Saturday, December 14, 2002

language death

"We should care because languages are interesting in themselves. As Adult Education and Universities of the Third Age are increasing in constituency, there has been a considerable demand for language courses. I have been fascinated by words and languages all my life and have lately undertaken the study of Coptic through the University of the Third Age in Canberra. I have also been engaged in teaching languages and linguistics over several decades and am constantly surprised by the number of people who share my own fascination for language studies.
Ultimately we should care, because language is the most valuable single possession of the human race. (p.66)

Why do languages die?

In most cases, languages die as people die, especially people in a small community. Languages can also be murdered as the result of a deliberate political stratagem. David Crystal quotes part of a play, Mountain Language, by Harold Pinter which very clearly illustrates the dictatorial process:

'Your language is forbidden. It is dead. No one is allowed to speak your language. Your language no longer exists.' (p.86)"

:: comment :: . . . am working on Mountain Language with students . . . a plunge into the language of silence . . . the silences shape the dominant ideological power . . . questions haunt with so many unspeakable, yet knowable answers . . . too terrifying . . . utterances beneath the breath . . . please stop it . . . why is it so easy to speak this playlet and so hard to continue the performance research . . .