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When a language…

August 17, 2011

I listened to a TED talk last night that I thought was very interesting regarding language.

When I listened to this talk I distinctly remembered a comment left on a random language blog I was reading about revitalizing indigenous languages. The gist of this particular comment was saying that:

It wasn’t so bad to have less indigenous speakers and have more of the population learn the mainstream language
. The indigenous people gain so much with learning English even though they lose their own language (it might have been Spanish now that I think of it, referring to the indigenous populations in Mexico, Central and South America).

Now… my emotions ran wild with this.

Once a language is gone, an entire culture is lost! Of course it is bad.

What I couldn’t do was formulate an argument that would convince this particular commenter otherwise. At the time I wasn’t thinking of what the mainstream loses? They lose seemingly nothing. I am sure that the commenter was not thinking of loses on both sides; only a loss and gain on the indigenous end.

Now I am thinking differently thanks to this TED Talk. The quote I walked away with is, “When a language dies we don’t know what we lose with that language.”

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. kana permalink
    August 18, 2011 10:25 pm

    I’ve noticed that other languages are more straight to the point and also have more passion and meaning even behind a simple word. Like ya (ya’at’eeh- it is good), ya-going up, ya-heavenly. It makes a lot of sense when examining language through a psychological and mental standpoint as well. It’s also like a common sense teaching with many words as well I’ve noticed…just my thoughts ;)

  2. kana permalink
    August 18, 2011 10:31 pm

    A little off topic, but I was watching a PBS program about 3 years ago about the English language to learn that it was recognized as a sinful language, which the bible should never be translated into (should have stayed Latin). The translation to English led to the making of many bibles and many types of churches. Also, originally, a person to be cremated was done for sinners. (I think the program was ‘Many Churches of America’ or something like that, I can’t find that information anymore).

    • September 28, 2011 10:22 pm

      Interesting, I haven’t heard anything like this before. I would know where to find something on this particular topic. I hope you find what it somewhere.

  3. hoozdojaan permalink
    August 20, 2011 12:04 pm

    Nizhóní yee, there is an program called ALDI at UofA during the summers that deal with language issues and cultural loss. video reminded me of similar quotes from lectures there.

  4. October 5, 2011 8:31 am

    Interesting video thanks to pointing it out.
    there is a lot of debate on the links between language loss, acculturation and loss of biodiversity,

    you should check terralingua website,

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