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Why Care about Endangered Languages?
December 2, 2014 - By: - In: Language - Comments Off on Why Care about Endangered Languages?

Cultural standardization is as useful as it is destructive. Whether or not you mourn that destruction, however, is a matter of perspective. Let’s see why that is.

English, for example, is going strong as a global language. Even among non-native speakers, the language brings people together and allows them to communicate and share ideas. International teams of scientists collaborate with ease, tourists effortlessly travel through international airports, professionals discuss common concerns with their international counterparts, etc. All good things!

However, when English is so useful, people often decide to learn that language – or another similarly useful language – instead of a language whose importance in this day and age is more local or more closely related to culture, heritage or tradition. People only have so much time in their lives and only so much attention to devote to learning activities. Languages with benefits that are less immediately obvious get pushed by the wayside. And so trends like this, in addition to demographic changes, are seeing a number of languages on every continent become endangered of being lost.

The extinction of endangered languages, like endangered species in the environment, have repercussions for the world. A language, aside from being a way to communicate, is a repository of cultural knowledge and thought. When languages disappear, so too does a way of looking at the world and all the knowledge that has been collected about it.

One interesting resource for learning more about endangered languages (in English) is the Endangered Languages Project. (You can draw your own conclusions about Google having developed the project.) There you can learn about endangered languages around the globe as well as learn how to speak them with different language-learning resources. You can also share books, videos and other materials to help others learn more about endangered languages.

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