What Happens When A Language Dies or Exist In Only One Language





What Happens When A Language Dies or Exist In Only One Language

According to McWhoter, the death of a language is considered similar to the loss of an endangered species as depicted by most writers. The example of the Lenape language’s death is used, which is linked to the dying species of animals in the world. Its loss is portrayed in the story of the white buffalo, which was born in a small zoo, in Pennsylvania and given a name in Lenape, a language, which at one point was spoken all over the Tristate area. It was switched to English. The rate at which native languages are dying is alarming, leading to an estimated loss of 6,000 languages in ten decades to come (Langley 1). Owing to the fact that most Americans find it difficult to speak their native languages, the learning process becomes more complicated in an attempt to revive and salvage the remaining languages. The development of one language, as illustrated by the author, would ease the process of communication. Death of a language translates to the loss of a culture, which is the essential component that differentiates various communities thus making them unique in a world of cultural diversity.

As seen in the recent research studies conducted, India is at a risk of losing its languages. The same case is prevalent in other continents, in the world. The first part to consider as an impact of such a loss and the devastating cultural effects. Every language is unique to a particular group. It holds the key to their beliefs, their practices, religion as well as their history (Langley 1). The loss of language means that of culture, as well. The community loses every single aspect of its daily routine as well as their moral and ethical beliefs. It loses its medium of expression thus, the aim of communication is lost.

Wisdom is lost when a language dies. The reduced usage of tribal lingo and the unification of languages to a common one have led to the death of many cultures (Wallace 1). Through this death, the knowledge found within these particular tribes has been lost. The result is the human race limiting its growth by killing its cultural diversity. Every civilization possesses richness in terms of wisdom in different disciplines, and this is encoded in the language spoken. Its demise is equal to the loss of resourceful information.

Cultural identity is an essential element lost through language death. Identity allows people to express themselves freely in accordance to their beliefs as dictated by their culture (Wallace 1). How a Chinese person expresses him/herself is quite contrary to how a German would. This is because people identify themselves and behave in ways that are in accordance to their cultural beliefs. This becomes their identity as it controls their principles, moral and spiritual values. When their language dies, these values slowly fade out leaving a population with no guidance.

Stigma is a probable result of language death. The loss of languages in order for the unification of a society has led to stigma of the minor languages. The people who speak these minor languages have been belittled (Wallace 1). This is evident by the attitude foreigners receive when visiting or relocating to different parts of the globe. For instance, American English is quite different for the British version due to the development of slang (Langley 1). British English is considered more refined and native having retained its quality over the years. Most Europeans are often stigmatized, though indirectly, due the accent and difference in articulation, compared to the Americans.


Works Cited:

Langley, Lauren. “Language, Ideology, Loss, and Culture.” Uncommon Thought Journal.  8 Feb 8. 2011. Print.

Wallace, Lane. “What’s Lost When a Language Dies.” The Atlantic.  10 Nov 2009. Print.

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