The Preservation of Endangered Languages

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Nov 30, 2014 17:01
Language extinction seems not a new phenomenon nowadays as many minority languages are in an increasingly dangerous situation in which they are very likely to disappear in the near future. A number of people believe that there is no value in stopping this, because fewer languages may make it easier for people to communicate. I disagree with this point of view, because I think the extinction of many languages may have some negative effects in our lives, and thus it is crucial to protect them.

Admittedly, against the background of globalization, especially with the advent of the Internet, people tend to find out the dominant languages such as English are more useful in economic or cultural activities. Even those minority language speakers may gravitate towards those dominant ones because of their ubiquitous presence in every aspect of life, hence language shits that happen in many tribes. Furthermore, teaching those minority languages can be a waste of educational resources, especially when they are not useful or prestigious as they used to be. The resources can give way to other subjects like math, programming, etc. Meanwhile, not studying a futile language definitely makes an easier schooling life for students.

However, the easier life brought by fewer languages does not necessarily mean that there is no need to protect them, which is very crucial because it may have various positive effects. First, linguistics have always been interested in unveiling the common underlying structures of human languages. If many languages die out, then they would not have adequate data to do the relevant research, which can be a huge loss to science. Second, there may be also loss of cultural information. The cultural diversity has been a drive force of human civilization throughout history. This may be weakened by the death of many languages; after all, some useful and interesting information that intrinsically belongs to those languages can be lost.

In my opinion, although fewer languages can make life simpler for us, some actions can be taken to preserve them. Taking a snapshot of these languages, such as video and audio recording, compiling dictionaries, can be one of the feasible ways.