Language is a conduit for thought. It is timeless and encompasses a past and a present. Through words, we as humans express our thoughts in a way unique to our surroundings. Korean speaker will have access to different meanings than a French speaker and the French speaker from an English speaker. However, more than half of the languages spoken today are considered endangered by linguists. These are the languages from the small towns or tribes of indigenous people. They hold on to words that many of the world does not know and some will be irreplaceable.
In my personal life, my own family has speakers of an endangered language and endangered people. The art, history, religion, stories, and so much more is bound to be gone with the language. It loses its pertinence as the people stop speaking the language. My great grandmother determined the language to be superfluous knowledge in an English speaking world. In these decisions, languages fade, and unique thought patterns cannot be verbalized as easy as before.
My intention here is not to guilt the people of large language communities, nor to pressure people to learn more languages. Rather, value the languages around you and if that means learning a new language then do it. Preservation of culture may not have any meaning other than sentimental, but that is a motivation to some extent. I ask that you look at your own culture every now and again to see what the people who came before you had to say and what they thought, even if that involves a translation.
Hey Jacqueline, this is pretty neat. I have heard before that many languages are considered endangered, much like animals, but I didn’t really realize the sheer quantity of languages that fall under this category. I think it’s kind of sad that your grandmother deemed languages other than English “superfluous knowledge’, but I can understand why she feels that way. With so many countries learning English in order to better participate in the world market dominated by it, virtually everyone knows at least first-grade-level English. A website I found has a lot of statistics on languages that you might be interested in is:
Hope you can teach us more on this subject in the near future!
This is a very interesting topic because this is something we don’t see or talk about everyday. I like how you explain that we need to be more focused on this so we don’t lose it in the future. The fact that half the languages spoken today are endangered means that these languages most likely aren’t going to be used in the future. Without these languages, we will lose a lot of the culture that our ancestors grew up with and that needs to change. Here is an article I think you might like about the extinction of languages. https://www.linguisticsociety.org/content/what-endangered-language
Hi Jacqueline, I am intrigued by your topic. I agree that culture is really important for us and we don’t want to loose them. Especially for language, you said that ” more than half of the languages spoken today are considered endangered by linguists” which surprised me. I know some dialects in China are near extinction because younger generation tend to speak Mandarin at school or to their peers. Although they can understand the dialect, they can’t speak it with their family. If we loose our language, our culture, we will never get it back.
Here is a useful resource: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-languages/chinas-minority-languages-face-threat-of-extinction-idUSTRE62B0EW20100312