What are some language problems

When languages ​​die

Globalization has consequences in many areas. One of them is language. Today there are terms such as “Welcome” that almost everyone understands, even if they don't speak English. On the other hand, nobody speaks more and more languages. There are several reasons for this. It remains to be feared that at some point only a few languages ​​will remain. Linguists, however, do not see this as extreme.

Lively language - great diversity

The linguist and emeritus mathematics professor Ernst Kausen said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk: "Even if a language dies every ten days, we are still far from reducing ourselves to just one or two world languages." Language is simply too much lively. Counting languages ​​is one of Ernst Kausen's passions. Worldwide, people speak more than 6,500 languages, according to Babbel Magazine in a recent article. Half of it will have disappeared in two or three generations. But then the variety is still very large.

Globalization isn't the only problem

Globalization isn't the only reason languages ​​are dying out. There are languages ​​that very few people speak, so that for that very reason they have little chance of survival. Before the English conquered the Australian continent, there were about 300 languages ​​there. This number has been reduced to around 130 languages ​​to date. If only a few speak one of these languages ​​and do not pass it on to their children, the language will be dead a generation later. This also applies to major languages. Latin is such a big language that is in fact extinct. However, other languages ​​have emerged from this, such as the Romance languages.

A culture dies with language

The diverse languages ​​in this world are an expression of the diverse cultures. If a language perishes, an entire culture perishes with it. When the spread of the language becomes less and less and it practically dies before our eyes, it is a sad process. For the Society for Endangered Languages ​​it is clear that the loss of knowledge and different ways of thinking goes hand in hand with it. Society is committed to making endangered languages ​​accessible to the public. For this purpose, it organizes, for example, exhibitions and events and draws attention to itself through selected expert panels. For example, those interested can take part in an expert tour on the question “Endangered linguistic diversity - What is being lost? participate or visit the exhibition “What foreign languages ​​do differently” in the Museum for Communication in Berlin. It is all the more important that everyone deals with language, which is now easier than ever with magazines and the Internet.

The three world languages

Around 50 percent of the world's population speaks one of the world's major languages. These are primarily English, Chinese and Spanish. The other half speaks one of the many small languages. Indigenous languages ​​are mostly affected by the disappearance, as in the case of the Fulni-o. This ethnic group in northeastern Brazil has kept its original language, the “la-tê” active and lively for a long time. They also practice the associated ritual, the "Oricuri", within their community and hidden from the public. However, the young Fulni-o increasingly prefer to speak Portuguese. This means that their language is slowly being threatened with extinction.

Small languages ​​with special features

The small languages ​​usually differ from the large languages ​​not only in terms of vocabulary and pronunciation. They also include unfamiliar grammatical categories. In the Bora language, for example, the verb form is directly related to the evidence of the content. This means that the verb form shows how the speaker assesses the truth content.

Relative monolingualism is the exception

In Germany there is a relative monolingualism. Historically, this is a major exception. In most societies there were and still are several languages. If a language is lost, social problems often arise as a result. The culturally dominant languages ​​are no longer only spoken by the elites, but are penetrating all levels of society.

What is lost socially

When the language is lost, many people lose part of their traditional identity. The consequences are social problems such as alcohol addiction, drug use and high unemployment. In addition to knowledge, important opportunities to define or find one's identity are also lost.

What can help save

Scientists are now documenting these languages ​​in order to save threatened languages. Dictionaries and grammar books are created from which teaching materials for schools can be created. It could be helpful if, for example, bilingual classes take place in the affected communities. However, bilingual teaching does not make the language livelier. This also includes looking after the cultural assets.

Example of a successful program

In northern Canada, in the villages of the Dene Indians, teachers only taught the children in their mother tongue for the first two years. It was not until the 3rd grade that teachers slowly began to teach English. This has meant that the children have been able to significantly improve their performance in school. With the help of mother tongue lessons, the children were able to understand the school concept much better.

February 24, 2018

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