Nowadays many people discuss the issue of overpopulation. Ironically, there is another serious problem that people face. It is the problem of missing languages. Some may assume that if a language disappears it means the language is unnecessary so it should cease to exist. Nevertheless, this assumption is erroneous. People should cherish their heritage since every language bares certain amount of valuable information, certain amount of knowledge which is the part of overall knowledge gained by people throughout centuries and even millennia. Thus, it is important to trace endangered languages and try to preserve them. For this purpose people should collect data about the nature of endangered languages and factors which cause their disappearance.
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In fact, there are many endangered languages. For instance, in the USA one of such languages is Hopi which encounters only 5,000 native speakers. Though, some words of the language appear in the English language, Hopi ceases to exist. Another example of disappearing languages is Aleut language (Russia). Only five native speakers of this language are registered. Admittedly, these two languages deserve special attention since they are too close to complete disappearance. As has been stated above it is important to try to preserve these languages as they should be regarded as a part of overall human knowledge heritage.
De La Fuente provides a detailed analysis of the relationship between the word “boat” in Turkish language and Eskimo-Aleut languages (7). This research sheds light on etymology of some words in Aleut language and highlights some details from the historical and cultural heritage of Aleuts. This information can help understand whether Aleut language can be revitalized or there is a tendency to decline. Moreover, the data presented in the research can be regarded as a potent supportive argument that each language bears certain value and is important in terms of enriching human heritage.
Walsh provides a thorough analysis of Indigenous languages. It goes without saying that the research mentions the languages under consideration, Hopi and Aleut. However, the main concern of the work is observation of factors which can contribute to revitalization of languages. The research also highlights certain measures undertaken by people to preserve languages, but it does not explain “why some attempts at language revitalization succeed, whereas others fail” (Walsh 293). The research also provides the analysis of “Indigenous languages which might survive” (Walsh 303).
Anderson & Anderson provide a concise research of the factors which make languages disappear and highlight possible measures which can help preserve the languages. The research is focused on Pangasinan which is the eighth largest language in Philippines. Anderson & Anderson stress the importance of “language continuation into the future” (116). The research also provides successful measures undertaken in Phillipines which can be exploited while saving other languages from disappearance. What is more, the research suggests “a scenario in which globalization may yield unexpected opportunities for language revitalization” (Anderson & Anderson 116). Thus, it can be a valuable source for the research which focuses on Hopi and Aleut which are vanishing.
Thomason provides an analysis of such phenomenon as “speakers’ conscious manipulation” which leads to language change (19). Admittedly, the languages change and develop. However, it was accepted that the change is something that speakers do not impact on. Thomason proves that this assumption is not that undoubted. The research provides examples of language changes in various languages. This research sheds light on one of the factors which influence language changes, which in its turn often cause language disappearance. This knowledge can help people become conscious not only when changing the language but while preserving it as well.
Luisa Maffi dwells upon the process of language vanishing and points out the necessity to monitor the state of “linguistic diversity” (390). Maffi highlights the major factors which lead to languages disappearance. She states that development is a good tendency, but it often leads to the death of languages which is unacceptable. Maffi also points out that recently people started paying the appropriate attention to the problem. Apart from this she depicts certain actions undertaken to preserve languages. Such information is very valuable for the research concerning endangered languages like Hopi and Aleut since it can help to understand what measures should be undertaken to revitalize the languages.
Heath and McPherson observe cultural differences of different people on the basis of Dogon languages and the English language. It is reported that these languages “have distinct cognitive orientations toward observable actions” (Heath and McPherson 38). This work is a valuable source for the present research since it points out that each language contains a lot of valuable information which enriches people’s knowledge about the world. The differences in perception of the world around speakers of different languages can enable contemporaries to reveal new facets of some objects and phenomena. The work provides semantic and anthropological analysis which can become good supportive information for preserving endangered languages.
Anderson, Victoria B. And Anderson, James N. “Pangasinan – An Endangered Language? Retrospect and Prospect.” Philippine Studies 55.1 (2007): 116-144.
De La Fuente, Jose Andres Alonso. “Urban Legends: Turkish Kayık ‘Boat’ and “Eskimo” Qayaq ‘Kayak.” Studia Linguistics 127.2010 (2010): 7-24.
Heath, Jeffrey and McPherson, Laura. “Cognitive Set and Lexicalization Strategy in Dogon Action Verbs.” Anthropological Linguistics 51.1 (2009): 38-63.
Maffi, L. “Endangered Languages, Endangered Knowledge.” International Social Science Journal, Special Issue “Indigenous Knowledge” 173 (2002): 385-393.
Thomason, Sarah G. “Speakers’ Choices in Language Change.” Studies in the Linguistic Sciences 29.2 (1999): 19-43.
Walsh, Michael. “Will Indigenous Languages Survive?” Annual Review of Anthropology 34 (2005): 293-315.