Four Things That Happen When a Language Dies

Four Things That Happen When a Language Dies

  1. We lose “The expression of a unique vision of what it means to be human”
  2. We lose memory of the planet’s many histories and cultures.
  3. We lose some of the best local resources for combatting environmental threats.
  4. Some people lose their mother tongue.

mtff-image1-jpg__800x600_q85_crop“What’s happening with today’s language loss is actually quite different from anything that happened before. Languages in the past disappeared and were born anew, she writes, but ‘they did so in a state of what linguists call ‘linguistic equilibrium.” In the last 500 years, however, the equilibrium that characterized much of human history is now gone. And the world’s dominant languages—or what are often called ‘metropolitan’ languages—are all now rapidly expanding at the expense of ‘peripheral’ indigenous languages. Those peripheral languages are not being replaced.”

SOURCE: Eschner, Kat. “Four Things That Happen When a Language Dies.” Smithsonian Magazine.

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