The death of language?

The BBC reported on radio about the rapid decline of spoken languages.

My grandparents’ language has received offical status in Germany and it actively being promoted, but as to its future, who knows…

typo : is being promoted

I feel that my native language Japanese is falling into decline in some academic areas as a written language. The English language as a spoken and written language might be also falling into decline by its diffusion across the world.

( I repost my message. You can see how my last post was corrected by an English tutor. )
I feel that my native language, Japanese, is falling into decline in some academic areas as a written language. The English language, as a spoken and written language, might also be falling into decline by its diffusion across the world.

Yutaka, I think the meaning of decline in the article is about the quantity of languages in the world, that is, the number of languages is declining. It is not related to particular languages like English or Japanese failing to attain a subjective standard.

I know that the two things are different, but I think that they are related.

I suppose it is quite normal that minor languages disappear. When the world was big, and every tribe lived on its own territory and did not communicate closely with its neighbours, the number of languages was tremendous. Now, I don’t see any reason why the number of languages must be more then the number of countries. In Russia there are a lot of already dead languages and a lot of languages that are near to their death. For example, I belong to nationality that is 4th major nationality in Russia. But I don’t speak my native language. And I think it is quite normal. Russian is an official language in Russia, and I speak it well.

More and more people are learning Mexican here in the States though…

I tend to agree with Rasana. It is inevitable that some languages will die out if the speakers of those languages are not motivated to maintain it. It is also inevitable that languages will evolve in ways that we do not always like.

If people are determined to speak a language, they can keep it going or even revive it, like happened with Welsh, Hebrew, Basque, and a few others.

I do not see any of this as a moral issue, i.e. an issue of good or bad, or a noble cause. Although I kind of like minority languages and would like to see some here at LingQ in the future.

“If we are not cautious about the way English is progressing it may eventually kill most other languages.” (Claude Hagege)

The above is from “The death of language?”(BBC - Today - The death of language?). I think that the point is the relationship between the English language and the other languages.

I think English will hardly “kill” other languages soon. However, I see it as being already close to the killing of other possible competitors for the Lingua Franca. The global communication era and the Internet, rather than English as such, seems to be the killer.

It is like the effect of the critical mass in many processes in physics. As soon as you reach a critical mass, you inevitably grow faster than all other competitors, and eventually absorb them, no matter what .

Of course it is nothing but a metaphor, the speculation of the same level as that Chinese is another real competitor for the Lingua Franca.

Who knows the future?

I think that with the decline of the relative prestige of English and the English speaking world, there will be more interest in learning other languages, for a variety of reasons.

I humbly, or not so humbly, think that language learning will become much easier because of the Internet and sites like LingQ. The tyranny of the classroom will be overthrown and learners will be liberated through new learning communities, like this one.

Note that Welsh is reviving right under the nose of English, and that regional languages like Catalan, Basque, and Gallego are reviving, right under the nose of another popular international language, Spanish.

It is all up to the speakers of those languages.

Hi Steve. That’s right. However, none of your example languages competes for the Lingua Franca.

And the revival of local languages lays in the background of a more massive process of English becoming the second language of the new hundreds of millions sitting on the Internet. But I agree with you that the learning of other second languages also wins.

The tyranny of the classroom sounds to me also like a metaphor, if not a revolutionary exaggeration. Nobody forces people to this tyranny. Last night we were visited by a couple of new immigrants who enjoy their ESL classes very much. Whether it is effective or not, and how much the Canadian taxpayer pays for their studies, is a story other than the tyranny.

The problem Ilya is that they think that they can only learn in a classroom. But I agree that my use of the term is a little dramatic. Maybe it is the result of listening to too much Echo Moskvi.

You know Steve, the couple I’ve mentioned arrived from Russia three months ago, from the city of Ufa, not far from where Rasana lives. I have had a “political disagreement” with the man when we first met. He blamed the USA for the problems in Russia. In Russia, he did not listen to Echo Moskvi (no access or s-thing).

Yesterday the man told that, now in Toronto, his main source of information about Russia goes from the site of Echo Moskvy. And, he said, “it reveals some truth about Russia”.

Sorry for the digression from the languages’ theme. To compensate, I may add that this family ( the couple and and a teenager) have already “killed” two languages of their parents in them, and the kids of the teen will probably “kill” the Russian in their turn.

People who blame another country for their own problems are often actually at the root of their own country’s problems.

Although, while not Russia, I can think of a few countries that could blame their problems on the US…

I think language revival schemes such as those in Brittany and Wales are sure signs the language is dead. A language is greater than the sum of it’s native speakers. The life of a language depends on the number of people who grow up seeing it as the most prestigious or the most efficient path to power and/or security in the community. As world communities become bigger and fewer in number, languages will die off.

I am not sure we lose by this process. Some people assert certain languages preserve certain worldviews which are forever lost with the language’s death. I disagree. Worldviews form language, not vice-versa. Any single language can deployed in a way to serve an infinite number of worldviews.

I was chatting with some Catalans here in Llerena, and they were quite comfortable with the status of Catalan, and yet still accepted that Castillian Spanish was more powerful and useful for work and “power”. I found in Galicia that Gallego is making a comeback as well, although it is not a language of work, which Catalan is.

Ed, I think that there are different ways that languages survive. I would not deliver the death sentence on Welsh, Basque, and other regional languages yet.

I think that some of our native Canadian languages can also survive. it will be depend on the natural speakers of those languages, on their will.

I think this has more to do with pride and identity than with worldviews.