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lexico
20-01-05, 02:16
A statement from the International Linguistics Congress, 1992, Quebec:

As the disappearance of any one language constitues an irretrievable loss to mankind, it is for UNESCO a task of great urgency to respond to this situation by promoting and, if possible, sponsoring programs of linguistic organizations for the description in the form of grammars, dictionaries and texts, including the recording or oral literatures, of hitherto unstudied or inadequately documented endangered and dying languages.UNESCO's response at the General Assembly, Endangered Languages Project Progress Report, 1994:

Although its exact scope is not yet known, it is certain that the extinction of languages is progressing rapidly in many parts of the world, and it is of the highest importance that the linguistic profession realize that it has to step up its descriptive efforts.Response from the Foundation for Endangered Languages, 1995, London:

There is agreement among linguists who have considered the situation that over half of the world's languages are moribund, i.e. not effectively being passed on to the next generation. We and our children, then, are living at the point in human history where, whithin perhaps two generations, most languages in the world will die out.Do you think this is actually going to happen?

Do you think language description by linguists can help salvage some of the dying languages?

If your mother tongue isn't English, what do you think will happen to it in say 2100 in comparison to English?

W. Wayt Gibbs, Saving Dying Languages, Scientific American 2002:
http://www.language-archives.org/docs/sciam.pdf

David Crystal, Language Death, full text:
http://assets.cambridge.org/052101/2716/frontmatter/0521012716_frontmatter.pdf

UNESCO, Language Vitality and Endangerment:
http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/file_download.php/21b5446d3321dc495911144b59200105language_vitality_ and_endangerment.pdf

UNESCO, Safeguarding of Endangered Languages:
http://lesla.univ-lyon2.fr/IMG/pdf/doc-447.pdf

Links#1: http://www.unesco.org/most/ln2lin.htm#resources

Links#2: http://www.longnow.org/about/press.htm

Glenn
20-01-05, 02:36
I don't really care. I think that it's a good idea to document all languages so that we have an account of them for posterity, but if languages die out and we end up with only 100 languages in the world (or less), I think that it isn't such a big deal. It could help to ease communication with peoples all over the world.

lexico
20-01-05, 18:59
You might if you have the time to read this, Glenn-san. :genji:

The Redbook of the Peoples of the Russian Empire @ http://www.eki.ee/books/redbook/

More on the book @ http://www.redbook.ee/english.html

Preface to the book by Ants Viires, Ph. D.

INTRODUCTION
In the cliche ridden propaganda of the Soviet era tsarist Russia was frequently dubbed the Prison of nations. When the Soviets came into power this prison, by virtue of new national policies, transformed into a family of friendly and brotherly nations in whose bosom all the national cultures flourished. To boast of the achievements under the Communist Party leadership, grandiose cultural festivals were arranged in the Soviet republics, folkloristic dance, song and instrumental groups were established and the revival of old peasant culture was encouraged. The slogan socialist in content, nationalist in form, came to be applied to the new Soviet culture. Behind this deceptive facade of ethnographic originality, the tsarist prison of nations never ceased to exist: russification was carried out on a large scale, nationalist intellectuals were persecuted, a policy of extensive exploitation of land was pursued and nations were continuously resettled and mingled. The desired result was the birth of a new, Russian-speaking Soviet nation, and to lay the theoretical foundation for this a whole army of scholars was employed. The evolution of the Soviet nation was seen as the process of history within the cognizance of Marxist-Leninist principles which was as inevitable as the process of life itself.
The recent rapid collapse of the Soviet economic and political system has revealed the consequences of these brutal colonization policies: hundreds of culturally and economically crippled nations, with the smallest of them nearing the crucial point of extinction.

Similar developments have been observed in other parts of the world throughout the course of history. Brutal forces hiding behind beautiful slogans have been imposed on the weak and the small. Only in the second half of the 20th century has there been a painful attempt which has suffered from many setbacks to set out on a path of greater justice and mutual respect. The voices of all communities and groupings, however small, deserve to be heard in the large choir of mankind.

The authors of the present book, who come from a country (Estonia) which has shared the fate of nations in the Russian and Soviet empires, endeavour to publicize the plight of the small nations whose very existence is threatened as a result of recent history. Perhaps it is not too late to give a supporting hand to them without an attempt at either ideological brainwashing or economic exploitation.

Tallinn,
20th August 1993

On the occasion of the second anniversary of the restoration of independent statehood in Estonia.

