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3 Reasons Why Languages Die

Content 3 reasons why languages die

Language is the basic form of human communication and has been used in various forms by ancient civilizations. To this day, it remains a valuable cultural treasure and a symbol of communities. However, thousands of languages are at the verge of extinction, and many have already lost their last speakers.

Languages are dying and the number of active speakers of traditional languages is decreasing every day. To a Spanish, English, or Chinese speaker, this may seem like something impossible. But the truth is, approximately one language dies out every two weeks. UNESCO’s list of dead languages and those on the verge of extinction is close to 3000. By the end of the 21st century, half of the 7.000 languages spoken today will be extinct.

But, why do languages die and why are there so many endangered languages? Let’s take a look at the different causes of language extinction.

Disasters

When a language is spoken in a smaller, limited community, it’s in great danger of rapid extinction.

Throughout history, there were two major forms of a disaster which led to the extinction of a language:

  • wars

When a superior force conquers a territory, the people living there are forced to change. They need to adopt the language of their new rulers. That's why they need to stop using their native language, which causes it to extinct.

  • natural disasters

Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods ad other natural disasters can quickly wipe out an entire village or a small community. This leads to their language being completely lost and extinct.

Disasters can be a serious threat to the vulnerable languages of the world.

Social Status

In today’s era of globalization, many people, especially the young ones, tend to abandon their small communities in search of a better life.

That means that they begin learning a new language so as to:

  • gain a better social status
  • gain economic power
  • find a better job
  • move to another country

In the pursuit of happiness, only the elderly speakers continue nurturing these dying languages. The younger generations might speak the language to their parents, but their children won’t be able to use the language actively.

That leads to extinction.

Modernization

In order for anyone to succeed in the world of business, innovation, and even art and culture, they need to be able to speak English, at least to a certain degree.

In addition, English is the language most commonly used online.

This means that the people who strive high, need to be able to speak English. Most of them switch to English completely, hoping to build a better future.

This means that they give up their native languages and continue communication on the language which opens all the doors.

Additional Thoughts

Languages are not set in stone. They change with the time they live in, and each new generation brings something new.

Think about the ancient English. how hard is it for you to understand the literature of ancient times?

The same goes for languages around the world. Only in their case, they change by adopting the influences of other cultures and languages. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to language extinction.

Conclusion

Languages are gradually being lost due to circumstances the people speaking them are found in. Sometimes they only speak their native languages in their house, with their parent, while using the official languages for everything else. Sometimes they move away and don’t have the need to use it. Sometimes they’re forced to abandon it.

Language preservation is of great importance to the cultural heritage of the world. Inspiring communities to keep speaking their native languages is of utmost importance and should be one of the major priorities of cultural preservation.