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Preserving Threatened Languages

Language is one of the most important aspects that separate humans from other life forms. Around 6,000 different languages are used around the world. Experts say, however, that some languages unfortunately become extinct, and many others are facing extinction. These languages comprise most of the world’s languages, and they are the ones spoken by minority communities.

To avoid extinction, experts believe that governments should use their power to preserve languages threatened by extinction. However, not everybody agrees.

Supporters say that the essence of a language should not be reduced to its usefulness as a tool for communication. According to Samuel Johnson, language is the dress of thought. Ethnolinguistic groups use language to represent knowledge that is unique to the world that they live in and the unique way that these groups experience their world. When their language is lost, knowledge is also lost.

Moreover, language is an important cultural marker for any ethnolinguistic group. It is a cultural heritage that is no different from historical artifacts preserved and displayed in museums. Language must also be preserved because when a language dies, a group’s culture also dies.

Finally, ethnolinguistic groups need the capacity of their governments to successfully ensure that their languages do not get extinct. This is true in a country like the Philippines where the government implemented the Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education System. The law mandates the use of the mother tongue from kindergarten to third grade of primary school.

Opponents say that the purpose of a language is communication. There is no point in maintaining a language when it no longer serves its purpose and when people no longer profit from the use of such language. Governments should instead focus on making sure that their people learn the lingua francas.

Also, the preservation of endangered languages may further alienate minority groups. They may not be able to effectively participate in the social and political discourses of the larger group that they belong to.

Finally, the extinction of a language is inevitable. Also, several factors contribute to its extinction. A good example of such language is Latin which got endangered because there are no more native speakers who speak it. Similarly, other languages get extinct because their native speakers die or learn a different language that is more dominantly used.

질문&어휘 문법TIPs 해석
questions

Agree

1. Language unlocks knowledge that is unique to a group.

2. Language is an important cultural heritage.

3. Only governments can effectively save endangered languages.

Disagree 

1. It is okay for a language to be extinct if it no longer serves its communicative purpose.

2. Attempting to preserve a language of a minority group can further alienate the group.

3. Language extinction is inevitable.

vocabularies

extinction 멸종 

ethnolinguistic 민족 언어학의 

heritage 유산 

implement 시행하다 

alienate 멀리하다

inevitable 불가피한

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