No-name
20-01-05, 21:08
five hundred years ago, about five hundred languages from some twenty to forty distinct groups were spoken by the millions who inhabited North and South America. Two hundred years ago, the number was cut by more than half. Today, over 90% of the millions living in the Americas primarily speak one of four European languages. Almost all of the other languages are dead.

lexico
21-01-05, 19:37
Actually you pointed out two iteresting points of view:

I think that it's a good idea to document all languages so that we have an account of them for posterityWhy is documenting languages for posterity good? For keeping the linguists busy? Because of the innate curiosity by being human? I'd like to know more.
but if languages die out and we end up with only 100 languages in the world (or less), I think that it isn't such a big deal. It could help to ease communication with peoples all over the world.So you're saying that by having many languages, communication has been hindered, and with other losses as a result of it. Do you think we will have less problems arising from miscommunication if we had fewer languages, and if there were only one language left, if it were a more uniform one thruout the areas? Less conflict or wars, maybe? This is an interesting topic on its own, I think.

Glenn
24-01-05, 06:34
Actually you pointed out two iteresting points of view:
Why is documenting languages for posterity good? For keeping the linguists busy? Because of the innate curiosity by being human? I'd like to know more.

I think it's good to see how diverse human languages can be and also how similar they are. I suspect that it could also give insight into where modern languages may be headed. Also, having them recorded allows for more accurate historical analysis, which I believe to be important. What would we know about ancient Egypt if we knew nothing of hieroglyphics? If there are languages that exist in spoken form only then this wouldn't apply, but I'm not sure that there are any of those. In such a case I think that it would be of interest to linguists; I'm not sure it would be useful beyond that.


So you're saying that by having many languages, communication has been hindered, and with other losses as a result of it. Do you think we will have less problems arising from miscommunication if we had fewer languages, and if there were only one language left, if it were a more uniform one thruout the areas? Less conflict or wars, maybe? This is an interesting topic on its own, I think.

I'm saying that fewer languages means that more people speak a common language, and that eases communication between people in general. I'm sure there would still be plenty of conflict and wars, however.

Zauriel
03-05-05, 20:12
That is a shame. One language's death is the death of a culture.

Spaniards should never have destroyed most of the languages in the Latin America.

Kama
03-05-05, 23:44
I don't really care. I think that it's a good idea to document all languages so that we have an account of them for posterity, but if languages die out and we end up with only 100 languages in the world (or less), I think that it isn't such a big deal. It could help to ease communication with peoples all over the world.

That's a clear idiotism.

I suppose, that you don't understand that language is a very important part of culture. It reflects the values, history, culture of the group (nation, ethnic group etc.) Your world lies in your language. The words you are using shapes your world (I agree on this with Suzuki).

I wouldn't ever give up my identity just for some assholes to easier communicate with me.

There will be always FEW common languages, depending on the area of the world. You will always have to learn other languages to communicate. I don't see where you have problem. You can talk to a lot of people using English. Want to talk even more? Learn more languages.

Also common language has a culture of their native speakers. I can't believe f.ex. Polish now becoming an English native speaker, cause it's just don't get together at all. English doesn't reflect points of view Polish has. So it's quite impossible to use it as a first language for Polish.

"I missed a bus" is in Polish "Bus escaped me". (this is literal translation). Changing language means changing culture. And I don't think it's a good idea. In my country's history there were attempts to destroy my language and thus my nation. Luckily, it didn't succeed.

Glenn
04-05-05, 01:55
I don't see where you have problem. You can talk to a lot of people using English. Want to talk even more? Learn more languages.

I don't see where I have a problem either, because I said:


I don't really care.

I am learning more languages, by the way.


I wouldn't ever give up my identity just for some assholes to easier communicate with me.

Uh, I never asked you to give up your language at all, nor have I asked anyone to give up their language. All I said was that I don't really care if some languages died out at some point in the future. It doesn't have to be genocide that kills a language: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_death.

On a related note, you could say that Old English is a dead language now, because the English we speak is far removed from it. This occured due to borrowing (http://www.sf.airnet.ne.jp/~ts/japanese/message/jpnEYBR1AhTEY8a1wHm.html). Is that such a bad thing? Cultures change over time, and if they change enough to allow 100 languages in the world I don't think it'll be a big deal.

By the way, Cajun French is dying out. I think that soon it will be dead, like in the next fifty years. I don't really see this as a bad thing. We do, however, still have words in our local lexicon from the language even though the language isn't used. Also, there are some usages in our local English that most likely follow the Cajun French phrasings, so perhaps the culture isn't going to die completely. So the death of the language isn't that big a deal to me.

One more thing, are you really that upset that Latin, Ancient Greek, Ancient Egyptian, Arimatheic, etc. are all no more?

Ikyoto
04-05-05, 03:44
Language, like cultures, grow and change. CLinging t a culture or languge for the sake of zeonphobia is what causes some problems. Keeping a language alive as a sence of history and cultural respect is a healthy psychological process.

But in the end ALL languages change drastically over time. The languages spoken 500 years ago were different enough so taht even if you are from tath culture and the vocabulary is essentially the same, the context, syntax and structure would be almost like another language.

