Valuing languages

From the Huffington Post, 04/06/2015.

Hello in Different Languages

“We are moving toward one tongue: 97% of the world speaks only 4% of the world’s languages. Once we realized that plant and animal species were disappearing from the earth, we worked to protect them out of concern that losing even a single species may have dire consequences for the well-being of the whole planet. We need to do the same for languages.

This will require a radical shift in how we think about most of the 6,000 or so languages we still have left. Some are on the verge of extinction, others are slowly losing out to national and global languages, and most fall somewhere in between. If we don’t actively counter the forces of cultural homogenization, the morbidity and mortality rates among languages will continue to climb.

Language diversity brings many benefits: each tongue contains a wealth of knowledge, often reflecting rich spiritual and cultural traditions, critical medicinal and agricultural practices and unique understandings, all providing a lens into how different groups of people view the world. Language is intrinsic to a people’s identity, so to lose a language may mean to lose a people…” Continue reading Alissa Stern’s post on Huffpost Art & Culture.