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Many languages in danger of dying out


Posted on Monday, 11 February, 2013 | Comment icon 22 comments


Image credit: sxc.hu

 
It is thought that by the year 2100 we will have lost half the languages that are in use today.

History shows us that languages used by smaller cultures tend to be most at risk of being lost. Every fourteen days another language disappears, so what can be done to stop this from happening ? In California, Eureka High has become the largest school in the state to launch a program aimed at keeping alive the declining Native-American language Yurok, which in the 1990s was down to only 6 native speakers. Now thanks to revitalization efforts there are more than 300 speakers including at least 17 who are considered fluent.

Elsewhere, The Endangered Language Project is working towards creating a comprehensive online database of endangered languages. With 141 stored thus far it is hoped that the work being carried out will keep these languages alive for future generations and stop them from disappearing entirely.

"Throughout human history, the languages of powerful groups have spread while the languages of smaller cultures have become extinct."

  View: Full article |  Source: Smithsonian Magazine

  Discuss: View comments (22)

   


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by Capt Amerika on 15 February, 2013, 14:57
I see no reason why we should care if the lesser used languages fade out of existence. Communication worldwide would actually improve if we had fewer language barriers. With that said, i would hope that someone is at least writing down something that would allow future generations the opportunity to translate anything they may come across that no one can read. Some sort of Rosetta stone if you will. As long as you can translate it if needed, i cant see how fewer languages is anything but a good thing.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Frank Merton on 15 February, 2013, 15:16
The problem of people from all over communicating is dealt with by have a lingua-franca (i.e., English) that everyone speaks. It is not necessary for other languages to become extinct. There are things about knowing several languages that it is hard to explain to the monolingual. There are ways of turning a phrase, forms of humor, rhyming and rhythm patterns, and things that can be said simply in one language that take verbose circumlocution to express in another. Also, words do not exactly translate. The boundaries of words differ, allowing metaphorical thinking that differs and literatu... [More]
Comment icon #15 Posted by Chooky88 on 16 February, 2013, 15:41
Seriously of all the things worth saving, languages are not it. Consider English. Even half a century ago English speakers spoke differently. Such as the word "gay". Do we realy care about preserving English from 1960? Do I really care what a Brazilian native calls a type of fish or an Aboriginal word for a small frog? Nope.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Tsa-La-Gie Oyate on 16 February, 2013, 16:11
Let's face it: languages are an important part of cultural diversity of humanity, and some peoples in the world are interested in not having to forcefully learn another language in the name of conformity by a host country. The immense beauty and linguistic arts of each endangered language should be taken seriously, because some cultures will disappear if their original native languages have. What if English was forcibly replaced by another language and nothing left was preserved, then you would feel threatened and your culture will no longer exist. The Cherokee Nation Anthem of the Che... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by Mikko-kun on 16 February, 2013, 16:19
Communication in the world doesn't improve with less languages, but deteriorates. It's true that there's language barriers, but the less languages you have, the less ways you have to express things in words. Each language has it's own concept of things, you notice this in more than just different structures... it's the cultures they stem from that bring those concepts to languages, and if you lose the language, you lose the way to communicate that concept in it's original meaning. It may be hard to understand if you've spoken only one language your entire life, but ... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by moonshadow60 on 16 February, 2013, 16:43
I know that not many people care, but I deeply regret the loss of the Swedish dialect my grandparents spoke. I only know a few words. While the prior generations lived, the language was alive. Now that they are gone, even their dialect has passed as it is no longer spoken in Sweden.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Bavarian Raven on 16 February, 2013, 17:57
I wish I had learned Saxon from my grandparents when I had the chance But ever since Communism ruined Transylvania, and my people were scattered, their dialect of 'Saxon' is quickly being lost. I know a few words but I wish i was fluent.
Comment icon #20 Posted by highdesert50 on 18 February, 2013, 12:54
If you pardon the pun, there is much to said in defense of a common language. But, there is a tremendous amount of uniquely and wonderfully evolved terminology that embraces an entire culture in the context of a native language. That it is an art, it needs to be recognized and preserved.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Frank Merton on 18 February, 2013, 13:05
It's an insoluble problem. We can and are saving vocabulary lists and grammatical rules and even where possible oral histories and literatures. This is all great and future historians and anthropologists will be grateful. Still, the language is lost, even with all that. The point of a language is to be fluent in it -- so fluent that you do not need to translate what you want to say from another language, and that you have all the little subtleties and minute differences in meaning as you move from language to language. These things cannot be preserved when the last native speakers are... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by WhyDontYouBeliEveMe on 19 February, 2013, 8:52
over a few hundreds years we all ll be speaking the same language , telepathic


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