Go back another 1,000 and you would be hard pressed to understand anyone!

Languages and cultures atha have more exposure to others grow and adapt quicker. Those that do not will unfortunatly find themselves squeezed into smaler and smaller populations as the rest of the world becomes more global in nature.

I for one enjoy diversity and hope that people who do not speak the same language as me keep their language "pure", and when i travel I try to learn enough to be able to make myself understood - But on the other side a globally acceptable language woudl help defuse a LOT of problems!

Shas
04-05-05, 04:58
thats definitely true - the german language is allready full with american and english terms and its getting a lot less german.

i dont like this development

Kama
04-05-05, 08:36
If there are borrowings form the dead language in another language, it doesn't mean that the culture is alive.

And languages evolve. They change with time, it doesn't mean that the old language is dead.

I tried to show you that the cultures won't ever allow 100 languages to be spoken all over the world, because choosing another language changes the culture. There are no 2 the same languages which could do. Language and culture is strongly related.

And yes, I do care that these languages do not exist. It's a pity, really. I'd like to speak Aramean, it's a fine language. :)

Ikyoto
04-05-05, 12:58
As far as German being full of English and American words, well... English is made up of a lot of words and the sentence structure of German.

The one semester course I took in Linguistics (History of Language) had a great line in one of the papers I saw - "To speak English you should learn to do both of the following. Speak German with a Frecnh accent and French with a German accent."

It's not something to fear. It is something to watch grow. You are seeing evolution of language in your lifetime. It happens. The only way to stop it is by isolating the culture as closely to 100% as you can, and that would result in stagnation.

bossel
04-05-05, 19:26
It's not something to fear. It is something to watch grow. You are seeing evolution of language in your lifetime. It happens. The only way to stop it is by isolating the culture as closely to 100% as you can, and that would result in stagnation.
Even total isolation wouldn't mean stagnation. Languages evolve continually with or without foreign factors. Even inside one language you have so many (regional, social, functional) variations that it's virtually impossible to preserve the language as it is at one stage of its development.

Martialartsnovice
04-05-05, 23:01
Yeah But still, Can Linguists predict which languages will survive. I think English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, French, Japanese and German. Might survive, but what about Polish, Korean, etc. will these languages and cultures fade into time, as a lost memory.

Kama
04-05-05, 23:50
Why should Polish fade away?

lexico
07-05-05, 15:41
Should the world become uniform, it would only mean that the ability to cope with new challenges will get so much more diminished.
The unifromity of our human community will turn into the achilles' heel at some dramatic point after which civilization as we know it, or the biological continuation of the human species will all come to an end.
Language diversity is one measure for the human capacity to cope; losing that will be the harbinger of ultimate doom, cultural or biological.

Hey, Kama, why don't we start language threads so Polish and Korean, among others, do not perish for the sake of all humanity. :-)

Mycernius
07-05-05, 16:56
I think in order for a language to survive it must adapt and evolve. Fair enough a lot of native languages in the Americas and Australia were forced to exinction by the controlling authorities of the countries. By making the population speak the offical language and supressing the local languages the children will eventually start to speak the dominating language. This was usually done by making out that the native languages were primitive and rough compared to the offical language, see Provencal, Breton as examples of the government oppressing local languages. Nowadays people are starting to see that minority languages are worth preserving, although they are still oppressing native languages in Australia, and people are working to keep these languages alive. Unfortunalty in a world that is 24/7 and English becoming the common language of the world it is an uphill struggle and many will die and fade away. I personally see the dominating languages of the future be English and Spanish. Both languages are willing to adapt to the enviornment and change in world culture. In fact there might be a time when the two languages might merge and a different could evolve from the two. Unfortuantly, and this might upset a few people, I see French, once a world language, become less and less used as the french government itself could end up killing it because they will not let the language expand and evolve. It will stagnate and the younger generations woyuld drift towards English or Spanish instead. There are offical French words for the Weekend and Areoplane, but how many french people actually use then instead of the anglified forms in french? You could say in a hundred years time that only the older generations of a lot of countries will be able to speak their native language as the younger generation will only want to learn the languages that are important to them to get on in a smaller and smaller world.

Kama
08-05-05, 08:16
Should the world become uniform, it would only mean that the ability to cope with new challenges will get so much more diminished.
The unifromity of our human community will turn into the achilles' heel at some dramatic point after which civilization as we know it, or the biological continuation of the human species will all come to an end.
Language diversity is one measure for the human capacity to cope; losing that will be the harbinger of ultimate doom, cultural or biological.

Hey, Kama, why don't we start language threads so Polish and Korean, among others, do not perish for the sake of all humanity. :-)

I agree.

Yes, we could do that. What exactly should we write?

