Is it really important to preserve languages?

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Is it really important to preserve languages?

#1  Postby Ciwan » Feb 06, 2020 1:00 am

Hello everyone

Would you say it is important to preserve languages? and if so, why?

Let's take Welsh for example, why is it important to preserve the Welsh language? or Irish for that matter.

And a follow up question: Is it right to identify people by their language?

For example, most Irish people I've met don't speak Irish, they speak English (with an Irish accent). Is it right to say: "oh those folks aren't really Irish"

I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Thanks
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Re: Is it really important to preserve languages?

#2  Postby Spearthrower » Feb 06, 2020 1:32 am

I think it's important in terms of a historical record to keep both written and spoken usage of a language because, once gone, it's never going to come back in this universe. Language is so tied up with everything about being human down to the structure of our thoughts, and just as we can read a book from a thousand years ago and be transported back in time to see the world of the time from the author's eyes, so we can potentially see the world from an almost alien perspective through the 'eyes' of another language. That memorialized language is in some ways like a record of that peoples' existence, which at least to other humans may be reasonably important.

I think the modern notion of nation & language being conjoined is a bit hokey; that 'imagined community', but culture and language is a different story.
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Re: Is it really important to preserve languages?

#3  Postby I'm With Stupid » Feb 06, 2020 2:52 am

I think there are particular languages like Welsh where there's a history of oppression, and in this case, it's important to put resources into reversing the damage that was done. I think as far as is practically possible, people should be able to be educated in their first language, for example. AFAIK, this is generally linked to higher attainment.

David Mitchell did a good video on this.



The problem, of course, is that language is probably the main indicator of in-group/out-group thinking, so it's not a surprise that countries with disparate language communities will try to enforce a main language on the group in order to basically keep the country together. I think often if left alone, a language will thrive or die on its own merits, and that's fine. But more often than not, we're talking about languages deliberately being exterminated. Look at China at the moment, for example, where the aim is clearly that eventually everyone will speak the same language. And of course European countries went through the same thing a few hundred years (?) ago.
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Re: Is it really important to preserve languages?

#4  Postby tuco » Feb 06, 2020 9:16 am

To me? Not really.
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