Respect linguistic diversity

Language is the representative of culture. The manifestation, realization and transmission of culture, Humans have evolved for hundreds of years, primarily takes through the route of language associated with it. Every language is thus the repository of Knowledge and collective wisdom that culture fundamentally is. The death of a language has been presented by the social scientists as the death of a knowledge world, for the speakers of a language carries this knowledge world in their collective memory. The recent example of language death is the ‘Bo’ language of Great Andamanese group.

In the ever shrinking global world, the 5000 odd languages of the world are fast losing their domain of expression in the face of the dominating influence exerted by what, in Language sciences are called as languages of wider communication like English. The fate of hundreds and hundreds of tribal and indigenous cultures and languages in different parts of world under the influence of other more advanced cultural and linguistic groups in the last century is known to everyone, the tendency of people, especially the younger generations, in the developing world to be part of the so called developed English language culture is severely undermining the status of many languages especially in Asia and Africa. This has resulted in ‘Language Shift’ in many parts of the world, particularly in places which have seen long periods of Imperialistic subjugation. Differential attitude of people in these and other third world societies towards their native language and the language of their former conquerors is one of the crucial factors that is diluting the rich linguistic diversity of the world.

While the diffusion of cultural traits across cultures and the corresponding transfer of vocabulary from one language to another are rich and dynamic socio-linguistic processes; throwing away native linguistic behaviours with a false sense of being advanced or modernized is a crime against Nature. There is no denying that the relevance of native languages in the complex life has been made to diminish, given that the world is heading towards a universalized system of education, economic and political institutions and with the prevalence of the notion that only a very few of the world’s languages carry the potential to represent these, a sense of urgency seems to have gripped the minds across cultures to jump the, supposedly, only bandwagon to Human development.

The survival of Humans on this planet requires not only the physical and biological diversity to be preserved, but also the preservation of immense cultural and linguistic variety that gives meaning to life. Whatever the functional importance of dominant world languages, the significance of indigenous and native languages should never be compromised with.

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