BTW, learning Korean I suppose I know how foreigners feels about Polish. How do you manage to learn this? ;)


Mycernius, all languages adapt to the world. Sometimes just their linguists don't. :P

I don't like too many foreign words in Polish. I heard things like "moje hery" ("my hair") where hery is polish declension of english word while of course we have "włosy" (hair). Foreing words are not always desirable.

Glenn
11-05-05, 01:22
If there are borrowings form the dead language in another language, it doesn't mean that the culture is alive.

Sounds like you're saying language = culture to me. I disagree. I believe culture is made up of many factors, language being one of them.


And languages evolve. They change with time, it doesn't mean that the old language is dead.

So Latin and Old English aren't dead?



I must admit that I'm at a loss as to why you attacked me in the first place with this:


That's a clear idiotism.

and then proceeded with a bunch of responses to things I never said. I'll quote my original message again:


I don't really care. I think that it's a good idea to document all languages so that we have an account of them for posterity, but if languages die out and we end up with only 100 languages in the world (or less), I think that it isn't such a big deal. It could help to ease communication with peoples all over the world.

Let me rephrase this so that it may be clearer. I said that I don't care if half of the world languages go extinct by 2060. Here's a list of some other things I don't care about:

- who wins the NBA Finals
- who wins the World Cup
- what kind of bacteria live in Antarctica
- whether there are pigeons in Calcutta
- whether my neighbors smoke pot all the time
- whether my neighbors fail their finals

This doesn't mean that I have a preference about any of the above; in fact, it means the opposite. I have no preference about any of them. As a result, whatever happens with them I don't see as a big deal. The last sentence was looking for a possible advantage in having only 100 languages in the world. How you turned that into my wanting the destruction of languages is not clear to me, but I get the feeling that it has something to do with this:


In my country's history there were attempts to destroy my language and thus my nation. Luckily, it didn't succeed.

I was talking about natural evolution of languages, anyway, like the extinction of the dinosaurs was natural. I in no way endorsed the idea of extinguishing languages.


I tried to show you that the cultures won't ever allow 100 languages to be spoken all over the world, because choosing another language changes the culture. There are no 2 the same languages which could do. Language and culture is strongly related.

So are you saying that you don't believe the linguists' prediction that half of the world's languages will be extinct by 2060? If so, it would have been better to respond to the original post. Also, I'm not so sure I agree with you here, either, because many languages have gone extinct already, with many more to come, and culture didn't stop that from happening.

Kama
11-05-05, 08:56
So Latin and Old English aren't dead?

Latin is dead, because nobody speaks it. There is no nation/group who speaks this language.

English evolve through the time. Old English is just a period in the life of English, so it isn't a language that can be dead or not.




I was talking about natural evolution of languages, anyway, like the extinction of the dinosaurs was natural. I in no way endorsed the idea of extinguishing languages.

Tell me what languages diednaturally, without any help of human, then.



So are you saying that you don't believe the linguists' prediction that half of the world's languages will be extinct by 2060? If so, it would have been better to respond to the original post. Also, I'm not so sure I agree with you here, either, because many languages have gone extinct already, with many more to come, and culture didn't stop that from happening.

And how their culture changed after change of language? For a change of language in a group there MUST be a change in their culture.

Small languages can die. But with help of human. Go to the bigger town to look for a job, and they use official language, etc. It is not favored to be speaking minority's language in today's word. Everywhere they want a standard language. And young people goes for it, it's easier. And where the old ones die, the language die too. But I wouldn't call this "natural extinction".

many people are against dialects, and others are often discouraged from using something other than standard language. this isn't natural way of language extinction.

the only natural way, is when all the people die.

Mycernius
11-05-05, 20:23
Latin is dead, because nobody speaks it. There is no nation/group who speaks this language.

English evolve through the time. Old English is just a period in the life of English, so it isn't a language that can be dead or not.

Didn't latin evolve through time to become Italian? Therefore, by your argument, Latin isn't a dead language.



Tell me what languages diednaturally, without any help of human, then.


Mayan and earlier mesoamerican languages.

Small languages can die. But with help of human. Go to the bigger town to look for a job, and they use official language, etc. It is not favored to be speaking minority's language in today's word. Everywhere they want a standard language. And young people goes for it, it's easier. And where the old ones die, the language die too. But I wouldn't call this "natural extinction".
Most of this I agree with. It is seen in Australia and North America with the tribal languages. As for natural extinction, the phrase can be a bit grey in nature. As a dominate language come to the fore the other languages die out. It is what happened to Etruscan when Latin took hold in the Roman Empire. As Latin became popular people just stopped using Etruscan. So it died out as the native speakers became latin speakers. You could say this is natural. In nature if a stronger species comes into the frame the weaker die.

Glenn
12-05-05, 00:31
Latin is dead, because nobody speaks it. There is no nation/group who speaks this language.

English evolve through the time. Old English is just a period in the life of English, so it isn't a language that can be dead or not.

