Disappearing languages, vanishing voices
The increasing prevalence of English as a language globally has led to the extinction of regional and native languages. Any loss of language is not only a loss of linguistic diversity but also a loss in terms of the associated cultural variations, opinions, views, and knowledge.
Importance of Language Diversity
- Unifying Force of English: English has historically connected diverse linguistic communities in India since British rule, but poses challenges in remote areas.
- The Quest for a Universal Language: Consideration arises on why a common global language is not adopted for simpler and stronger global communication.
- Biblical Tale of Tower of Babel: The narrative illustrates the power of a shared language. Language serves as a vital tool for transferring information and emotions.
Threat to Linguistic Diversity
- Projected Language Extinction: A mathematical model predicts that 40% of languages (with less than 35,000 speakers) may vanish within a century, shrinking diversity.
- Dominance of Major Languages: Half of the world's population primarily speaks just 10 languages. This trend endangers linguistic diversity worldwide.
- Impact of Migration: Migration prompts shifts towards dominant languages, eroding mother tongues over generations. Hindi vs. English dynamics in India reflect this phenomenon.
Preserving Endangered Languages
- UNESCO's Alarming Report: UNESCO identifies 42 endangered languages in India, predominantly spoken by tribal groups with less than 10,000 speakers.
- Language Diversity as Cultural Richness: Analogous to biodiversity, linguistic diversity is vital for preserving unique cultures, knowledge, and identities.
- Urgent Global Strategies Needed: Initiatives must be pursued to document, protect, and revitalize endangered languages. Other institutions should follow suit to curb language disappearance.