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Language Death - Essay Example

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It is estimated that as many as half of the estimated 6,000 languages spoken in the world today, are spoken only by adults, who are no longer teaching it to their next generation. This is an eminent threat of extinction to many world languages in the present time…
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Language Death

Download file to see previous pages... The endangered languages badly need to be protected from being eroded and should be treated as a living heritage.
In the globalized world of today, the endangerment of languages has presented them as anthropomorphic organisms, with lives independent of their speakers. Throughout the world; the emergence of regional and international economic networks have, blurred the national boundaries. The highly industrialized countries have exercised their economic monopoly and have thus, led certain world languages to compete as imperial or hegemonic while jeopardizing many others. Languages are capable of negotiating their coexistence on their own terms and it seems quite surprising at times that languages; which are reliably passed down through generations; still become extinct. Languages are parasitic species whose vitality depends on the communicative behaviors of their speakers, who in turn respond adaptively to changes in their socio-economic ecologies (Mufwene, 2002). These adaptations have resulted in language shifts, endangerment and destruction and it's not at all surprising when we come across or read about killer languages.
The death of a language occurs when it's speakers decrease in number and gradually diminish, an is taken over by a killer or a leading language. A language killer is a dominant language which is learned at the cost of the mother tongue rather than in addition to it. Though the essential characteristic of a killer language in not to eradicate a language, but most major languages can be identified as killers and this process is sometimes called linguistic cannibalism, glottophagy or language cannibalism (Tove, 2000). English today is considered to be the primary killer language of the world as compared to other popular languages like Chinese, Russian and French, etc. and sign; or other less powerful smaller cultural languages. When the speakers of a language shift to another language, their native language is neglected and the new language takes over. When a language dies, it does not just disappear naturally, but the speakers leave them voluntarily either for their own good reasons or for instrumental purposes.
Globalization and Language Extinction
The death of languages has usually been summoned by power as an important factor, which favored the language of the powerful over the less powerful nations and populations. During the past four centuries, this has been made more obvious by the European Colonization of the world, at least until the independence of the Asian countries and Africa, in the mid twentieth century. The economic relations of countries less industrialized, with their former colonial rulers, have been subject to the terms and language of their former rulers for economic exchange. The European languages have not only endangered the other languages but have been depicted as killer languages, about to replace all other languages (Crystal, 2000).

In addition to this, a language is also endangered because it plays a vital role in the cost and benefit consideration; where the speakers need a particular language for socio-economic ecology. The survival of a language in the globalized economy can result in the giving up of a language for survival. A language can thus be doomed and eventually become extinct for the socio-economic benefits. For example, many African languages have recently lost not to political ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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