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Should we preserve dying languages?

A language becomes endangered when its speakers do not pass the language down to the next generation and its remaining native speakers grow older and pass away. A language is considered dead or extinct when it has no fluent speakers. Languages change, shift, and die throughout human history, yet linguists and speakers of endangered languages go at great lengths to record and maintain such languages for research purposes or cultural heritage. If languages change and die naturally, are they worth preserving? What is the purpose of preserving a dying language?

Yes, we should preserve dying languages

Languages have cultural, scientific, and personal value. Linguists and speakers of endangered languages should work together to record, preserve, and pass down endangered languages.

Languages contain a wealth of knowledge

Languages are more than just a means of communication—they contain a wealth of cultural, historic, and scientific knowledge that can benefit humanity.

Language diversity is valuable

Monolingualism and homogeneity are limiting. We should protect endangered local languages because all cultural identities and languages are valuable and contribute to humanity's linguistic diversity.

Preserving languages preserves cultural identities

Local languages represent their speakers' cultural and ethnic identities. The death of a language means the death of a valuable cultural identity.

No, we should not preserve dying languages

Languages change, shift, and die throughout human history. Preserving a dying language is not worth the effort it takes to record, preserve, and teach endangered languages to younger generations.

People choose not to speak a dying language

Speakers of endangered languages have the choice to continue or stop speaking their language. If a people group chooses to stop their language, then linguists or researchers should not interfere.

Language death is natural

Language change and language extinction are natural to human history. We should not try to preserve less-spoken, minority languages that will die out anyway.

This page was last edited on Thursday, 13 Aug 2020 at 04:22 UTC

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