At present we live in a world with many languages, however, we are moving towards a smaller world with far fewer languages. I can see the potential benefit of a world with a single language. Considering the amount of conflict that can be attributed to ethnic and national differences a world with one language might be a more peaceful place. However, I do not think that this outweighs the benefits we enjoy in a world with many languages.
As we have seen this semester, a person’s reality is shaped by their language. The way they think and see the world is formed by the nature of their native language. Given this, a world with many languages has many more avenues of thought and perspectives from which to draw. This diversity has often resulted in a great deal of conflict and pain but also has been the source of much of our innovation. In a world with a multitude of languages we have a multitude of different perspectives to tackle the issues we face. This I believe is an essential reason to try and maintain a diversity of languages. We must try and preserve and protect dying languages if for no other reason than they represent a unique view of the world and thus could offer unique answers to the problems we face. And we should also not overlook the possibility that with fewer languages and fewer perspectives we face a stagnation of culture and inability to adapt to new issues. Much like an organism that specializes in a single niche with a single survival strategy and faces extinction when that niche fails we as a single culture could face disaster if faced with new problems.
And finally as to my thoughts on this class, I found it to be a pleasant surprise. I am an anthropology major so I was sure I would enjoy this class but did not anticipate how much I would enjoy it. I have spent the majority of my time in the last few years studying archaeology as my focus and in so doing neglected to spend any real time looking studying Linguistic anthropology. On the occasions that I did branch out into the other focuses of Anthropology I chose cultural and physical primarily. Sadly, Linguistic Anthropology did not really register on my topics I should spend some time on. Part of that is simply that it seems linguistic anthropology is the least represented in class choices but also because I find learning other languages to be an enormous challenge. For some reason I thought that linguistic anthropology would be similarly challenging to me. To my surprise this class was one of the best I have ever taken. I love the fact that linguistic anthropology informs us about the way human thought is organized and how human class structure operates. Linguistic Anthropology is so much more than I previously understood it to be. Moving forward in my study of anthropology I will certainly be expanding more into linguistic anthropology and adding it to my understanding of the wider field.