Miscellaneous Language Extiction The World Is Losing Some Languages

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Monday 30th of June 2008 07:37:32 AM
Language extiction: A recent report states that over 650 languages will most likely go extinct in about 100 years! With this shocking rate of language loss what do people think about the loss of these languages & do you know any lesser spoken languages you'd like to try to bring attention to?

Monday 30th of June 2008 11:07:07 PM
Which languages are u talking about? Can u post the source? I'd like to read more about it

Tuesday 01st of July 2008 02:02:20 AM
I did a presentation on Wintu, a Native American language native to northern California.

As of a few hundred years ago, there were more than 20,000 speakers in 3 tribes.

As of 1900, there were 400 left.

In 1985, during the research, there were about 6 people who were fluent, all of whom knew English as well, and very quite old. No children were learning.

Despite the fact that the language is preserved in several grammars and a very interesting set of recorded folk tales and the accompanying book with transcriptions then word for word and finally fluid translations, that's all that is left.

All of the speakers are presumably dead now, and that is very strange. It seemed like a very interesting language, as well.

Here's more info on that particular language:

There are many more languages like this, or just languages that fade out because no one uses them now for their lives in the big, fast world.

Thursday 03rd of July 2008 10:14:47 AM
Language Extiction: To answer your questions & site my source, check out "The Atlas of World Languages" by Comrie Mathews Polinsky The book also features many facts about languages & is a must for any language learners out there!
Wantu,Manx,Dybril, & even Hebrew are in danger of extinction soon along with several more!

Friday 04th of July 2008 03:44:14 AM
If you ask me I don't care for the most part. I bet most of those languages are Native American languages and there are only a handful of people who care about those languages any more probably because no one uses them including many of the natives, its not practical, and its probably very complicated and hard because of social differences. I think it is important however for people to learn more important but still lesser known languages to promote better communication between the larger and smaller countries among other reasons.

However, languages like Hebrew that are relevant and etc. should be saved.

Friday 04th of July 2008 03:54:38 AM
That's ridiculous and likely offensive to many.

Going with that logic, we might as well just finish wiping out the cultures as well. I mean, as you said, they're not relevant.

Small languages are important for many reasons, some of the biggest being:
1) It gives linguistics more data to understand languages in general. Every language that dies leaves us with less understanding of languages conceptually.
2) They are a crucial way to understand culture. This is proven when you try to translate something and it doesn't fit, because the words are there but the meaning is not.
3) They're really interesting. Every language is different, and it's sad to see them go.

Sure, English is more useful especially because most if not all of these languages are limited in terms of a modern vocabulary (computers, medicine, politics, etc.), but that doesn't mean English is better it just has more words at the moment.

Also, you're oversimplifying this a lot. Native American languages are dying off, but there are many more in all inhabited areas on the planet which are shrinking rapidly.

As for Hebrew*, who is to decide what really is relevant? Sure, for Jews it's very relevant, but what about those people who try to preserve a smaller culture through language and you just said you don't care.

I realize you didn't mean it too harshly, but that was a rather harsh thing to say.

On the other hand, from a completely logical perspective, there's certainly an argument to be made for just abandoning all but one language so everyone can communicate. But
1. I hope that's not English terrible language.
2. I would be very disappointed to see the others go.
3. It wouldn't work even English isn't a single entity. It would split, in time.

And though the argument makes some sense, languages are worth keeping.

(*By the way, it's really odd to say that Hebrew is dying. It WAS dead, and now it's thriving in comparison.)

Friday 04th of July 2008 08:53:02 AM
You're right Djr I didn't mean it in an offensive way I was just stating my opinion. As for some of your reasoning:

1. Learning about languages in general can be done by other means no one will ever know the full extent of linguistics because everyday someone could find a different way to communicate to create new words and means of using the voice. I could create a made up language and we would know more about languages. :p
2. Yes, they do help understand culture but the sad truth is that a couple hundred years from now there won't be much left of those cultures to even use the language to interpret. As for Native Americans, the majority of modern children of these tribes don't even care about their ancestors and care more about their ipods then their native tongue.
3. Interest like relevancy is in the eye of the beholder. I will concede that reason but from my experience with small languages the problem arises that there are no resources for them, they usually contain difficult topics that are impossible without a teacher, and if I did find a language that I really liked then I still probably wouldn't fight for its survival because I have more important (to me) causes that I would rather fight for.

And believe me the last thing I want is one world language I have always hated this concept (not to mention it will never work). Also English of all languages while useful I would hate for it to be even more widespread than it is today because like you said it is a horrible language.

Finally Hebrew. I agree with you Djr that it seems silly that Hebrew is dying. It seems to me like it would be growing especially with Israel being an entirely Jewish state. Also every Jewish person I know had to learn Hebrew at some point it always seems to be passed down through the generations. But then there's the fact that there are a lot less Jews than there used to be. Judaism used to be a major religion especially in Europe but their numbers have steadily declined thanks to their persecution in Ancient Rome, the Dark Ages, and later in the Holocaust.

Friday 04th of July 2008 02:30:06 PM
1. That's NOT the scientific method. You can't just make stuff up and analyze it. That's also called theoretical linguistics and does exist, but the mystery in linguistics is what happens in the human mind, not what can possibly be created as a language. For example, there is a theory of innate grammar, which means that everyone is born with a language and it just gets adjusted to a certain dialect. To understand more about that, we need as much real data as possible. Also, small dying out languages could be crucial links in discovering which languages are tied together thousands of years ago.