Adding to Mycernius's comments --
Nobody speaks Old English either, and I consider it very different from English, almost to the point of being a different language. So to me, it's a dead language. Also, what about all of the proto-european languages that became other languages through evolution? Would you say that they are still alive as well, or would you just say that they were a period in the life of other languages, as Latin was for the Romance languages?


And how their culture changed after change of language? For a change of language in a group there MUST be a change in their culture.

That's a change, that's not the death of the culture. That could be looked at as part of the evolution of the culture. Is that such a bad thing? People (in general) don't speak Latin anymore, and people (in general) don't think women are inherently inferior to men anymore. You could say that both are a change in culture.


That's a clear idiotism.

It doesn't look so clear to me.

duff_o_josh
04-06-05, 14:14
Yeah But still, Can Linguists predict which languages will survive. I think English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, French, Japanese and German. Might survive, but what about Polish, Korean, etc. will these languages and cultures fade into time, as a lost memory.
if languages go extinct japanese will be one of them do to the popularity of learning other languages in japan. all people do is talk about korean, chinese and english.

zvira
29-01-10, 14:51
French, German, Chinese will not dissapear, within 300 years, these languages are too popular

LeBrok
01-02-10, 19:58
2060 too soon. But at 3000 we might have one global language.
Though with genetic enhancements of future generation, it'll be super easy for our far future descendants to learn 10 or more languages. That will surely put a damper on one future language theory. Languages with strong history, population, movies and literature might never go extinct, so much so, that Latin and Old Greek might come back just for the enjoyment of ancient literature.

ashendant
23-02-10, 23:48
Well in my opinion some languages are doomed to die crushed by the languages with more power in Europe when between 49%-51% of EU members population can speak english, with about 1.8 billions of total speakers around the world i only see the power of English rising, then there's the chinese and iberian languages which are growing the first much more since chinese's rise to power, it's just a matter of time for the ONE languange and the ONE culture

Maciamo
24-02-10, 01:42
it's just a matter of time for the ONE languange and the ONE culture

It will never happen simply because language and culture vary with social class, natural genetic predispositions of characters among each ethnicity, and lifestyle which varies a lot according to the climate and environment.

Even if English were to take over the world, new varieties of English would quickly evolved in different parts of the world, becoming at first dialects with local slang, then different languages.

Despite modern telecommunications, the English spoken in North America, Britain and Australia keep evolving apart from each others - they do not become closer.

edao
24-02-10, 14:22
Despite modern telecommunications, the English spoken in North America, Britain and Australia keep evolving apart from each others - they do not become closer.


While that might be true its all still regarded them as the same language, and modern education standard are unlikely to allow a significant evolution over time. Also the cultural exchange between the USA and other English speaking countries if fairly high to the point we use words like 'cool', 'man', and 'later' in new ways, showing how the dominant culture is influencing how the language is spoken in the other countries.

bcrich67
18-09-10, 20:37
It will never happen simply because language and culture vary with social class, natural genetic predispositions of characters among each ethnicity, and lifestyle which varies a lot according to the climate and environment.

Even if English were to take over the world, new varieties of English would quickly evolved in different parts of the world, becoming at first dialects with local slang, then different languages.

Despite modern telecommunications, the English spoken in North America, Britain and Australia keep evolving apart from each others - they do not become closer.

I agree entirely. Despite the fact that modern education standards will try to keep the english language the same, people will invariably try to put their own perspectives on it.

Many individuals in this thread seem to be blindly championing the sapir-whorf hypothesis in its strongest form, which would be a phallacy. The change of a language would have a big influnce on the culture, but would not destroy it or change it entirely. The people of said culture would still have a unique outlook and thus, a different way of thinking about the world.

Michael Folkesson
21-01-11, 23:39
We roughly speak some 6,500 languages in the world today, and languages seem to die out every year or so. I read a statement by Stuart Pimm, where he claims that the languages that will be passed on to our children will be some 600. I wouldn't be surprised if we land at some 200 languages in the world in a couple of generations only. Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if that was totally wrong either.

Many languages have died out, and do die out regularly. Just look at the Celtic languages, once spoken throughout Europe.

I was more concerned about this before than I am now. I don't find it to be of such a big deal as I felt it was. My own language Swedish is a Scandinavian dialect. I can speak with other Scandinavian in my language with some occasional confusion. But I couldn't possibly speak with an Icelander. Once our languages were basically the same. Languages come and go, and they do change. And if they change into something unintelligible, it is in practice a whole other language.

I suspect that Swedish is spoken by enough people to survive but that it will change in the distant future to a Swedish I would not understand, meaning that the current Swedish that I speak will in practice be dead in time as well. With that in mind, we could just as well change from speaking Swedish into speaking French or Mandarin.

