Monday, September 24, 2007

Languages Dying Around the World

"Language is the blood of culture." -Catholicgauze during a seminar in 2003

Rare languages are dying around the world. Many dying languages are located in dying language hot spots located in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada, Oklahoma and the American Southwest, central South America, Eastern Siberia, and Northern Territory of Australia. These areas' "indigenous" populations have long been ignored and the need/desire for assimilation was neigh-on-nonexistent. However, greater integration is pushing speakers of these endangered languages to adopt the greater popular culture and abandon the old ways.

Many social scientists see this as a great danger. With the loss of language also comes the loss of customs and traditions. A culture is never the same when the language is defunct. Just compare 1800s Plains Sioux culture to the revivalist-revisionist culture today.

TDAXP has a unique tak
e on this story. Instead of seeing it as bad he sees a positive side. He sees it as integration creating new opportunities and cultural enrichment for all. He does have a point. Traditionally, immigrants to the United States abandoned their old tongues, adopted English, and enriched the melting pot. Do any readers care to offer their thoughts.

There are still many rare languages around the world. Africa, India, and Southwest Asia will probably be the last "hold outs" of rare languages due to physical remoteness of groups and political-economical disenfranchisement of groups which limit the need/desire of integration.


MaggieRose said...

I've always thought it a shame that in the US at least, (American) English is promoted as being superior to any other language. I think the "melting pot" theory is also unfortunate-- people should not be made to feel as though they have to suppress their culture and language in order to be American! Sadly, this attitude has spread to other countries, resulting in the loss of rare and beautiful languages. It is indeed unfortunate, particularaly when one considers all that may be lost along with the language--history, literature, music, even thought!

Eddie said...

Like many aspects of modernization and globalization, it represents both good and bad trends.

While tragic that a rich tapestry of cultures, history and perspectives is lost forever, it is beneficial that more people are able to communicate in a language or within a larger culture that allows them opportunities they previously would not have had.

Anonymous said...

Why would it be such a bad thing if the world spoke one language? Just look at the troubles languages cause in Canada, Belgium and Switzerland - some of the wealthiest, most advanced and best educated countries in the world. Would it have really been such a horror to mankind if the French-Canadians in Quebec had been assimialated like Ukranians who settled the praire provinces were? Or am I just a Neanderthal redneck who doesn't appreciate diversity?

Catholicgauze said...

Hi Anon,
I actually favor the dominance of one language. However, at the same time one cannot deny the rich value of other languages.