Endangered languages, and what we lose when they disappear

Wade Davis has an interesting video on TED that shows very clearly what we all lose when a language is lost. Our languages encode our own take on or way of looking at the world. As we have seen in Ling366/566 this year in our topic on kinship terms, can help to organise our personal interactions within our communities. Religious and spiritual beliefs of other cultures are embodied in their languages (in their unique taxonomies of the natural world, for example) and illuminate our own understandings, both of the physical world and of own inner reality. Davis deeply challenges the belief that a world wide single language would be a good thing, rather it would be a loss for us all. He argues that we do not know what challenges the coming ages will present mankind and what knowledge we will need to survive.

You can catch the video here:


Michael James Barrow, Ling366, Trimester 1, 2012.

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