Don't take me wrong. Language is important, and culture is what makes us... us.

With the independence of Latvia, the country took a stand to fight for it's culture and language, due to decades of russification. I sympathize with that. The language do carry a big part of a peoples cultural soul.

Hebrew was basically a dead language a couple of generations ago, functioning only as a liturgic language. The revival of it as a spoken language with the birth of Israel is unprecedented.

In Iceland they are very protective of their language. It has been easier for them since they have been somewhat geographically isolated, even though the whole population of that island is like a medium European city.

But is it of vital importance that we keep all of our languages? We will always have language, and it seems less of importance which one it is as long as it is of use to us. I have lived in several countries. I am still me. I will still be me, and still be Swedish even if I never speak Swedish again.

Yes, language is important, but not as important as I ones thought. For the most - excluding genocide or anything from that part of the city - if a language dies out, it does so for a good reason.

I find it hard to believe though that we will get just a handful or one single world language even given time, and I still strongly believe that we Europeans need to learn and speak a couple of our Union languages, other than English.

Regulus
22-01-11, 04:10
I find it to a terribly sad thing to see the amount of spoken languages decline the rate we see at this point in history.

I am not sure what should be done about it. I would like to see resources committed to preserve as much as possible, but I can't be certain of how much of a practical effect it would have. The most obvious would be to at least have not just the vocabulary and mechanics of the language, but a good idea if its intricacies, such as mentioned above "the bus escaped me" as opposed to "I missed the bus". (Not that I see Polish in particular going anywhere soon)

What happened here in the US and other places is to be sorely lamented. Language is such a major factor in a culture. It provides not only a preservation of some modes of local thought, but a tangible connection with a people's past and identity.

Some American writers in the 19th century, flush with proud ideas of the destiny of the US, confidently predicted that American English would change so much that it would become in effect mutually unintelligible with English. The breakthroughs in communications that the world has seen in the last 100+ years have put that idea largely to rest. American English regional accents themselves are steadily slipping away here, and how many Americans really don't know what a "loo" or a "lift" are?

The world in approaching a type of monoculture in many ways. Invasive animals, foci on production of particular types of productive foods, a global economy with corporations operating in multiple countries, and a possible minimal amount of languages up the road ahead all contribute to a less diverse world.

Imagine if we did not have the work of Jacob Grim, who saw what was happening with different forms of German, probably including what may have been left of the Eastern Branch, and set out to record as much of it as possible. I find his research fascinating. When finding it difficult to get isolated village people to "open up" to a nosy stranger, he changed gears and asked them to begin telling stories in their language.

LeBrok
22-01-11, 06:28
We roughly speak some 6,500 languages in the world today, and languages seem to die out every year or so. I read a statement by Stuart Pimm, where he claims that the languages that will be passed on to our children will be some 600. I wouldn't be surprised if we land at some 200 languages in the world in a couple of generations only. Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if that was totally wrong either.

Many languages have died out, and do die out regularly. Just look at the Celtic languages, once spoken throughout Europe.

I was more concerned about this before than I am now. I don't find it to be of such a big deal as I felt it was. My own language Swedish is a Scandinavian dialect. I can speak with other Scandinavian in my language with some occasional confusion. But I couldn't possibly speak with an Icelander. Once our languages were basically the same. Languages come and go, and they do change. And if they change into something unintelligible, it is in practice a whole other language.

I suspect that Swedish is spoken by enough people to survive but that it will change in the distant future to a Swedish I would not understand, meaning that the current Swedish that I speak will in practice be dead in time as well. With that in mind, we could just as well change from speaking Swedish into speaking French or Mandarin.

Don't take me wrong. Language is important, and culture is what makes us... us.

With the independence of Latvia, the country took a stand to fight for it's culture and language, due to decades of russification. I sympathize with that. The language do carry a big part of a peoples cultural soul.

Hebrew was basically a dead language a couple of generations ago, functioning only as a liturgic language. The revival of it as a spoken language with the birth of Israel is unprecedented.

In Iceland they are very protective of their language. It has been easier for them since they have been somewhat geographically isolated, even though the whole population of that island is like a medium European city.

But is it of vital importance that we keep all of our languages? We will always have language, and it seems less of importance which one it is as long as it is of use to us. I have lived in several countries. I am still me. I will still be me, and still be Swedish even if I never speak Swedish again.

Yes, language is important, but not as important as I ones thought. For the most - excluding genocide or anything from that part of the city - if a language dies out, it does so for a good reason.

I find it hard to believe though that we will get just a handful or one single world language even given time, and I still strongly believe that we Europeans need to learn and speak a couple of our Union languages, other than English.

Exactly my point of view too. Thanks for putting my thoughts in coherent and easy to read form Michael. :)

Reinaert
09-03-11, 23:21
Languages change every day. They will not disappear.

A European will never learn to speak Chinese.

