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Should we save dying languages? Opinion Essay (Школьные сочинения)


According to research, there are around seven thousand languages in the world, and about a half of them is going to extinct in the end of this century. Should we save endangered languages? In my view, they are definitely worth saving, and in this essay I will give several reasons for thinking so.

To begin with, many people equate a loss of a language with a loss of the culture roots of which are tied to it. Nicholas Ostler, the chairperson of the Foundation for the Endangered Languages, said, “When languages are lost, most of the knowledge that went with them gets lost”. With a language humanity not only loses its proverbs, idioms and views on the world which are broadcasted through it, - moreover, it loses the ability to restore knowledge from works and books written in said language. In other words, the loss of both verbal and written form of languages counts as a loss of culture and knowledge.

Secondly, language loss is not only a loss of cultural knowledge and identity, but it also has a negative effect on our ability to reconstruct language families and historical analyses.

After all, with each dying language – especially if that language remains undocumented – we lose another opportunity to understand the true extent of what a human language can be like: the phonemes which are used, the grammatical peculiarities of the language, the unique writing systems and so forth.

Opponents of this view say that it is no use trying to maintain all the world’s languages, and it is not the end of the world if a language dies. To quote the writer Kenan Malik, “If a language is one that people don’t participate in, it’s not a language anymore”. However, people could always start to participate in them by speaking it or compiling grammar books and dictionaries and stop it from dying out, therefore this point seems invalid to me.

All things considered, I believe that endangered languages should be saved, because culture is encapsulated in a language. Furthermore, every saved language triggers a new opportunity of exploring the possibilities of human language.

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