From Resty Cena (email@example.com) comes this reminder about the pros and cons of preserving our languages: “Just so we’re aware that there is another side to the story.” Cena, in the words of PEAC, is “an independent higher education professional doctorate from the University of Alberta and a linguistics professor at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. He is an accomplished author of numerous books and text books on Filipino Language and Culture. He is a strong advocate and believer on the modernism of the Tagalog Language.”
Cena was referring to an article, “Languages Are Vanishing: So What?” written by Roy F. Baumeister published in Psychology Today, which is in response to an article in The Economist, “When Nobody Understands” written by Peter Austin from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Let’s revisit Peter Austin‘s article (including comments):
The electronic age drives some languages out of existence, but can help save others
THINK of the solitude felt by Marie Smith before she died earlier this year in her native Alaska, at 89. She was the last person who knew the language of the Eyak people as a mother-tongue. Or imagine Ned Mandrell, who died in 1974—he was the last native speaker of Manx, similar to Irish and Scots Gaelic. Both these people had the comfort of being surrounded, some of the time, by enthusiasts who knew something precious was vanishing and tried to record and learn whatever they could of a vanishing tongue. In remote parts of the world, dozens more people are on the point of taking to their graves a system of communication that will never be recorded or reconstructed.
For the complete article, click on When Nobody Understands.
You may also check “When Languages Die“, a video interview of K. David Harrison who wrote the book of the same title.
Here’s Roy F. Baumeister‘s opposing view (including comments thereto):
Most of the world’s seven thousand languages will no longer be spoken by the end of this century. So what? Should we moan, resist, or say “Good riddance!”? This post was stimulated by a story in the news magazine The Economist on the extinction of languages. It notes that 200 African languages have recently died and another 300 are endangered. In Southeast Asia, another 145 are on the verge of disappearing. And so forth.
Any loss can seem threatening, and so the knee-jerk reaction to warnings about languages is an urge to conserve them. The Economist article editorialized liberally, such as by saying the acceleration in the rate of language extinction is “alarming.”
For the complete article, click on Languages are vanishing so what?.