Dagne
16-04-11, 19:09
The changes in languages happen at a different speed. The speed of change may well be increasing nowadays, it is true. However, we still have some words and gramatical structures as they were believed to be in Proto-Indo European or in Sanskrit

For instant the main Proto-Indoeuropean God is said to be Perkūnas (Zeus in Greek mitology) which is exactly the same in modern Lithuanian meaning "thunder", or the God of Thunder, which we know from our folktales.
I can still sort of figure out a proverb in sanskrit: God gave us teeth God will give us bread

Lithuanian-Dievas dave dantis,Dievas duos ir duonos.
Sanskrit-Devas adat datas,Devas dasyati dhanas.


The distance between modern Lithuanian and Sanskrit is very significant (R1a connection), but the language hasn't changed that much as one might have expected ...

barbarian
16-04-11, 21:32
lets say english will be much more popular and will be 2nd language of the world (if it is not now) in about 50 years.

but native languages will never die.

LeBrok
17-04-11, 00:28
Never say never. :)
Smaller languages, not mentioning dialects are dying already, and faster than ever.
Take a country where minorities live. The minorities were isolated in the past and lived in their own world, almost. Now with TV, internet, public schooling system and main official language, young generation is loosing interest in sustaining mother tongue.
Give it another 100 years and few generations and almost every country will have only one language. Many countries are former colonies, and already use one of major world languages as official language. In a hundred years there will be about 100 languages left, and everyone speaking English and Chinese too.
There are about 7,000 listed languages today. Most of them survived or even began because of isolation of the groups. In future world there will be no isolation in ever smaller global village, no need for 7000 tongues.

LeBrok
17-04-11, 00:45
That’s interesting Dagne, I didn’t realize that Sanskrit and Lithuanians are still so close.

Dagne
17-04-11, 08:42
Well, for Lithuania the issue is not so much about the loss of a language but the extintion of the nation as such. Since 1992 the population reduced by almost 10% due to negative growth and emigration. It is believed that population will decrease by 24% by 2060... So with this rate of negative growth and aging population the prospects for Lithuania as a country seem quite bleak...

Strange, during 1940-1952 Lithuania lost about 1/3 of the population, but was able to recover, whereas the current trend seems to be quite irreversible. It is typical for many Eastern European countries, ie. Ukraine. This extinction thread has been explained differently, but I think in there will always be fewer children in those societies where women are supposed to earn the living for the family. (Could that be a reason for Neanderthal’s extinction? J)
Or it could be that society becomes more egoistic and greedy focusing on material goods which again results in fewer children. One way or another, the fact is that the world belongs to countries with large families like in India.

Dagne
17-04-11, 08:59
That’s interesting Dagne, I didn’t realize that Sanskrit and Lithuanians are still so close.

Lithuanian is said to be a very conservative language, and Lithuanians are very pround of it. Practically, there are some basic words which are similar to Sanskrit (and also in other indoeuropean languages), and there are some similarities in grammar, (I am, you are, they are, etc.), which makes it easier to learn for those who know Latin or Old Greek http://vilnews.com/?p=4425;

barbarian
17-04-11, 10:37
.........

I still strongly believe that we Europeans need to learn and speak a couple of our Union languages, other than English.

with the increasing dominance of english, i believe, there will be no need for an additional EU language other than english. however, there will be need for chinese and indian language. i saw about 20 german in Beijing studying chinese. the needs come from economical reasons, since, i guess, chinese (and japanese) people hardly speak/learn english.

in ottoman, french was popular in 1800 's, after revolution. The german was 2nd lang. when german system was dominant in army. in republic time, you could select one of french, german or english in the schools as a second language. these days, almost everybody selects english and most of the schools provide french and german only for 3rd language after english.

with rise of south american economy, spanish may also be more important in the future.

Carlitos
17-04-11, 17:05
Regional languages ​​are doomed to disappear. The choice of a language for international use may change depending on economic need of the time, of a change at the global level, easily change the choice of language for international use since the link with that language would be only in the commercial area not emotional.

Reinaert
17-04-11, 19:06
I don't agree. Every language has a tendency to split itself in different varieties.
A global language isn't logic. It never has been.
Evolution is logic, and with it comes diversion.
Culture is also a regional affair.
The drive from the political right to come to a new world order is a nightmare.
One empire, one people, one language, one religion, one leader...
When did we hear that before?

zanipolo
19-04-11, 11:40
Regional languages and dialects appear as languages once a nation is created. example Montengrian was a dialect , once Montenegro was created, Montegrian language was created. with this creation, it became the official language of Montenegro. This gaurantees its existance.

Have you ever seen a nation with a dialect as its official language....no. This is because the terminology of a dialect or language ( same things ) are treated equally , except a language has a government.

