by Petra Mainer
The existence of language means the existence of a definite nation. It is crucial and one of the most important signs of civilization. Without a language, no nation would ever last for long. Once it is gone, the nation, its mentality, customs, and traditions go as well.
Unfortunately, there are many languages that do not exist anymore. Moreover, there are still a great number the endangered ones. Currently there are over 6,912 languages, and half of them are under a great threat of disappearance. Probably some of them will disappear in the course of the next few decades. They will be replaced by the other languages that are more widely used in a definite country or even several regions. For instance, the versions of English in the U.S.A. or Spanish in Mexico are supposed to fade away within quite a short period of time. Many languages are not studied any longer and new generations grow up not knowing a single word of their original language.
So, we refer to languages as endangered when they are close to extinction. They can be compared with the endangered and disappearing species of plants and animals. In a wide meaning, a language is referred to as endangered when parents don’t teach it their children. It is not actively used in the everyday life and steadily withers away. This is not a quick process. Such things don’t disappear abruptly, but gradually.
There are a number of factors that lead to language extinction:
Oftentimes, the process of “aging” and extinction of a language begins during the move to other areas. One nation gets assimilated with the new ones and loses its identity and language is forgotten. Many languages get lost amongst more popular ones. Parents teach their children English, French, Spanish, Mandarin and other widely spread languages. Thus, children grow up with the knowledge and true belief that those languages are more important than their native ones.
When making allowances for the endangered languages, one should give heed to the countries of Eastern Europe. This is a very interesting part of the world, especially when it comes to the matter of ethnic identity, traditions, and mentality. Many things have already changed in those regions and some are about to come. The question of language extinction is included as well. Here is a list of 3 interesting East-European languages that are under the threat of disappearance.
Wymysorys, which also known as Vilamovian or Wilamowicean, is spoken in Poland. The number of native speakers in 2006 was just 70. This is one of the tiny Germanic languages and it is spoken only in Wilamowice (Wymysoü), a small town in southern Poland founded in the 1300s by people from Flanders, Friesland, Holland and Scotland. Their influences formed this language, which is currently under threat. The problem of its extinction started thanks to the policy of the Soviet Union after the World War II.
It’s not known how many people speak it. However, the number is definitely small. It was formed in Slovenia by German-speaking settlers in the 1300s. Nevertheless, the majority of speakers live in Queens, New York due to the migration process. The language started withering because of the World War II and the repressions of Nazis. Many Gottscheerish speakers had to migrate to other countries (including the USA). As the result, they got mixed up with other nations and had to adapt to new conditions, learning new languages and forgetting their own.
Karaim is a Turkic language with Hebrew influences spoken in Crimea, Poland and Lithuania. The number of native speakers was 80 in 2014. There is no proven evidence of the year of its formation. Most experts believe that it was formed in 720 B.C. by Jewish people who left Israel and moved to the above mentioned regions Eastern Europe. Karaim speakers spread to different countries, and this had a negative impact on their language.
It is very important to preserve all languages. This helps to preserve the mentality, traditions, customs, cultural achievements and influences of a nation. Otherwise, the world would lose a huge part of its own history. Consequently, it is of great importance to remember what happened in order to have a better future.
Petra Mainer is a student and blogger who is currently writing for GradeScout. She started writing short stories a long time ago, but now she is eager to become a regular contributor for different educational and entertainment blogs. You can follow her on Twitter @PetraMainer.
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