Free Essay

Language Extinction

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ElCuento
Words 1288
Pages 6
In recognising the value of individual languages we acknowledge the dignity and worth of our fellow human beings. – Desmond Tutu (Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights Follow-up Committee. April, 1998)

It all began with the steam engine. The industrial revolution, which kicked off in late 18th Century set off a series of rapid improvements in technology, which provided us with mass transit and mass communications. Many places that were once exotic realms barely set upon, became multi million dollar wellness centres for exhausted western tourists, complete with western television, McDonalds outlets and internet cafes. Professor Austin’s quote rightly alludes to the fact that the developments of modern technology over the past century have been a major factor in permanently concentrating the world closer together, a place where cultures bleed into one another. And it is having a dramatic effect on the number of languages.

If means are not devised to stop it, half of the worlds 7000 odd languages that are spoken today will disappear within the next couple of generations. (SBS, 2013). This will also correspond to the loss of half of the world’s cultural wealth and ancestral knowledge. I will discuss the reasons why language diversity is important, and the challenges that are presented to it by contemporary society.

Language is the most important tool we as humans have at our disposal. It is the means by which we learn, and the means by which we teach. It provides us with the only vehicle to express our feelings, articulate our ideas and collaborate. Human language itself is remarkably unique in the context of the natural world. We are the only creature that both speaks and writes and the only creature with the power of recursive thought, which in layman’s terms allows the ability for us to recall past episodes and imagine ourselves in future ones, as well having the ability to think about thinking. (Corballis 2011, preface xi).

Language is a crucial element of our personal identity, which also includes traits of gender, race, class, and sexuality. Our right to an individual language is on par with any other of the key human rights we take as assumed. As we make great strides against intolerance gender, race or sexuality based discrimination, could we argue that an attack on a language should be treated in the same way as an attack on any other element of personal identity? Identity is also about internal recognition of cultural belonging according to (Nunan, Choi 2010, p.3) and is akin to the most fundamental of family instincts we have within us.

Importantly, language has been shown to strongly influence our worldview and therefore our culture. Modern studies based on the Samir Whorf hypothesis provide evidence that we think or behave differently as a result of the different languages we speak. This has been shown to be the case especially in spatial cognition, our social use of language and even in how we perceive colour! (Phelps, K 2012)

Historically, most instances of endangerment or extinction of language have been by force, such as those seen in the wake of Spanish colonialism from the 16th Century. One current example is that of the Kurdish people in modern Turkey. Successive Governments over the past century have viewed the attempts of the Kurdish people to maintain their language as a threat to Turkish national identity (Wee, 2011, p.8) Laws at various times across this period have included bans on studying, reading or speaking in Kurdish. Other bans have included bans on Kurdish place names, print publishing, radio or television produced in Kurdish, wearing of traditional Kurdish clothes, playing or selling Kurdish music, and people have been subject to forced migration out of existing Kurdish areas. (Skutnabb-Kangas, 1994, pp.347, 353).

In most contemporary examples, loss of diversity is due to economic globalisation. English has become the defacto global language of business and diplomacy, and without fluency entire cultures now get left behind in the world trade economy. In response this very issue, the Vietnamese Government has taken swift action through policy to ensure that by 2020 all school leavers have a basic standard of conversational English education under their belt. This they hope will improve relationships with regional trading partners and drive forward the modernisation of Vietnam's economy. (Parks, 2011). As a result, the outlook is very poor for the identity, worldview and sense of belonging of the speakers of Vietnam’s 43 threatened and endangered languages (Lewis, M.Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D.Fennig, 2013). Will the result be complete loss of the cultural knowledge that is unique amongst these groups ?

On an international scale, Globalisation and the internet has resulted in a gradual but documented homogenisation of languages and culture. The notion of ‘Digital Language Death’ has recently gathered pace with findings in a study that only 5% of world languages are in any form of use online. (Kornai, 2013) When we correspond this with the rapid increase in world internet usage for commerce, things look concerning. Among the first signs of a dying language is that the speakers of it start using languages that are more dominant when in trade and commercial situations (Bloomfield, 1927, p 432-439).

