For my chapter, I would like to focus on the concept of "Communication," especially in terms of "Identity," for my part of the human experience. I would like to build off of my own research that I did for my Honors Thesis and bring it into the biotech world, to make it both more accessible and modern. I would like to outline the dialogue (or really monologue) going on behind today's trends of language death, discussing concepts including lingua francas and minority languages, as well as contemporary views on them and their place in the modern world. I will then delve into the unspoken realities of language, such as what is really being sacrificed when a community gives up their own language for a more prestigious or standard variety (culturally, etc.). I will then explain that, while it has been happening this way for centuries, this doesn't have to be the route for all minority languages (Death doesn't have to be a sure thing). Here I will present my own research (both historical and contemporary) to highlight the little known fact that languages are living and only die when prevented from continuing to grow with the times. I will then discuss my pitch for the upcoming Pilot translation technology and how it can be incorporated into the greater revitalization process that I will have outlined. I think that the technology could really be a game-changer (motivationally and otherwise). This is more of an outline at this point, but I'm continuing to flesh it out.
In today’s world, approximately one language dies every week, a rate that will leave almost half of remaining 7,000 spoken languages dead and gone by the next century (Rymer 2012). Some would argue that this occurs as a type of natural selection that has been going on for centuries, since the beginning of language, which allows for the more adept, standardized, and overall ‘better’ languages to triumph over the countless ‘abominations’ known as dialects, creoles and pidgins (Cerquiglini 2007, p.36). This concept lead to the faulty assumption that certain prevalent world languages, or ‘lingua francas,’ such as French and English, were ‘born’ with something that made them inherently ‘better’ than other world languages. Indeed, modern day France once “had several varieties of Romance, collectively termed Gallo-Romance,” however, only one northern dialect “would become the dominant dialect… in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and… [ultimately] developed into modern standard French” and a successful lingua franca (Fortson 2010, p.289). By this logic, there clearly must be a reason as to French was so much more successful and time tested than its (once) countless relatives. These few languages that gain lingua franca status must have some intrinsic qualities that make them more conducive to communication across cultural and national boundaries. However, with the knowledge of how the French language, and others, developed and spread, these assumptions are clearly untrue. Accordingly, even the lingua franca that dominated the world’s international communication for centuries (French) was not ‘born’ with the features people associate with its greatness and prestige, and instead experienced a much humbler beginning. Indeed, what set the French language apart from its sister dialects early on in its vulgate form was the work its speakers put into proving its greatness to others, despite the overbearing presence of Latin as the reigning written literary language. Playing upon the original misconceptions of the ideologies that sought to repress the language’s expansion, supporters of French simply began to reshape the rhetoric in their favor. Indeed, they elevated their language to a relevance greater than that of Latin, which eventually allowed it to replace the long-reigning written standard in all literary realms. They did all the foot-work, so to speak, over several centuries to develop their language into the prime lingua franca candidate.
Contemporary views(where the issue lies)/What is a lingua franca?: When you talk to most people about lingua francas (meaning single languages used for international communication) they see having and using them as very beneficial things. In fact, many people believe that minority languages should be completely abandoned. …. In a recent poll almost half of the people voted for the use of one international language in lieu of the various and diverse languages currently used around the world.
Benefits and side effects of lingua franca use: While this is true, as having a common language makes communication, especially in business and economic settings, much more effective and simple, the . I would like to bring your attention back to the statistic I presented. In their eyes, as speakers of majority languages, the ends justify the means (meaning the death of many languages to propagate a standard).
The double-edged nature of lingua franca use: Language death is cultural death: so much more in a language than a means of communicating information. Esatblish language discrimination just like any other discrimination. Globalization doesn't have to mean uniformity or homogeneity. Instead, it should imply more cultural diversity and collaboration. Philosophy: Gadamer, & ricoeur (Lang not as communication)
Despite beliefs to the contrary languages can grow and thrive. One of the main reasons French was able to push Latin out of the limelight was that Latin had For this reason, there is no such thing as an irrelevant language. French isn’t the only language that grew out of obscurity. In fact, several languages are going through the same process today as they fight against linguistic oppression. Mention the 3: Ute, M and Maori (how they are changing and flourishing; contributing to pride of an otherwise oppressed group; present your own data). Outline the process and stress that it takes a lot of time and effort on the part of the speakers of these languages.
Re-stress how much is at stake from losing these seemingly 'insignificant' languages. In addition to the work I am suggesting for these languages themselves, I believe there is also work that we as majority language speakers can be doing to help them (by raising awareness, relieving some of the pressure on them to conform to a single language, and by helping them bring their languages into modernity). I posit and adaptation of the Pilot translation technology as a modern extra step in the process of revitalization of these languages. While it is clearly not the answer to eliminating language death alone, I believe this technology could really contribute greatly to the process.