2. Personally, I don't care who is listening to an ipod I still think it's important to preserve some of this. And again, this is NOT just Native Americans. It's "Natives" of everywhere Africa, Asia, India, Europe, and the Americas, and especially Australia and New Guinea (did you know that about 1/6 of the world's languages are in New Guinea?)
Once it's dead, it's lost forever. And it doesn't make any difference if the current generation cares because if it dies, we lose all the generations.

3. You're saying their hard to learn, and that's true but then you are also saying you don't care but you'd care if they're easy?

But, then, which languages should stay? And in 100 years, will you feel the same way when English IS going to take over the world?

Sorry, and this is certainly nothing to make light of the Jewish struggles, but that is, overall, ridiculous still. Two entire continents of people were all but wiped out by the Europeans. Many, many languages and cultures have been lost, and many more will be soon. And, really, despite the hardships, the Jews are very successful, and Hebrew is a big language in the world. However, the fact that even Hebrew is having some trouble should be worrying.

Friday 04th of July 2008 11:24:47 PM
1. All languages were made up at some point! People came up with words a very long time ago and gradually like the people the words and cultures changed. At one time or another someone decided to call the big yellow thing in the sky, sol in Latium and it stuck. Stuff like that happens all the time. Yes there are similarities between all languages and I thoroughly believe that it is possible for all languages to have spurred from one original language as history and science have shown all humans began in Africa languages are the same way. One small language may be able to link two languages but in most major languages the similarities are obvious!

2. The ipod was just an example. I realize its not just Native Americans. I was just using those cultures as an example. If 1/6 of all the languages on Earth are on one island then they must be pretty dang similar. And finally the current generation does matter because they have the most power to save their civilization! They have access to natives that can teach them and they have more cultural power. More people will listen to these people if they unite and say we will not let our society die.

3. You misunderstood me I was trying to make two points. First that those languages are difficult and second that I don't have the time or the patience to try and convince people to save a language that they've never even heard of. I never said I'd fight for the language if it was easy I said that if I found one I liked then I'd most likely be out of luck.

4. Cultures as well as languages never last forever! Even if they last a long time they will change. When a culture dies people try to piece together things so they have a general knowledge. Even if we saved an entire civilization that speaks one of these languages it will just be information in a book until one or two people over the years decides that they really want to learn one of those languages in New Guinea. Countless civilizations have been lost already and the rest of the world goes on. Most of those civilizations don't have much historically to offer anyway. We are becoming more and more a global society and sadly there is no room for small languages and civilizations anymore. So far your best reasons for saving these languages have been for linguistical reasons and interest. The first I don't find credible enough and only a select few have interest so unfortunately I don't see these languages being saved anytime soon.

I was merely stating my opinion at first and I was swept up into this long argument. There are always going to be two sides Djr and both sides will most of the time never falter. I remain with my convictions and feel a little insulted that you implied I was being rude to those cultures and offensive. I try to live my life in a tolerant fashion but I also am practical.

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Saturday 05th of July 2008 03:03:12 AM
1. There is a major difference all real languages were not made up intentionally or knowingly. They were simply a tool, not a goal. Esperanto is a language that actually was made up, and it does have some value in terms of how languages work, but that's because it actually caught on. You, by yourself, making up a random language means nothing. If you did create it and it caught on, then that might mean something.
As for Sol, that word comes from, originally, Proto-Indo-European, and I say originally only because that's as far back as we can currently look.
And, no, the similarities between languages may not be obvious, and many languages, like Japanese, are unclear as how they relate to others. The small language of Ainu, on the Japanese islands is related, perhaps, but very different. It's almost died out. Perhaps it is the key that links Japanese to Korean (a likely relationship), or something else, which would be quite important Japanese isn't irrelevant, right?
(By the way, this information is based on a class I just took from a professor who is friends with the editor of the book mentioned earlier in the discussion.)

2. No, they're not that similar. They're more different than Italian and Spanish in many cases, and in some cases more different than English and Arabic. If the current generation fails, then that's just ok? Let's let the culture go away? I am not a huge fan of working to save cultures, per se, but I do think that they are worth preserving and I know that a lot of people enjoy this type of work. After doing a presentation on Wintu, it is absolutely amazing I found an audio file, had the book with transcription and translation, and had a grammar the language is recorded, and was recorded right as it was dying, and now we have a record. And that is all that remains.

3. Yes, so, it's hard, let's give up. That's what you're saying. Applying the same idea to technology, I mean, what's the point in trying to make a computer?
Linguistics is scientific and sometimes difficult, abstract and completely useless in a practical sense. But, hey, I like it.

4. Sure, they don't last. And that is, basically, the problem being discussed. It is, I think, one of the purest forms of knowledge being able to understand something from a culture completely different than your own, in that language. I have no delusions that I will actually learn any significant number of dying languages, but I still think it's a problem.

I try to live my life in a tolerant fashion but I also am practical.
But... you say:
We are becoming more and more a global society and sadly there is no room for small languages and civilizations anymore.

Have you by chance read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? It opens with Earth being destroyed in order to make room for a bypass on a space superhighway. Insignificant. Bye bye.

It's these very attitudes and cultural biases that show you're not taking into account the smaller cultures. Swept up in this huge capitalist thing (or, hey, socialist even), you're seeing society as a large machine, complex and dangerous. That's not the only way. I'm not advocating we return to tribal life or anything like that, but I also think it's very harsh to simply assert that "oops, time for tribes to go away... they're stopping us from being in control".

Whether or not you're trying to be rude, and I don't think you are, the way you're phrasing this really doesn't imply that you care and rather that you'd be more than happy to see these languages and cultures die out.

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