In line with these global threats, the linguistic rights movement has gathered momentum over the past twenty years. The Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights is a key document signed by a host of non-Government organisations in 1996 to support Linguistic rights. It was deemed worthy of support from the likes of Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Noam Chomsky and Desmond Tutu among scores of others. Unfortunately, this has not yet translated to a global treaty designed to protect language diversity. As we have covered, language rights are intimately linked with other human rights, and should absolutely deserve equal billing with other social and cultural rights in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

In final response to the essay question and quote, it is critical in the face of overwhelming technological change that we move to protect endangered languages and maintain language diversity. Without language diversity, we lose diversity of ideas including political, social, historical ideas. In other instances where language is suppressed by a political force as in Turkey, we need to acknowledge a breach of basic human rights and see action in accordance with other similar human rights violations. The internet – though seemingly the enemy of language diversity - should be used as a tool to our advantage, to document languages and associated cultures now, and use the web’s potential as a vast virtual library to promote this bountiful information.


Linguicide: How Dying Languages Kill Multiculturalism,2013, Video recording, Andy Park, 21st March retrieved 7th December

Corbalis, M 2011, The Recursive Mind: The origins of human language, thought and civilisation, Princeton University Press

Parks, E 2011, Vietnam demands English teaching ‘miracle’ retrieved 29th November 2013,

Nunan, D, Choi, J 2010, Language and Culture, Reflective Narratives and the Emergence of Identity, Routledge, New York

Phelps, K 2012 Can language affect the way we think?, University of Colorado, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
Retrieved 1st December 2013,

Wee, L 2011, Language Without Rights, OUP, USA

Skuttnabb-Kangas, T, Bucak, S 1994 Linguistic Human Rights: Overcoming Linguistic Discrimination, Walter de Gruyter & Co, Berlin

Lewis, M.Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D.Fennig (eds.), 2013, Ethnologue:Languages of the World, Seventeenth edition

Kornai, A 2013, Digital Language Death, PLOS, retrieved 7th December 2013

Bloomfield L 1927 Literate and illiterate speech. American speech Volume 2: 432–439

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Guide to Moscow

...stumbled on Jeremy Clarkson’s article, “Stuff the Tigers – Long live extinction” as it celebrates extinction and makes a mockery of the trade in tigers. I am writing this letter to show my disagreement on some of his ideas and points of view; also I am the person who likes those living creatures. I can easily understand that is hard to find a new theme and write an interesting article especially for our generation, but this article reached and passed all of the limits. It is really easy to see that author didn’t treat article as seriously as it needed to be treated; his use of sarcasm belittles and demeans what the majority of people find an important environmental issue. However, I wanted to point out that every single bit of the article is rude. Even the title is creating a negative tension. “Stuff” – this word makes reader think to stop caring about this issue and just fill the tigers with stuffing once dead. “Long live extinction” – these words tease the reader with contradiction, and makes them think that everything is going well and extinction is impossible. I think that the use of this language in the title shows that the author is trying to manipulate the reader by making them agree with him through humour. Mr. Clarkson is not showing the whole picture of the problem of extinction. The reader thinks that everything is going well, and people have time to change it. However the problem of extinction is serious, and people should think about it now, because......

