Q&A Time: Why not let languages die?

And I know I just posted, but I wanted to respond to a question Andy asked in response to the post before that. It’s a question I get a lot, so I may as well make the answer accessible.

Andreo :

Why are you opposed to language death? I haven’t given it much thought, so I’m not sure how I feel about it. Languages change all the time, right? So what’s the big deal? Maybe we’ll all end up speaking major languages, minority ones will die out, and then in a few centuries, it’ll all split up again. Unless you’re into the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Then I could see the argument for preserving linguistic diversity.

I’m not into Sapir-Whorf, but linguistic diversity is still worth preserving.  There are linguistic phenomena which exist in only a few languages–if we allow them to die, we don’t get the opportunity to study those phenomena which could be key to helping us understand language as a whole.

I’m also opposed to language death because language is a big part of culture.  When a community loses its language, it’s never something they do by choice, and it’s not something they can give back. Sure, there’s economic power in speaking a national tongue, but is that worth losing the ability to appreciate your culture’s stories, poetry, songs, jokes, etc.? You’re always going to lose something in translation.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: