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The phenomenon of language, its development, and its use cannot be considered outside of the economic and financial specifics of the environment in which it evolves. With the aggravation of a financial or economic situation in which the representatives of a particular language culture find themselves, the chances for language preservation increase exponentially (Barten 252). Therefore, it is essential to make sure that the needs of language minorities are met accordingly, and that the significance of the concept of language rights are recognized on a global level.
Despite the fact that the idea of introducing the concept of language rights into contemporary legislation might seem debatable, it is a crucial step in providing national and ethnic minorities with their irrefutable rights. In his article, Stephen May addresses the importance of recognizing people’s language rights and, therefore, creating opportunities for the further enhancement of “language ecology” (May 319). It could be argued, though, that the creation of language ecology may be viewed as the impediment to further linguistic development. A language does not exist outside of the context of international and intercultural communication; therefore, it needs both to exert influence on other languages and be impacted by them.
Poverty as the Key Factor
Batibo, in turn, assumes that socioeconomic factors, in general, and poverty, in particular, affect minority languages negatively. Particularly, Batibo states that the representatives of ethnic and national minorities face the dilemma of sustaining the development of their culture, in general, and their language, in particular, and the availability of socioeconomic and financial benefits (Batibo 24). However, it could be assumed that the gradual introduction of the dominant language to one of the minorities may lead to the further development of the latter. For this purpose, however, the current legislation regarding the use of languages on a statewide level must be reconsidered (Hein 164).
The introduction of legislation that will support the further active usage of the languages of minorities on a statewide level may prevent the phenomenon of language death from occurring. According to Dunbar, it is the responsibility of local authorities to provide a legal foundation for meeting the language- and culture-related needs of minorities, including “fuller integration and a greater range of economic, social, political, and other opportunities” (Dunbar 184). The outcomes of failing to deliver the necessary changes to the legal system are bound to be dire. Apart from language death, further deterioration of the target population’s culture may be witnessed. People may be forced to reject their culture in order to survive in a hostile environment (Crystal 107). Thus, legal changes must be made.
Facing significant economic and financial challenges in the environment of a foreign country, ethnic and national minorities have to adjust to rather challenging demands of the identified setting. As a result, they may lose their identity due to their inability to speak their language. Therefore, immediate changes must be made in the legislative framework so that the linguistic rights of minorities are recognized.
Barten, Ulrike. Minorities, Minority Rights and Internal Self-Determination. Springer, 2014.
Batibo, Herman M. “Poverty as a Crucial Factor in Language Maintenance and Language Death: Case Studies from Africa.” Language and Poverty, vol. 141, no. 1, 2009, pp. 23-36.
Crystal, David. Language Death. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Dunbar, Robert. “Is There a Duty to Legislate for Linguistic Minorities?” Journal of Law and Society, vol. 33, no. 1, 2006, pp. 181-198.
Hein, Andre Michael. Does Transnational Mobilization Work for Language Minorities? A Comparative Study on Romanians in Serbia, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Hungary. LIT Verlag Münster, 2014.
May, Stephen. “Language rights: Moving the debate forward.” Journal of Sociolinguistics, vol. 9, no. 3, 2005, pp. 319-347.