Words: 810 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Psychology Assignment 4

...Psychology Assignment 4 Task 44: Define the principles of Classical conditioning. The study undertaken by Ivan Pavlov is still today the most well known example of classical conditioning. After studying the digestive system of dogs in 1927, Ivan noticed that his dogs would salivate at the sight of the lab assistant bringing them food. Through the process of classical conditioning, soon the sight of the lab assistant alone was enough for the dogs to salivate. Pavlov believed that the dogs had learnt to expect food from the assistant by association; he then investigated his theory further by beginning to experiment with a neutral stimulus, in this case the sound of a bell. Pavlov sounded a bell as food was placed in front of the dogs, it did not take long for the dogs to produce saliva at the mere sound of the bell. The process of Classical Conditioning or Pavlovian conditioning as it is also known as works as follows: Stage 1 – Food in this experiment is the unconditioned stimulus (UCS). The UCS equals salivation which is the unconditioned response (UCR). Salivation is an involuntary automatic response to a certain stimulus. This is a reflex controlled by the lower part of the brain; no learning is required to produce this response. At this stage before learning has taken place, the sound of a bell will cause no response or an irrelevant response from the dogs. Stage 2 – Acquisition is the initial stage of learning, after repeatedly pairing food with the sound......

Words: 4096 - Pages: 17

Premium Essay

Phobias and Addictions

...Phobias and Addiction Rachael Thomas PSY/300 January 26, 2014 Professor Chung Phobias and Addiction Webster Dictionary defines phobia as “a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to compelling desire to avoid it” ("PHOBIA," n.d) Whereas Addiction is defined as “the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or something that is psychologically or physical habit-forming, as narcotics, to such extent its cessation causes severe trauma” ("addiciton," n.d). So can a phobia be classical condition or an addiction be operant conditioned into existence? Some scientists believe that it can, but then the question is what is operant and classical conditioning? Also what is extinction mean and how is it achieved in both conditions? These are the topics I will be answer and I will also be giving examples to each phobia and addiction that can happen through classical and operant conditioning. Classical Conditioning “Classical conditioning is when an environmental stimulus leads to a learned response through pairing of an unconditioned stimulus” (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). For example Ivan Pavlov experiment with dogs. He did a study based on dogs and conditioning them to salivate by hearing a bell or a fork being pinged. Basically he would give dogs food after the bell rang. So after a couple tries he would then noticed that the dogs would salivate even without food present if they heard the bell. Another example of......

Words: 3031 - Pages: 13

Premium Essay


...Student Name: | Rae Loulache | Check | Requirement | | This checklist is the first page of my paper. | | The “Title Page”, which is formatted in accordance with APA Guidelines, is the second page of my paper. | | The page following the Title Page is marked page #2 and subsequent pages are numbered sequentially. All page markings appear in the lower, right hand corner of the each page. | | My entire paper (everything) is double spaced. | | I have not included an “introduction” or “opening paragraph” and have instead launched right into the review of the assigned topic. | | Each claim or fact presented in my paper is supported with a reference citation. | | For each quotation, there is a citation of the page number(s) from the original source. | | On average, there are no more than one quotation every two pages. | | I have not cited or mentioned the first and last names of authors in the body of my text. I have included first initials and last names of authors on the “Reference” page, which is the last page of my paper. | | I have not cited or mentioned the title of an article or book in the body of my paper, but have instead included this information on the “Reference” page. | | I have made sure that when citing a reference at the end of a sentence that I have placed the period after the parentheses which contains the reference (example). | | My paper does not include any personal stories from my own life or experience. | ...

Words: 5151 - Pages: 21

Premium Essay

Operant Learning in Explaining Consumer Behaviour

...1. Critically analyse the role of operant learning in explaining consumer behaviour. Consumer behaviour is the process, in which focuses on the way how individuals or groups make decisions in order to satisfy their needs and desires, included search, purchase, evaluate and disposal of products or services (Solomon, 2011). Moreover, operant learning (or instrumental learning) is presented by Skinner (1953), based on Thorndlike’s law of effect which emphasises that a pleasant outcome tends to encourage the repetitive responses in that similar situation again and vice versa. Whereas the involuntary and simple responses are elicited in classical conditioning, Skinner’s theory is useful to explain complex and conscious consumer behaviours because of consequences happening after the behaviour. Therefore, this paper is going to examine the role of operant learning in the produce of purchasing behaviour in case of contingences reinforcement. The role of positive reinforcement in operant learning can clarify the habitual purchasing consumer behaviour. As acknowledged, operant behaviour is influenced by the outcome of the behaviour itself. It is indicated that satisfaction is formed as hedonic reinforcement as a result of utilitarian consequence of buying and consuming economic goods (DiClemente and Hantula, 2003; Foxall). It means that consumers learn from the previous involvement with the product which creates the satisfaction. Thus, customers tend to perceive the feeling of......

Words: 2381 - Pages: 10

Free Essay


...jeopardy of extinction than others. The rare species, the highly specialized species, the less competitive species, and the species having low aptitude for dispersal and colonization, all these species might be missing from a reserve system if the reserves were numerous but small. 3) Why should the number of extinctions be inversely related to reverse size? Answer: reserve size will determine population size for each species and small populations face special jeopardizes. 4) How should the equilibrium number of species on a large reserve? Answer: It should be greater than the equilibrium number on a small reserve, but it doesn’t distinguish between a large reserve full of common species and a large reserve full of rare species. 5) Why did Diamond think that the theory of Simberloff has some mistakes? Answer: Simberloff’s reasoning from their assumptions is correct but minimizes or ignores much more important conservation problems. Because those indifferent to biological conservation may seize on Simberloff’s report as scientific evidence that large refuges are not needed, it is important to understand the flaws in their reasoning. 6) Why does a large reserve receive more immigration and endure less extinction? Answer: A large reserve presents a bigger target to dispersing individuals, hence a higher immigration rate. A large reserve supports large populations, thereby buffering each species against the dangers of rarity, hence a lower extinction rate. A......

Words: 607 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Phobias and Addiction

...developed through operant conditioning. Operant conditioning, also called instrumental conditioning, is a method for modifying behavior an operant which utilizes contingencies between a discriminative stimulus, an operant response, a reinforce to change the probability of a response occurring again in that situation. This paper also Distinguishes between classical and operant conditioning. One of the major differences involves the types of behaviors that are conditioned. While classical conditioning is centered on involuntary, automatic behaviors, operant conditioning is focused on voluntary behaviors. * While these two conditioning techniques share some similarities, it is important to understand the differences between them. What extinction means and how it is achieved in both classical and operant conditioning. * * Phobias and Addictions Phobias are an irrational and excessive fear of an object or situation. In most cases, the phobia involves a sense of endangerment or a fear of harm. For example, those suffering from agoraphobia fear being trapped in an inescapable place. Addiction has long been understood to mean an uncontrollable habit of using alcohol or other drugs. Because of the physical effects of these substances on the body, and particularly the brain, people have often thought that “real” addictions only happen when people regularly use these substances in large amounts. Also there are other addictions for example people are addicted to sex, food,......

Words: 895 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Environmental Science

...a specific list of species that are endangered. This law requires that these agencies ensure that all species on that list are to never be compromised in any way such as: importing, exporting, hunting, etc. In the 1900s, when it was realized that bison and a bird in North America called the Passenger Pigeon were going missing, it was determined that something had to be done to protect the wildlife. As this issue was looked upon, it was found that millinery and pesticides were a major cause of animal and plant extinction. Millinery is the designing and manufacturing of hats. When people realized that they could profit from making a product with animal skins and furs, millinery became a problem for wildlife. Those who are greedy and unconcerned were not going to stop without a law in place. Therefore, the ESA was put in place, attempting to preserve what animals were left to replenish from specific species. Pesticides became an issue with the extinction of plants when kudzu entered the life of our native plants in 1876. Kudzu is an Asian plant that actively grows at a higher speed than other plants....