This thing happened to yugoslavia as well, serbian was the official language, and craotian, slovenian, bosnian, montengrian where dialects, but once they got independence , these dialects became languages overnight.

There is no world body that can dictate to anyone what is a language and what is a dialect.

moral is that languages and dialects exist IF the nation in question allows it

Brett142
06-06-11, 05:37
I don't think any major languages will die. I do however think that English (if it already isn't) will become the world's 'Common tongue'. I think in the future most people will speak English, but that doesn't mean they have to forget or not use all of their native languages, it would be a boring world if that were the case but for the sake of mankind I think we all need to learn one language as a common tongue, and that is obviously going to be English.

I don't think Chinese (Mandarin) will ever replace English because it is simply far too different from almost every other language on earth, and lets face it, who wants to bother learning their alphabet, which I'm sorry is just too damn complicated. English is far too well established already, another reason why Mandarin won't replace it.

Also with mainly India but Pakistan, Malaysia and Nigeria (to name a few) having English quite well established already amongst politicians, universities and science, then English will have standing in the major powers of tomorrow, as well as the speakers it has already has. It is pretty much undefeatable.

Cimmerianbloke
26-08-11, 01:10
Actually, Kama, Latin is still spoken every day by a few million people around the globe. Classical and medieval latin are indeed extinct languages, but romance languages, french, italian, spanish, catalan, romanian are direct offsprings of latin, and a lot of idioms have survived from classical times. Et Caetera, aquarium, padre, the list ist impressive. Languages are often compared to living entities by linguists. As organic beings, they are born, they grow, spread, decline and eventually die. The modern lifestyle and spreading of education only speeds up the process. Because culture is specific to the human race, it is a sensible thing to do to try to take care of them and sometimes help them to survive beyond their natural deathpoint.

Franco
19-11-11, 23:56
It is interesting how mentality has changed about this matter over centuries. In ancient times multiplicity of languages was considered as something negative, a sort of God's punishment so men were condemned to not being able to understand each other. During the Middle Ages this conception survived until the outbreak of Protestantism, and later Romanticism and Nationalism. From then on particularity of languages began to gain consideration progressively until nowadays when language preservation can be considered even a religion for some (nationalists in Europe like the catalans, basques, etc) . Personally I don't pay as much importance to linguistic diversity as to being able to use a world lingua franca. The last thing serves me for a practical purpose, the former one does not. Some may say both things can coexist, maybe, but inevitably as long as more people begin to use a lingua franca other languages must die. I'm not saying it will happen soon, just in the long run. Similar processes happened before, for example pre-roman tongues died out in the Iberian peninusla in favor of Latin (aside from Basque).

dony
20-10-13, 15:17
Zauriel : That is a shame. One language's death is the death of a culture.

Spaniards should never have destroyed most of the languages in the Latin America.

Sorry, maybe you are talking about the British and later the United-Statesians on the Northern part of the continent, currently Bolivia has like official languages(apart from español) : aimara, araona, ayoreo, baure, besiro, canichana, cavineño, cayubaba, chácobo, chimán, ese ejja, guaraní, guarasu’we (pauserna), guarayu, itonama, leco, machineri, mojeño- trinitario, mojeño-ignaciano, more, mosetén, movima, pacawara, quechua, reyesano, sirionó, tacana, tapieté, toromona, uru-chipaya, weenhayek, yaminawa, yuki and yuracaré.

Additionally, Guaraní , Quechua and Aimara are living languages in Paraguay, Ecuador, and Peru respectively .

albanopolis
20-10-13, 21:10
This is a topic I know a bit, thanks to 3 college linguistic courses. There are about 6700 languages spoken today.Many of them in years to come will disappear. But about 100 of them will remain for another 5 000 years at least. Languages will profoundly change. English will feed their dictionary for another 500 years the way latin has influenced any other european language. In other words many existing languages will end up becoming creole.

MOESAN
25-10-13, 23:02
I think every people or tribe has to preserve its language IF IT WANT IT - preserving rare restricted languages is a good thing for scientists or amateurs only -
as a lot of men or women do, every nation or tribe or cultural group of any sort can KEEP ON WITH ITS LANGUAGE AND PASS IT TO FOLLOWING GENERATIONS

MOESAN
25-10-13, 23:12
... GENERATIONS, what does not it to learn some "INTERNATIONAL" or "KOINE" commercial language - we see everyday scientists of any origin doing with a kind of basic international english sufficient to positive and precise exchanges; some well known languages can do it as latine in old Europe: english, spanish, russian, hindi, mandarine, arabic...
it is true I feel a bit sad when I see languages I'm aware of dying around me...
and it is true also, language communication without ancient background sharings does not protect us against other kinds of communication problems, lack of concern, absurd exhausting indidividualist competition, bad trade... and we know: the biggest the group of exchanges, the scarcest the solidarity -