The Place of Endangered Languages in a Global Society

The Role of Language in a Present SocietyCertainly, the role of language in the global scale is incredibly important. “Educators agree that the study of foreign languages plays an important role in a school’s curriculum” (LaVaute). Moreover, a person of 21st century should be aware about different cultures, conduct business with partners from different corners of the earth, make friends or even be in love with a person from abroad, be well-travelled constantly. Furthermore, new language studying process develops memory abilities, creativity and listening skills. Language engineering increasing role in our present society is a topic of a separate paper and is very closely connected with a language itself. It is said that there are 5000 – 6000 languages spoken in the world today (some experts count 7000 languages). The question is about Endangered Languages. Some linguists believe that only several hundred will be alive till the end of a century. The problem is with languages that do not have many speakers in different countries. They are very much pressed, i.e. culturally, economically, etc. Globalisation adds a lot, because the language of more powerful nation starts its domination over the weaker one. Mondialisation is one more factor of influence. Sometimes globalization and mondialisation are referred as synonyms but they present different socio-economic aspects of a current world, each of which influence differently the endangered languages. Mondialisation means universalisation, for example McDonald’s, Hollywood movies, music that was disseminated all over the world and are used massively. As a result, the language of minority becomes not so popularly and disappears with time. Such process threatens scientific problems. The challenge is that “With the disappearance of unwritten and undocumented languages, humanity would lose not only a cultural wealth but also important ancestral knowledge embedded, in particular, in indigenous languages” (http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/endangered-languages/). Ethical problem arises as well in this case, because it looks like practically each community would prefer to save their language, if they have positive circumstances and opportunities to make it. The issue is that it is a kind of social unfairness, when one nation has many chances to develop and communicate their native language and another does not have. What is an Endangered Language? The Importance of Languages Generally speaking, an endangered language is a language which speakers are dying or just do not use it, exercising another language; or use it less, in fewer areas; when speakers do not use all language’s styles; when they do not pass it to the next generation. There are several factors that indicate an endangered language (according to UNESCO experts’ researches): Intergenerational language transmission, Absolute number of speakers, Proportion of speakers within the total population, Shifts in domains of language use, Response to new domains and media, Availability of materials for language education and literacy, Governmental and institutional language attitudes and policies including official status and use, Community members’ attitudes toward their own language, Amount and quality of documentation” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17081573). “The extinction of whole families of languages is a tragedy …
Posted by: Eulah Durham

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