Words: 651 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

Apes Project

...| Midterm Review Project | Chapter 4-14 | | | 1/16/2014 | AP ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE CHAPTER 4 EARTH SYSTEMS AND RESOURCES I. The Nature of Ecology a. Ecology is the study of connections in nature i. Ecology is the study of how organisms interact with one another and with their non-living environment ii. An organism is any form of life. The cell is the basic unit of life in organisms. b. Population i. Members of a species interact in groups called populations. ii. Species of the same population live together in a particular place or habitat. c. Communities and Ecosystems i. A community consists of populations of different species living and interacting in an area ii. An ecosystem is a community interacting with its physical environment of matter and energy. II. The Earth’s life support systems a. The different spheres of life-parts of Earth that support life systems. i. The Earth is made up of interconnected spherical layers that contain air, water, soil, minerals, and life. i.i Atmosphere: thin envelope or membrane of air around the planet. Its inner layer is the troposphere; it extends only about 17 km above sea level. i.ii Stratosphere: subsequent layer; its lower portion contains ozone to filter out the sun’s ......

Words: 5886 - Pages: 24

Premium Essay

Outline and Evaluate the Learning Theory of Attachment

...The learning theory argues that attachments are based on the principles of operant and classical conditioning. First attachments are quite often formed to the person who looks after the child, who feeds them, changes their nappies and comforts them. First attachment figures are a powerful source of pleasure for the baby, as well as removing physical and emotional discomforts including pain, cold and hunger. An early version of the learning theory based on both operant and classical conditioning was proposed by Dollard and Miller (1950) According to the learning theory, the baby has to learn to form an attachment with his/her caregiver. In the process of operant conditioning, the caregiver rewards the baby by feeding it, so the baby then associates the caregiver with the reward and repeats any action that brings her close. This happens because food brings a feeling of pleasure to the baby. Food is the primary reinforcer. By removing discomfort, it reinforces the behaviour that led to its arrival. But food doesn't come without the caregiver bringing it, so the caregiver becomes the secondary reinforcer - even without bringing food, the presence or the mother reduces discomfort and brings a feeling of pleasure. The baby will therefore repeat any action, for example, crying which brings the caregiver close. On the other hand, classical conditioning argues that attachment is learnt by association. According to classical conditioning, food is an unconditioned stimulus that......

Words: 546 - Pages: 3

Free Essay


...Endangered species of the US: Western region: Bakersfield Cactus, often Trealese’s Beavertail prickley pear (Ranis pretiosa) The Bakersfield cactus is now listed (1990) as an endangered species due to habitat loss from open range to citrus groves, residential development and petroleum production. Other human effects are off-road activity, trash dumping and gravel mining. Competition from other grasses as well (exotics) is affecting this prickly pear. There is a recovery plan in place (1998) and we can wait and see what will happen with this pain-inducing species. Southeast region: The Ozark Hellbender: The clear fast moving waters of the Ozarks can be lots of fun from fishing to kayaking. The story of the Ozark hellbender’s decline is an all too familiar one just like many of the other endangered species– increased siltation, water quality degradation, and increased human interference to their habitat. To add insult to injury, a highly infectious chytrid fungus is proving fatal to an ever-increasing number of amphibians throughout the world. Over 75 percent of hellbender deaths that occurred in the St. Louis Zoo’s captive population from March 2006 through April 2007 were due to this disease. This prompted the testing of Missouri’s wild Ozark hellbenders, and they found that 100% of the population was infected. Global endangered species: Panamanian Golden frog ((Atelopus zeteki), Considered lucky by the Panamanians, A. zeteki was first listed under......

Words: 433 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Bio Ethics

...Ermina Dz. Ethics Essay Biodiversity is a key factor to Mother Nature and everything that resides in it. The word in itself means the many species within our environment. There are millions of species and each and every one of them has a crucial role in the world. These species are interdependent which means changes in one will cause changes in others. The biggest creator of these changes in the past decades has been human kind. Humans being able to use their intelligence, to overcome things that they naturally would not have been able to, have managed to effect almost every other species in the world. This effect came from such things as cars, industrialization and genetic modification. People should put more concern to biodiversity because of the environment, species interdependence and self preservation. It is a known that fact that humans are the species that has made the biggest impact on the environment. People made great advancements until now in bettering their life and making it easier to live. Even though these are benefits to humans they have came with a great counter-effect and that is mostly portrayed in the destruction of the environment. In order to have building, generate electricity and provide transportation, people have managed to change the face of the earth completely. These advances also lead to people living longer lives and a great expansion of the species. Being that resources and land are scarce products it made humans intervene and take......

