserving it may prove futile in a practical sense, though I see the validity of doing it for historic purposes.

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I have never heard of language extinction. The reason I say that, is because a language going extinct is something serious. Although I can understand why they would be switching their language to English. English is a easy language and spoken almost on ever continent.

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Personally, I wish English was the official language in every country (I'm not saying that because it's my native language - it's not) but because just having one universal language would make everything so practical.

This to me is much more important than trying to preserve an obsolete language. Anyone wanting to learn the language for cultural history is still free to, much like there are still people learning Latin. It just makes sense for society to abandon a language over time in favor of a more significant one.

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It just makes sense for society to abandon a language over time in favor of a more significant one.

I agree. It's great to preserve languages that are dead (or in the process of dying) for historical purposes, to see how they played a part in the development of societies and how the language itself evolved and changed over time. These languages are dying for a reason, though, and that's because other languages are simply more practical in a world that is becoming increasingly globalized.

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I'm personally affected by this, since I'm a person with sephardic/ashkenazi ancestry on my mother's side, and it seems that ladino is dying... now mostly only the old people speak it.  It still is spoken in Israel by some sephardic minorities, but this language it's losing its ground against Hebrew!  As for yiddish... well, there still are a lot people who still speak it, specially the ultra orthodox jews living everywhere, but mostly in Israel... so not worried about that one at all!

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It is very true, so many languages are fading away. The switch to the other languages also affect them in a way as they are not as original as they should be. There are so many slang terms.Whenever I write 'wanna, gonna, or any such my computer doesn't even highlight them as misspelling.

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I think language extinction is only natural. Language is a tool, not a form of art or expression of culture. A language that is not being used will go extinct, because its served its function and is no longer needed.

Language is, indeed, a tool. But I think you're wrong when you say it's not an expression of culture. I think it is. There are many words and phrases that are almost untranslatable into other languages, simply because they reference a cultural construct that doesn't exist elsewhere, or not enough to have a term for it. One example that springs to mind is a word specific to an Inuit(?) dialect that means something like "the feeling of expecting someone and repeatedly going out to look for them".

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I think that losing a language may be really bad, but have one that everyone understands is also something that i see as great. I think that communication is very important and language is there to serve that purpose. So if it is preserved but only a handful can speak it then it is not really serving the human race as a whole.

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