2,500 Languages Disappearing
An interactive map of endangered languages, showing 2,500 out of 6,000 tongues at risk, has been released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The international organization asks users to contribute comments to a project that has many bloggers worried about preserving cultures.
Some of the things that bloggers had to say:
We need to prize bio-diversity, cultural and racial diversity, and linguistic diversity because we lose too much by becoming homogenized into one big, white, English-speaking society.
Why do we insist on romanticizing ancient languages that arguably noone wants to speak anymore? What about the hundreds of new programming languages that have sprung up in the past decades? Or the infinite variations of English that people are adopting and “remixing” to make their own around the world?
“We as human beings should care about this in the same way as we should care about the loss of the world’s variety of plants and animals, its biodiversity,” said Christopher Moseley, editor-in-chief of the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. “Because each language is a uniquely structured world of thought, with its own associations, metaphors, ways of thinking, vocabulary, sound system and grammar – all working together in a marvellous architectural structure which is so fragile that it could easily be lost forever.”
The modern world plays its part. A once healthy language dies because its speakers shift allegiances to that of a bigger, more powerful group of people, and, while this can happen through political pressure and military force, it is now most often brought about by the flood of migration from the country to the city. Perhaps unsurprisingly, two of the countries where the risk is greatest are India and Brazil, which are undergoing rapid economic transformations. “[These trends] often bring about the loss of traditional ways of life and a strong pressure to speak a dominant language that is – or is perceived to be – necessary for full civic participation and economic advancement,” said Unesco.
Also read an earlier post on “Preserving Local Languages“