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June 20, 2013

Saving The Rare And Fragile Languages

As much as I love the English language, and the idea of an essentially global, nearly universal language certainly has its appeal - and its utilitarian advantages - the seemingly unstoppable force of a globally shared language also largely means...

... that little, rarely used, and sometimes historically crucial languages become pushed to the linguistic sidelines and die a premature, and perhaps unnecessary death.

Languages, as we all know, exist, survive and grow based on how they are used. It's obvious enough that languages literally die from lack of use, while other languages are the languages of trade or conquest and are useful or necessary.

But did you ever consider how the delivery format makes - or limits - a language's structure and even survival?

Some languages, for example, are relatively easy to learn to speak but difficult to read and write, while others find the written (and printed) form more conducive to their development.

But what about the digital world?

Is the rise, and near universal use of the internet the death knell - or the salvation - of rare and obscure languages?

Right now, the vast majority of internet usage (and tweets, social media websites and more) are in English - but that may not always be true.

Rarely used and endangered languages just might find new hope in the emerging technologies.

If you use, or are interested in the survival of any rare languages, take a look at this article - http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/06/a-lifeline-for-endangered-languages.html. It just might inspire you to help save a precious language and the culture that created it.

Language, perhaps like everything else, becomes settled and familiar, but sometimes, we discover that our language is not as firmly established as we thought it was.

Be sure to send us any language usages or historical nuances that interest you, and be sure to let us know what it is about language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

Morf

Also: for the first time in several years, Morf is available this July and August (and possibly the first half of September) to visit your school or program. You can contact him at mmorf@mail.com. As you can probably guess, Morf can talk or teach about just about anything related to language learning, linguistics and cultural changes.

Posted by mmorf at June 20, 2013 10:46 PM

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