Causes of Language Death and Endangered Languages Essay

1950 Words 8 Pages
This essay will discuss the causes of language death and if endangered languages are worth saving. This essay agrees that endangered languages are worth saving and that many factors contribute to language death. Firstly the essay will explain what language death is and the meaning of what is an endangered language. Secondly discuss language death and language birth. Thirdly discuss the causes of language death. Lastly, critically discuss if endangered languages are worth saving. The purpose of this essay is to show that language death is much higher than language birth.

What is language death? Campbell (1994:1961) as cited in Janse, M and Tol, S (2003) describes language death as the loss of a language due to gradual shift in the
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Likewise the same can be said for language death, it is a protracted change of a state (Mufwene, SS: 2004, 204). It is used to describe the loss of competence in a language at community level (Mufwene, SS: 2004, 204). For example: Hagege, C (2014) says: "What we lose is essentially an enormous cultural heritage, the way of expressing the relationship with nature, with the world, between themselves in the framework of their families, their kin people," as cited in BBC(Calls, T:2014). For a linguist like Claude Hagege, who believes that languages are not simply a collection of words. Prof Joshua Fishman (1991) believes that the destruction of a language is the destruction of a rooted identity. As cultures evolve, groups often naturally shift their language use (Calls, T:2014). They are living, breathing organisms holding the connections and associations that define a culture. Language death does not affect all speakers at the same time.

Language death is not new and not a recent phenomenon. An estimated of 7,000 languages are being spoken around the world, but that number is expected to shrink rapidly in the future (Calls, T:2014). A US linguist stunned the academic world by predicting that by the year 2100, 90% of the world's languages would have ceased to exist. (Calls, T: 2014). When a language becomes extinct, the culture in which it lived is lost too and somewhat becomes extinct as well (Calls, T:2014). When cultures evolve, people find that the

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