Leah Mohnke W7

When a language goes extinct, we lose a rich and complicated piece of the human existence. Perhaps if the world had one unifying language around the globe, some aspects of life would be “simpler” or “easier”, such as being to communicate with everyone you meet wherever you go. But the state of those two words do not tend to exist when we think about human innovation or improvement for our species. The benefits of a multilingual planet far outweigh the disadvantages; with one unchanging language, we would have one unchanging culture – we would be stagnant, unmoving, and unable to learn. Each language has its own way of thinking and communicating; the people who speak it have distinctive ways of solving problems, of creating new things, of sharing their own particular beliefs, of being human. When we have multiple languages and take an effort to learn them, we gain an understanding about how diverse we are, even though we are still related. Languages are not just different mixtures of words, syntaxes, or phonemes, or even just different forms of communication, but are representations of unlimited possibilities. They are essential parts of entirely unique identities and experiences, containing knowledges that can’t be replicated elsewhere. It is in language that humans can express their full potentials and live up to their wildest opportunities.

I can only imagine what it would be like to have my language facing extinction. To be alive while something that is a crucial part of my heritage and people dies must be one of the most heart-wrenching and frustrating feelings. It’s hard to say what I would do, but being a person who paying an outrageous amount of money to study both foreign languages and the study of language itself, I believe that I wouldn’t be afraid of taking leaps and bounds to protect my own. Smaller efforts might include encouraging other speakers to produce and record as much of the language as possible, especially in medias like poetry, stories, videos, and games. Luckily for us, we live in a time when access to learning is at our fingertips, and we can spread information to hundreds, thousands, or millions of people with the presses of just a few buttons. I might set up a website to help those interested in learning practice the language, write articles to spread awareness about it, or even blog about my progress in revitalizing my mother tongue. The possibilities of creating networks of people willing to help are endless, and I, hopefully, would garner enough support to grow the language out of endangerment.

This course has taught me more than just some interesting facts about a few particular languages. I’ve learned better about the interplay between language and how it is – or isn’t – used by people, why it is done so that way, and what happens as a result. Languages are such complicated constructs, and I don’t think we will ever be able to truly understand them or fully appreciate what they help us accomplish.

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