(11th June 2011 India)
In several years many languages die out. Some say it is not important because if we speak fewer languages life would be easier. Do you agree or disagree?
The United Nations estimates that approximately 6,500 languages are spoken in the world today. By the end of this century, many linguists estimate that over half of those 6,500 languages will be gone. Some opine that it is futile to save these languages because it is more convenient to have fewer languages today. I agree with this view.
The reason why the possibility of a language dying raises so much concern for sociolinguists is that language is directly related to culture. It is said that, “When a language dies, a culture dies”. Secondly, these languages are a significant part of their speaker’s identity. Beyond preserving culture and using language as a part of the speakers’ identity, a very practical reason for wanting to save a dying language is that archaeologists and anthropologists can get a wealth of information about a society from its language. If a language dies out, so does our access to direct knowledge about its customs, folk tales, and vocabulary for describing the world.
However, languages that lose their communicative purposes and are abandoned by speakers should disappear from the public arena. The truth of “when a language dies, a culture dies” does not imply the truth of when a language is saved, a culture is so saved. The change of culture is a normal part of the law of change and we should welcome this change. The only thing that can be achieved by saving a language is for intra-linguistic studies and nothing more.
Furthermore, it is irrefutable that what actually kills languages is the choices of the speakers. The moment the speakers of a language realize that their language does not have a global functionality, they begin to abandon it. In today’s global village, it is far more convenient to have a few languages. There is better communication and also better job prospects worldwide with fewer languages. Even the technology of today is more comfortable to learn with fewer languages. So, such languages that have limited potential at the global stage, and they thus come under threat or even die, it would be better to let them die. There is no need to preserve them.
In conclusion, I believe that, the idea of saving threatened languages sounds good but it is difficult to sustain because the speakers have a right to shift to another language. Once this happens, there is no logical basis for saving a past linguistic behavior. What is more, globalization will continually lead to language shift. This trend is not likely to abate. Therefore, it is not important to save endangered languages.