Words: 1094 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Unit 1 Possible Essay Question

...and your reasoning must be sound. WARNING: Do NOT get your answers from the internet ‐ these answers are usually WRONG because the responder is not in this class. They are providing answers using different information. 1. Some political figures have dismissed Evolution or Climate Change as "just a theory." Explain why this phrase is inaccurate. Because it is a scientific theory---strongest explanation supported by a large body of scientific research with minimal influence of humans. There is evidence to prove it. 2. Some people argue that extinction is normal and happens with or without humans (which is accurate). So why are scientists so concerned with extinction? [ Be specific. Give at least 2 reasons with empirical evidence.] Extinction is normal but we are currently in the Holocene extinction period and 100-1000 times as man species are going extinct every year than the normal “background” extinction. We are at a period where 10,000-100,000 species go extinct every year. The normal is 10-100 species per year. 3. Damian eats a bowl of cereal (Rice Krispies) and milk for breakfast. Explain how the energy Damian gets from the milk actually come from the sun. A rice plant is in what major group of plants? What part of the plant is rice? Are we "killing" plants by eating Rice Krispies? Milk comes from cows. Cows get their nutrition to have enough energy to make milk by eating—grass. The grass has vital vitamins and...

Words: 1095 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

Medical History

...NATURE|Vol 461|1 October 2009 Vol 461|1 October 2009 RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS JOURNAL CLUB Bruce R. Conklin Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, San Francisco, California A geneticist wonders why we need to sleep. Scientists can have a love–hate relationship with sleep. We know that it is vital for our health, but not the reasons why. We celebrate dreams that provide inspiration, but often dismiss sleep as a chore. Yet deep sleep can provide insight into vexing problems. In 1920, pharmacologist Otto Loewi famously had a recurring dream that suggested how he could demonstrate neurotransmission in the lab. The key experimental details escaped him until he captured the dream in a bedside notebook. Later that day, he performed his Nobel-prizewinning experiments with the aid of a few frog hearts and a water bath. Now, a team led by Ying-Hui Fu reports that a single mutation in a gene called DEC2 can cause people to sleep for only about six hours per night instead of the usual eight (Y. He et al. Science 325, 866–870; 2009). This mutation seems to be exceedingly rare, with only two carriers found so far. Only by introducing this mutation into transgenic mice and fruitflies could the researchers show compelling evidence of the mutation’s effect. These two additional waking hours each day are quite remarkable when you consider that, over 80 years, this would add up to more than 8 years of extra productivity! Why are extreme short sleepers so rare? Surely evolutionary......

Words: 941 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Conservation Biology

...Conservation Biology is defined as the scientific study of the nature and status of Earth’s biodiversity. The main aim is protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystem from overly fast growing extinction rates. Biodiversity is defined as the variety of organisms that occupy a specific region. This includes all organisms from that region, the smallest creature to the largest mammals. The earth is a vast planet, which is growing and changing every day. Many things are out of our control, but there are also many things that are within our control. People play a direct impact on the environment as well as the wild life. Unfortunately a lot of our negative actions have led to the extinction of various species.   Animals can be broken down into three different species, threatened, endangered and extinct. Threatened Species can be defined as a species commonly found in an area, that is at high risk of becoming endangered. "A threatened species may have a declining population or be exceptionally rare. Similar to endangered species, the cause of their decline is based and various factors such as habitat destruction, climate change or the introduction of an invasive species to their natural habitat" (Buchanan,M.). A good example of a Threatened Species is the Loggerhead Turtle. They are found globally, preferring temperate and subtropical waters. Loggerhead turtles and their eggs are hunted extensively in many parts of the world. "However, the main threat is from raccoons......

Words: 742 - Pages: 3