As you may know, the documentation of endangered languages is one of my passions. Since this is not the most common pursuit, I occasionally have to explain to people why anyone should care; thus, when my brain is idle, I sometimes work on arranging my views into clearer explanations.
In a bout of insomnia last night, I decided to scribble out a response to one particular class of claims I’ve heard before, which disputes the value of language preservation. My response is very much tongue-in-cheek, but perhaps it will prove enlightening. (It contains liberal use of the word “asshole,” but rest assured that I use it purely in an academic sense.)
Why Language Preservation Matters, Part 1:
Language Dominance Depends More on Assholery than Superiority
- “Well, the best and most useful language will win. No need to go interfering with the natural order of things.”
- “But it’s not your place to decide which languages should survive.”
- “Look at how many people speak English. That must mean it’s an innately superior language!”
Imagine a small group of people living in a wooded area; we’ll call them Original Group, because we are creative at naming things. Read More